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Yesterday being the Six Nations final, and my first day back in England, I thought it appropriate to hit the pub and draw Mr Birling.



There's a bit of a back story here. In December I had the chance to meet Mr Finnemore(!!) and spend a little time sketching with him(!!!). While doing so I asked him how he would draw Mr Birling, as I had a fairly vague picture of him in my head and no luck at all getting it out on paper. He drew a fantastic Mr B which I very foolishly did not make any record of, but I've tried to do my best to reproduce him here, with my own twist. John's design was better.

It was funny as he was drawing him, because it was so not how I pictured Mr Birling, and yet it was exactly Mr Birling, and it made me realise there is a significant transatlantic split in how one pictures 'angry old rich man.' Americans and Canadians, I think, default to a jowly fist of a grumpy businessman. In a country which still has an aristocracy, being upper-class does not equate to having succeeded in business, but rather having the right family ties, having gone to the sort of school where they strap you to a board for good posture, and a certain sense of looking at the world down the length of your nose. Someone who has made their fortune in trade is a tier below real posh. My Mr Birling, inasmuch as I could see him at all, was firmly in the Rich Businessman genre, but I hope I've taken the lesson and got a bit more of the Real Gentry in this one.

... Though honestly I'll be happy if I've merely managed to capture the fact that Mr Finnemore's Mr Birling had the silhouette of a whisky bottle.
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Cabin Pressure Series 4, Episode 6: Yverdon-les-Bains

A letter came for you, Skip ...

Probably not the best episode to be starting with, but when you've been following the arcs even a little bit, boy is it good.

Something I find very difficult is drawing a character looking at the 'camera' (i.e. making eye contact with the audience) so of course I pick a scene which has three characters doing just that. Not only do they have to look right individually, they all have to be looking at the same camera (i.e. me) – yet once I got Arthur right, Carolyn would be looking at the top of my head, or Douglas at my shoulder. I wish I could say I learned something, but I think mainly what I learned was what difference a few molecules of graphite make in the impression one gets of eye direction.
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Cabin Pressure Series 4 Episode 1: Timbuktu

When 'Timbuktu' first aired, the city in question was indeed in the hands of a rebel faction in the Malian civil war. By the time Episode 2 aired, French and Malian forces had intervened and it was back under government control. It is possible this is coincidence, but I like to think there was a staffer in the French foreign affairs department, sneaking a cheeky listen pour improver son anglais, who thought 'Oh merde, this is still a thing! Let us, as they say, get our skates on!'

Timbuktu was back in the news about a week before Radio 4 Extra started rerunning Series 4. Coincidence? I don't know. But it does mean you can still catch the episode for another couple of weeks.

This illustration is nearly a year overdue, but I was having such trouble thumbnailing it last year*, and then the tendinitis came back. I hope to do the one for 'Yverdon-les-bains' by the time it airs, but I need to get a design for Theresa, so who knows...

*you wouldn't think it to look at it, which really didn't help with the frustration levels...
tealin: (4addict)
Just a small basket this week as I haven't had much freedom to graze the schedules ...

Cabin Pressure is back, this time a rerun of Series 4, which has reminded me I have overdue drawings. One of them is the illustration for Timbuktu, and while I've done my duty to Uskerty it always bears listening again.

Also a reminder that the last two Double Acts are only available for a little more time, so catch 'em while you can!

The Brothers Faversham: Marcus - The comedy fictional documentary series about Victorian Britain's most prominent siblings, in this case lead actor Marcus Faversham. Last week's Maximillian has two of my favourite spoof ads.

Warhorses of Letters - The final episode. Really this time. Probably.

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue - This episode is certificate 14A

Talking and Not Talking - Laura Solon being brilliantly silly some more

Old Harry's Game - Series 2 is probably my favourite series.

99p Challenge - Barmy extemporzing on arbitrary challenges for almost no money at all

The Grand Babylon Hotel - Not exactly that much like Grand Budapest Hotel in specifics, but there's definitely an influence there.

The Harpoon - A Boy's Own magazine for the wireless

The Horne Section - with Matt Lucas and his potato song

OK, drawing time! Bye!
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I don't want a goose friend!


There’s a thing that British comedies do sometimes, which I absolutely love. They roll along being brilliant and witty, and then crash into something serious, but instead of being thrown by the shift in tone you suddenly realise you really, really care about the characters, and on some subconscious level you’ve been taking it seriously enough that the feeling only has to come to the surface. Cabin Pressure did this in St Petersburg and sustained the new depth though Series 4; Uskerty has my favourite swings between funny bone and heartstrings. I don’t know how many times I relistened when the episode was on iPlayer but I’m pretty sure it was more than once a day.

Also, I'm pretty sure I've been past or through or at least near Uskerty, as I was navigator on our trip to Ireland and I definitely remember Carlow and Castlecomer on our route to Kilkenny. Didn't see any pilots or stuffed sheep, though.

This illustration probably takes the record for most hours, as I nibbled at it all through the holidays. Partly because of that, I think, and partly because there are genuinely a lot of flaws (which can be pointed out on request), I kind of want to draw it from scratch – but NO, it has consumed enough time already. It had more digital doctoring of the line drawing than any other and then turned into a full paint job when I just wanted some strategic washes for composition and atmosphere.

Now I really must go for groceries ...
tealin: (catharsis)


Okay, so, the Cabin Pressure finale ... best ever or best ever? Yes.

If a good landing is one you can walk away from, and a great landing one where you can reuse the plane, then the superlative has not yet been wordsmithed for how perfect that landing was. What magic is it that has an ending make the whole thing even better than it already was? It retroactively made already awesome episodes even more awesome. That just shouldn't be allowed. (But I'm glad it was.)

Don’t mind me, I’ll just be blissing out on Cabin Pressure over here ...
tealin: (catharsis)


Xinzhou is an episode close to my heart. When I first heard it I didn't think much of it (not that it was bad, just unremarkable) but when Radio 4 reran it in the spring of 2014 I clued into listening from Douglas' point of view, realised how completely fabulous it was. That kicked off several weeks of serious Cabin Pressure addiction, which got me through the thick of Duet and showed my depression the door.

So, long live Xinzhou, and long live Cabin Pressure! I'm going into spoiler lockdown mode now ...
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And also I brought uh, two jigsaws, a book of wordsearches, and some cables from my drawer ... they sort of came out along with everything else, and I thought, we could have fun trying to untangle them.


I had an eight-hour flight, and I thought, how can I fill it up? Well, doing a meticulously rendered pencil drawing of a cluttered room should be good.

It still wasn’t finished when we landed. (I did spend a lot of time looking at pretty clouds, though. And had a nap.)

Sadly I don’t think I will be able to listen live to the finale as 1:30pm is when out-of-town family wants to be doing things, not stuck at home listening to something with no pictures. Please spare me spoilers! I will listen as soon as I can!
tealin: (4addict)

Not 'no, the answer’s no' – 'no don’t ask' ... don’t ask don’t tell, like gay American soldiers before 2011.


Apologies to everyone hoping for a Martin/Theresa drawing, but the Carolyn and Herc scenes in Vaduz make me go all squidgy inside. If anyone for any reason is wondering what I'm like in a relationship, it's Carolyn in this episode. It was kind of excruciating to listen to the first time, though I love it now.

Sincerest apologies to the tennis side.
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I wanted to draw Herc and Carolyn, but the lines I most wanted to illustrate didn't have them together, so you get a nice diptych instead.

1. You simply must have the most awfully lovely super-scrumptious flight.

The voice-off between Roger Allam and Tony Head has to be one of the classic moments in radio comedy. Glorious. And it brings us one of my favourite descriptions, 'like Stephen Fry's favourite uncle' – a lesser writer may have been proud to show off the word 'avuncular' but Mr Finnemore evolves it two or three steps into something even more illustrative and also hilarious. avuncular < Stephen Fry < Stephen Fry's uncle < Stephen Fry's favourite uncle = the epitome of avuncularity. Brilliance.

Herc's design was inspired by one of the crowd characters Shiyoon designed for Frozen, who I had to turn around when this series was airing. I have no idea if he made it into the final movie, but he was a perfect Herc. I deliberately did not look to see if I still had his rotation on file before drawing this, so how close the similarity might be after a few years is anyone's guess.

2. Do you have anything less ... sharky?

A good friend and former landlady is the most wonderfully saintly woman with the most sinister smile, so I tried to do some justice to that with Carolyn. Inspiration also, more obviously, from Bruce the Shark. I attempted this drawing a few months ago and failed miserably so I'm pretty happy it showed up when it needed to.
tealin: (4addict)


Let's be having you, Winnie!


It's a brilliant episode, really, with so many classic moments, but I find it a little uncomfortable to listen to for two reasons:

1. Nancy and the other Unbeaten Track people are just so ... not Canadian. I appreciate that the differences in the Canadian and American accents are almost undetectable to people outside Canada, and Torontonians have a less pronounced difference than, say, someone from rural Saskatchewan, but even so .... I know Canada got the wrong end of a 'worst sense of humour' poll once, but Canadians are champion piss-takers and every single Canadian friend or relation I can think of would have found the Hitchcock cabin address and 'zany British humour' a bonus feature rather than 'unprofessional.' This is the country whose second airline posts an annual April Fools advert after all.

2. As reckless and cocksure as he is, I really don't like thinking that Douglas would so happily put the lives of his crewmates and passengers – nevermind his job – at risk like that.

I rationalise away these misgivings as follows:

1. Just because they're picked up in Toronto doesn't mean the Unbeaten Track people are Canadian. It could be an American company operating in Canada, or a Canadian company catering to American tourists which happens to have a very American-sounding hostess on staff. As far as I know, I don't know any Canadians who have been on a polar bear watching trip (at least not intentionally), and don't think it would interest most of them. It definitely seems like something only tourists do.

2. Sometimes people we like do things we don't like, and which can seem out of character. Anyway, we only have Martin's hollering to know how dangerous it really is, and he has a very low danger threshold ... I had a roommate who drove fast and confidently, but I never ever felt unsafe in her car, even going 20km over the speed limit in the rain at night – if Douglas is that kind of pilot then they're all probably fine, and would know it, but for the panicky commentary track.

I made myself laugh so much, drawing this, that I clearly am not bothered by it SO much.
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Of course, if we’d been drinking vodka, you wouldn’t be able to smell it!


My main agenda with drawing this was to make Martin’s hat look better on Arthur than Martin.

I knew I still had Limerick on the books, but I had legitimately forgotten about Fitton, despite having thumbnailed it last weekend. So here it is at last! And that's me caught up, save for today's episode (Qikiqtarjuaq). I did a pre-sketch but it's going to need a lot of elbow grease, and my wrist is telling me the elbow may not be the problem here. So, tomorrow. Probably. Maybe.
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"You all right, Douglas?"
"Fine, thank you."


Limerick took up a lot of rendering time, but luckily both Paris and Qikiqarjuaq will suffice as sketches ... And Fitton, which I forgot about, though it has so many knobs and dials ... and I have to eat and sleep at some point, or at least this is recommended. Coffee is food, right?

I've been trying to think ahead to what scene I'd like to do for St Petersburg, but I can't pick one. ST PETERSBURG IS COMING, YOU GUYS.
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I blame the Chinese.


I don't know how many times I listened to this episode this spring.

No, literally, I don't; I had to re-import the files into iTunes so the play count is all off.

(it was a lot.)
tealin: (faci-glee)

"You wouldn’t be able to push the piano without me!"
"We wouldn’t
have to push the piano without you!"


Cabin Pressure was always the listening of choice on foodie expeditions from Burbank to Torrance, and Ottery St Mary seemed to be the episode we'd land on most often. Appropriate for the road trip episode, I suppose, and now it's permanently linked to being stuck in traffic on the 110 passing downtown, bellies full of ramen. There were some good times in LA.

Then I got everyone (well, the FUN people) on Duet to play Yellow Car. Do you know how many yellow cars there are in Silicon Valley? Way more than you expected when you started everyone playing Yellow Car.

It's pretty much a perfect episode. Character, drama, music, layers, emotional complexity, and an ending that makes you want to shout 'YAY!'

I've wanted to draw this illustration literally since I first heard the episode, so I'm happy it turned out exactly how I wanted.
tealin: (4addict)

Ahahahaha, ha, yes, when I was a girl – no, when I was a boy – I was never a girl.


Hands up everyone who didn't realise at first that there was a different guy doing Martin in this episode ...

Apparently this is considered one of the weaker episodes? I've never had a problem with it ... it gets a bit awkward at times but that's kind of the whole idea behind it, isn't it? Audience awkwardness is the definition of sympathy, i.e. 'feeling-with'. So I think it's tremendously successful. Then again I've found myself cornered in my fair share of conversations, so maybe I'm specially placed to appreciate it.

I've been looking forward to drawing Linda for days now. She's loosely based on someone I knew in Grade 7, who I thought was one of the most beautiful girls I'd ever seen, but who was also a bit of a bully. Not that I think Linda's a bully at all, she just seemed a good fit for the look, and gave me an excuse to draw her.

For the record, I haven't forgotten Limerick, in fact I have it scanned and ready to colour, I just need to give it a decent chunk of time, so you probably won't see it till the weekend.
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Get dressed, you merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay!
For it is Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Day!


I love pretty much every second of this episode, but my favourite little thing is the extra shot of adrenaline that kicks in on the second ‘Christmas’ in Arthur’s song, as if, in saying it, he realises afresh that it’s Christmas.
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'Obsessive' is just a word the disorganized use for the focused.


Gdansk should have been the first episode of Series 2, but for broadcast it got swapped with Helsinki for reasons. Because of this, Helsinki was the first episode I listened to.

I'm not exactly sure how I missed the first series, because I listen to a lot of Radio 4 and the 6:30 comedy slot is hallowed time. But I missed it. Months later, a good friend of mine, who was a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch before he was cool, started bugging me to listen. 'Eh, it's a sitcom,' I replied, preferring panel games and sketch shows; 'you just like it because it's got your man Ben in it.' A little while later, one of her friends (more of a R4 fan than a Cumberbatch one) also suggested it would be something I would like, and I waved that away as well. I think it's because the show sounded like Deep Trouble, which hadn't struck a chord.

This was sometime between falling in love with the Worst Journey radio play and getting sucked into Scott historiography big time, so I was looking for things to extend the original dramatic pleasure and decided to look up the radio career of the actor who played Cherry so perfectly. Lo, he was in an episode of this Cabin Pressure thing! Radio 4 rather craftily ran (or reran) Series 2 shortly after this discovery, so I tuned in, and wouldn't you know my luck, Matt Green was in the first episode. And it was good. Really amazingly good. I began to see the point those friends were trying to make. And then the credits rolled and the mystery was solved – it was the responsibility of John Finnemore, someone whose work I knew from The Now Show and That Mitchell and Webb Sound, and whose name seemed to be attached consistently to comedy of the highest quality. He was one of the few people on my list of Anything These People Do, I Will Listen To. I was a little cheesed off at said friends that they hadn't mentioned the fact of his creatorship when they first tried selling me on the show, but pleased enough that they got it on my radar I didn't make a fuss. The rest is history.

And Matt Green was only ever in one episode ... *

Anyway, because of this origin story, I drew Kieran as a 14-year-old version of Cherry. To some, he is the most irritating character in the whole series, but I can't hate him, I owe him too much.

*Correction: he also played Amsterdam ATC in Gdansk, but I never recognise him in that so I keep forgetting.
tealin: (4addict)

How do people do it? How do they lie? It's impossible!


A plainer one this time, because doing colour illustrations of Cabin Pressure isn't my actual full-time job.

Every so often I think I should have made more of an effort to be social in high school, but when I listen to this episode I remember why I didn't.
tealin: (4addict)


Having been in orchestras most of my youth, there is much about this episode that rings true ...

This is also the episode with which I like to introduce people to the series, as it has many of the 'classic' Cabin Pressure features, the characters are more set than in Abu Dhabi and there isn't the animal peril which can make people uncomfortable, and there's another 'phase change' moment at the end. So, if you've been putting off listening, try Gdansk today!

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