(Warning: mild spoilers)
Fans of Radio 4’s comedy Cabin Pressure have waited an awful long time for the sitcom’s concluding adventure – close to two years. However, it was finally announced that Zurich, the 26th instalment of John Finnemore’s show, would be broadcast in two parts on 23rd December and on Christmas Eve. Excitement levels were through the roof and emotion was running high as fans sat in front of their radios two nights running taking in Roger Allam’s dulcet tones, along with the rest of the supremely talented cast, in a final episode that did not disappoint.
The first thing to note about both episodes was the beautiful care with which they have clearly been constructed. It was clear an ending was in sight and was being worked towards throughout both parts I and II, but it was the references back of the previous four series of Cabin Pressure which took the biscuit. Finnemore, a self-professed comedy nerd, has lovingly referenced back to moments throughout the show’s history, including parts which have become crucial to the show’s fan base – such as the game yellow car, the travelling lemon and Arthur’s obsession with ice-cream vans.
The beginning of Zurich Part I did perhaps feel a little flat for the first five minutes as the scene was set and as the cliff hanger from the previous series was largely dealt with. However, then the story followed the poignant and upsetting necessity of breaking up MJN Air as an organisation and of selling GERTI. That was when things really started off, and it felt like real Cabin Pressure again with all the characters in familiar roles, wonderful Douglas schemes, excitable Arthur and Carolyn’s continued discomfort at Herc Shipwright’s romantic approaches.
Zurich Part I was perhaps not quite on par with Part II merely because it was setting the scene for the final hurrah, but Zurich II really was fantastic – possibly the best ever. From Martin pretending to be Douglas – credit to Benedict Cumberbatch for the excellent Roger Allam impression – to Arthur’s Australian accent, the show sailed from beautifully crafted comic moment to lovingly nurtured in-joke. It truly was a comic triumph for Mr. John Finnemore.
Yet, of course, the show would not be half as excellent without the stellar cast assembled for the final episode. Stephanie Cole, although not as central as she has been in previous episodes, was superb as Carolyn. Roger Allam’s Douglas was smooth and delicious as usual, his fairytale ending a particularly satisfying one. Benedict Cumberbatch was also top notch as were all of the supporting cast, with Anthony Head delivering the slightly more serious lines especially. However, special mention and the final comment should be reserved for Matilda Ziegler as Princess Theresa. A character who has been graced with some of the funnier, more sarcastic lines given her title and role, it was no surprise that Ziegler made the audience laugh, but the superb delivery and the fact she stands out so much in my memory despite completely disappearing as a character half way through Zurich Part II means that I can’t not mention her. She played a brilliantly well written part brilliantly well in the brilliant last episode of a brilliant sitcom. It was in fact, in a word, brilliant!
Image: BBC Pictures