Lessons in Queues and Comedy

After spending Saturday afternoon trudging round what felt like most of London I then spent most of Sunday standing in an area of the capital no bigger than my arm span. Or should I say wingspan for I was in London for a double recording of Cabin Pressure to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

We British are renowned for our stiff upper queuing and the queueing necessary to guarantee a seat was only for those with sterling amounts of stamina. This was a good natured queue though and  nice to hear a wide variety of accents and languages all adhering to this quaintly British phenomenon.

The Stage, RADA Studios

The Stage, RADA Studios

But back to Cabin Pressure. The cast arrived by taxi or on foot, Stephanie Cole passing by almost unnoticed at 8.40 pulling her mini suitcase behind her. Benedict Cumberbatch was last at 8.55am, head bowed and hurrying into the RADA studios looking sheepish … late?

And as they rehearsed we carried on queuing. Writer and Arthur, John Finnemore popped out and said a jolly hello around eleven to raise our flagging spirits. Getting colder by the minute as the morning dragged towards noon, my legs seized up, my toes froze and I was beginning to wonder what on earth I was doing – and why.

But after all that, and before you could say ‘otter’ (not hotter though), we were in the studio, in good seats and facing two microphones on a small stage (apologies for blurry picture). The producer David Tyler introduced the cast and “an episode” was recorded with minimal out takes.  Loved the orb on a stick that flashed a green light when the actors could speak – the BBC version of the conch. Call me cheesy but the warmth projected by the cast for their Cabin Pressure characters was noticeable and it was touching to see John enjoying the audience reaction to his script.

Observing the mechanics of a radio recording was fascinating and I am looking forward to hearing the finished programmes – first episode of the next series due to be broadcast Wednesday 9th January 6.30pm on BBC Radio 4 incidentally.

I was impressed with all the cast: Stephanie, Roger Allam, John and Benedict.  The script is tight, dialogue ding-dongs between characters. It seemed like the recordings were a genuine pleasure for the regular cast and three special guest actors who appeared for “the other episode”.  I was also very pleasantly surprised by one of these but we’re not allowed to give anything away. So I won’t.

Sunday 6th January 2013 brought to mind the rigours of childbirth. You wait, you endure and then suddenly a joyous bundle of fun arrives and all the pain is forgotten. Slight exaggeration? Possibly, but I’d do it all again.

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1 Response to Lessons in Queues and Comedy

  1. Interesting, thank you. On the subject of queuing, there is a fascinating article in the current issue of Management Today at http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/features/1164618/the-queuing-phenomenon-even-complicated/

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