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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 10 February 2013 at 8:57 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 3


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Listened to this week is mostly comic or time travel related.
Next week I'm most looking forward to new Elvenquest.

I use a program called Radio Downloader to download hours of stuff every day (I can't recommend RD enough) and will possibly never listen to a great deal of it. I often listen to things for the first time months after they air. Because of that, I do two things in these BBC Radio posts.

(1) Listened - I'll discuss all the shows I listened to this past week. Some of these may be newly aired things but many may have aired months ago or, if they're things I sought out to buy, might not have aired for years. I will include links to the BBC website for everything and to AudioGo for anything available for purchase. AudioGo is the official site for BBC Radio and is almost always cheaper than iTunes, Amazon download, etc. If you don't already have an account there and want to enter my email (brattyjedi at gmail dot com) as the recommender the first time you buy something, I can get points good towards free downloads :) If something isn't available for purchase, you don't have it downloaded, and based on my comments on it you'd really like to listen to it, let me know and I might be able to help.

(2) Downloading - This will be kind of a look ahead to what I've set up to be downloaded in the upcoming week with thoughts on why I selected it.


Listened to 3 to 9 February (mostly in order of preference, best to worst):
Cabin Pressure Series 4 Episode 5: Xinzhou
I'm not sure how I feel about this episode. It was a very traditional series 1 and 2 kind of episode with only slight head nods in the direction of the on-going plot for this series. There were several great one-liners and I was laughing like mad at moments, but in the end I didn't feel like there was much there overall, even in comparison to the earliest Cabin Pressure episodes. Or at least to the best of the earlier episodes.
It goes without saying that I will buy Cabin Pressure at AudioGo once it is available but I'll likely wait for the entire series rather than getting each episode one at a time.

The Apocalypse Clock
These are two inter-related short stories that take seriously the idea of the "Mayan" End of the World thing last year. Well, the stories exist in a world where everyone took that idea seriously and acted accordingly (giving away property, confessing to all manner of things, rioting, etc.) right up to the moment when the world didn't actually end. I very much enjoyed the first story which focused on a dying man in a hospital bed and his wife in the final moments before the end. The second story, looking at how the same woman was surviving in the days after the world didn't end, was less interesting.

Bill Taylor - Likely Stories
I listened to the first of these five short plays updating classic fairy tales last week and very much enjoyed its take on Rumplestiltskin. This week got off to a very rocky start. The retelling of Cinderella was abysmal. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to make a modernized version of a classic princess story in which the young woman comes across as even more objectified and as having even less agency or a brain than in the originals or the Disney films, but somehow it was done. The take on Bremen Town Musicians was OK, but nothing special. The final two stories, however, were fantastic. The little boy featured in both of them (there are mostly minor characters popping up here and there to connect all the tales so he is the only recurrent main character) did a fantastic job. The last, an update on Rapunzel, was my favorite of the lot. It was charming and witty.

Superman on Trial
I'm reading lots of comic books and books about comic books lately so decided to listen to some associated radio programs. That's easier said than done for obvious reasons. This show on Superman is a combination documentary and drama. The story is that Lex Luthor has arranged for Superman to be put on trial for crimes against humanity for using his powers to reign over humanity. Through various witness testimonies, Superman's in universe life story and some elements of the out-of-universe history of Superman (e.g. the introduction of kryptonite in a radio show to give the actor a vacation and the Wertham comic book controversy of the 1950s). I enjoyed this despite not really learning anything new to me. I'm not 100% certain who the best audience is since people who know less than me about comic books and would actually learn things probably won't be interested.
To the best of my knowledge, this hasn't aired in ages. I bought it from AudioGo.

Modesty Blaise: A Taste for Death (15 Minute Drama)
This was the second of my sort of comic related listens. The character of Modesty, a former criminal turned spy, originated in a newspaper comic strip. The story told here, based one of the later novelizations, never rises above any of the tropes of spy thrillers, but it goes through the motions unobjectionably until the big final battle / confrontation between our heroine and her allies versus the criminal mastermind and his henchmen. That kind of fight sequence did not translate well into a condensed audio only version.

The Routemasters
This short sitcom repeat was a bit disappointing. It has potential, time traveling villains destroy the greatest works of art, literature, etc. and our heroes must thwart them and restore human culture. Unfortunately the plot often takes a back seat to crude sex jokes, which don't bother me but I would like something more to a story, and occasional border-line homophobic and sexist comments, which bother me very much. There's almost enough good stuff here buried under the junk to make it worth a listen if timetravel is your thing, but it is a very close call.

1834
My second time travel disappointment. This sitcom repeat is about a man from 2003 who wakes up one day as the son of a lord in the titular year. He bumbles around trying to make sense of his new world, and brings in some "modern" innovations, while the audience laughs at the cheap jokes about how quaint and naive were people in the past. I hate that in a time travel story. Just because someone from the past doesn't know about nuclear weapons, that doesn't mean they were unintelligent. you'd think that would be obvious, but somehow not so much.

Various Episodes of Panel Shows
I'm usually more up to date on these as they are good to only half listen to in the background while piddling around with other things. I didn't have as much piddling time while I was at my parents' over the holiday break, though, so I got behind. I'm slowly getting caught back up.

The News Quiz Series 79 Episode 8: I think this is the last News Quiz before a break. Bummer. This week's was pretty funny with discussions of equal marriage, education, and Richard III, among others.
The News Quiz back episodes at Audio Go

The Museum of Curiosity: I love this show. It is like a slightly less quiz and comedy based, slightly more information based, version of QI. I listened to most of season 5 with curator Jimmy Carr. Carr isn't one of my favorite comedians, but he isn't bad here. My favorite episode of this run was probably the one with astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Previous episodes of The Museum of Curiosity at AudioGo.

I've Never Seen Star Wars: Listened to a couple of episodes that I think got me all cuaght up here. Les Dennis was fantastic. His new experiences included eating cheese, reading 'The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe', and listening to a Rolling Stones album.
Previous episodes of I've Never Seen Star Wars


Downloading 10 to 16 February:
New episode of Cabin Pressure (Yverdon-Les-Bains)
Well this is a no brainer. Of course I can't wait for the new Cabin Pressure! Last episode of the series though, so rather bitter sweet. Will there be more? Even just a "Z" special?

CP Snow - Strangers and Brothers
Strangers and Brothers is a series of novels with a close insiders look at the Establishment, the movers and shakers running the government, Oxbridge and the prep schools, etc. I love that kind of thing. This is a ten-part adaptation of the novels.

Elvenquest Series 4
I have the first three series of this sitcom spoofing Lord of the Rings and the like. I haven't even made it all the way through those three, but i can't wait for this one!

Legal, Decent, Honest and Truthful Series 3
I have series 2 already of this advertising sitcom, mostly just due to it starring Martin Jarvis. I haven't listened to it though as I'd like to have series 1 first. We'll see.

I Refuse
I'm very much looking forward to these three short stories looking at elements of the US Civil Rights Movement in honor of Rosa Parks. The first is about the Emmett Till case which is one of the most horrific and famous lynchings (as if any lynching is anything other than horrific) in American history so I'm expecting it to be a painful listen.

Miss Marple - A Pocket Full of Rye
It's a Miss Marple dramatization. What more do I need to say?

Mixing It
I think this is the pilot for a potential new sitcom focusing on a Catholic woman, her Muslim mother-in-law, and the impact their religious feuding has on the rest of the family. Pilots are always dodgy, but worth giving it a shot to see if there is potential.

Radio Drama at Ninety: Julius Caesar
I know nothing about this beyond the BBC's description: The first radio drama, a scene from Julius Caesar, was broadcast 90 years ago. Now performed by Harriet Walter and Jenny Jules from Phyllida Lloyd's all-female Donmar production.

Safety Catch Series 2
I enjoyed series 1 of this dark comedy about arms dealing and am looking forward to series 2 which will be new for me even though it is a repeat from 2009.

Stephen Mollett - A House Halfway to Africa
Another one where I know nothing except the BBC's description but since that promises Pete Postlewaite, whom I've loved since I saw Brassed Off many years ago, in a story about Vincent Van Gogh, I'm in.

Running Dramas
BBC Radio has several weekly or daily programs that do various original radio plays or dramatizations. The main ones are Afternoon Drama, Saturday Drama, Drama on 3, 15-Minute Drama, Classic Serial, and The Wire. This week I'm looking forward to Tuesday's Afternoon Drama about Dusty Springfield's refusal to play before segregated audiences in apartheid South Africa and Sunday's (today's) Drama on 3 about John Updike's relationship with his mother.

Standing Panel Show Subscriptions
Whatever episodes of the following panel shows happen to air in any given week are always on my download list: Act Your Age, Heresy, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, I've Never Seen Star Wars, Just a Minute, The Museum of Curiosity, The News Quiz, The Unbelievable Truth, Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

Continuing Downloads
For shows subscribed to previously that might still be on-going, see the most recent few posts: Week 1 and Week 2.

Anything good y'all listened to recently or looking forward to next week?

Comments:

x_los
x_los at 2:26 pm on 10 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
"Radio Drama at Ninety: Julius Caesar
I know nothing about this beyond the BBC's description: The first radio drama, a scene from Julius Caesar, was broadcast 90 years ago. Now performed by Harriet Walter and Jenny Jules from Phyllida Lloyd's all-female Donmar production."-!!!!!!! This was REVELATORY in person, so I hope it retains that quality even in the absence of the Donmar's interesting staging choices.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 4:55 pm on 10 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
This is one of the one's you saw live? Cool! I'm looking forward to it even more now.
aoife
failte_aoife at 6:07 pm on 10 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Oh another series of Elvenquest! Great :D

And the Buzz Aldrin-episode of the Mueseum of Curiosity was awesome, too.

I've been listening mainly to the episodes of Les Miserables and Traitor's Purse this week (the bus I take to uni takes around 15 minutes the the lenght is great for that ^^). I am really enjoying Les Mis (I have listened to a recortding of the musical, before but I haven't seen it/a movie adaption/read the book so it is all very new to me and I admit I like it more than I expected) but I had troubles with Traitor's Purse. It is really confusing when you don't know the previous books (I think it's like the tenth in the series or so and you are expected to know a lot of characters and understand their motivations...)

I also got round to listening to some (well 1 1/2) longer stand-alone dramas:
Black Watch, about the...Black Watch, a famous Scottish regiment and its role in the Iraq-war/its general history (the whole format is a bit unusual, basically there's a guy interviewing the soldiers, there are flashbacks, some talk about the whole history, letters are read out, there's lots of singing and as they're Scottish also swearing...listening to it is probably less confusing than it sounds from this description...). I think I need to listen to it a second time to take it all in.
I've also started listening to Copenhagen a play about the meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg during the 2nd World War (Heisenberg is played by Benedickt Cumberbatch). I'm also really enjoying it but something happened with my earphones this morning and I suddenly couldn't understand much anymore, no matter how loud I turned my player so I had to stop :/
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 8:14 pm on 10 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I have Copenhagen but haven't listened to it yet, as is so often the case with me. I'm considering making March a month of longer classics dramatizations listening. Hopefully I'll get to it, Les Mis (which I've read but I've never experienced any adaptation including the musicals), the 1984 one, and a whole bunch of other stuff then. I might even go on one mini road trip, giving me at least 6 hours of driving time for listening sometime during the month.

Thanks for the heads up on Traitor's Purse. When I get into situations like that, I typically either give up or try skimming the wikipedia entries for the series / main characters if there are any to get a basic understanding of what I need to follow along.
Unsentimental Fool
unsentimentalf at 6:40 pm on 10 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Strangers and Brothers is one of my all time favourite book series so I'll be interested to see what they make of it.
Rachael
bratty_jedi at 8:09 pm on 10 February 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I haven't read any of it yet but have had my eye on it for a while so I'm quite looking forward to the adaptation.


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