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Recording Cabin Pressure Series 4 Episodes 5 & 6 – Spoiler Free Report * 07 January 2013

Cabin Pressure

On January 6 2013 we once again joined the crew of MJN Air at RADA Studios for the last recording session of Cabin Pressure Series 4, thanks to the production team from Pozzitive Productions. Read on for our spoiler free look at the day's work.

Being part of the audience for the final of the three recording sessions reveals an interesting fact - the gently wound story threads that John Finnemore has quietly placed throughout these six episodes leads us to the ultimate descriptive problem - we can't tell you a thing about any of them. Much filling in was required to bring the audience up to speed on what had gone before in the recording of the previous four episodes as the final episode of the series in particular is literally a gigantic spoiler for all that came before, a culmination of character threads and ambitions that lead all the way back to the very beginning of the radio comedy, provoking a huge reaction from the audience.  

What we can of course say are these two half hours are as funny as those that preceeded them, as you would both hope for and possibly even expect at this stage. But once again, the biggest joy comes from the interactions of the cast when playing their roles, acting out their lines with a physical spontaneity and resultant hilarity that can sadly be lost in the final broadcast sometimes due to re-takes - often, that's because a fit of the giggles consumes one of them, leading us in the audience to follow suit!

One particular example occurred this session with Stephanie Cole fluffing her lines early on in episode 5, resulting in an exclamation of "fiddly arse" without much of a deviation in her tone of voice. Both Roger Allam and Benedict Cumberbatch continued to feed on that, with Roger appearing surprised and remarking "that's what you were doing back there!" while Benedict then required several takes to get the scene right due to their constant giggling, and subsequently blamed it all on "the phantom arse fiddler." In a similar vein - and skirting a spoiler - John Finnemore at one point had to perform a vocalisation in episode 6 that led to much hilarity from the actors, making it obvious a retake would be necessary - which to everyone's delight required a huge stretch to be redone, as it simply wasn't easy to generate the energy required with a shorter attempt.

A fixation on British weathermen unexpectedly appeared at one point following an odd use of "Hello!" from Benedict, who later revealed he had been attempting an impression of Ian McCaskill - which in turn led talk of others including Michael Fish - who famously said in 1987 that a Hurricane was not due to impact the British Isles the night before a hurricane did in fact impact the British Isles. In a sign of how quick witted everyone is on both sides of the production process, producer David Tyler somehow spun up the subject of 'Sherlock Fish', leading to incredulous giggles from Benedict from the back of the stage. The re-takes also allowed us the rare sight of the God-like power of the writer, exercised by John Finnemore - he christened a character who was unnamed on the page, known only as 'unnamed passenger'. John decided instantly on a whim that "Your name is.... Alan!", to a great deal of laughter.  

Throughout though, you always see the boundless energy of all involved, intent on trying to conquer these unavoidable mistakes but also lending the episodes their breakneck pace and infectious sense of humour.

The fourth series of Cabin Pressure closes out in fine style with a blend of new and returning guest stars all in excellent form. It goes without saying it's easy to see why the series is so completely beloved by its fans, and once again - without giving very much away - the ending is extremely surprising.

Cabin Pressure Series 4 airs on BBC Radio Four from Wednesday January 9 at 18:30GMT. You can listen live on the BBC Radio Four website worldwide at that time.

Read our spoiler free report on recording Cabin Pressure Series 4 Episodes 1&2

Read our spoiler free report on recording Cabin Pressure Series 4 Episodes 3&4