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BBC Radio
Posted on Sunday 8 September 2013 at 11:18 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio Vol. 33

This week I listened to a fantastic sci-fi serial and a Rattigan play adaptation for the Beeb plus I finally started on the Welcome to Night Vale podcast everyone has been raving about for something non-BBC.
For the upcoming week, there's nothing really wowing me. The best bet is probably a sitcom set in the English Civil War but it seems like a bit of a dry spell for my interests.

Listened to 1 to 7 September:

Earthsearch Series 1
This come pretty close to being the Platonic ideal of radio serial science fiction, for all the good and that bad. It is a fantastic story and well performed. It does exactly what the best sci fi should, in my opinion, which is give you an exciting adventure story while also giving you something interesting to think about. It is also very episodic with several of the ten half-hour adventures doing nothing to advance the plot and they just fill time. Of the four main characters, two male and two female, the males were definitely more developed, somewhat disappointing since this is from the early 1980s not earlier, but it is forgivably so. There is a sequel series, but I don't know if I'll listen to it or not. This was a great self-contained idea and I don't know that a sequel could add anything and I fear it would just be retread.

Cause Celebre
I love Terence Rattigan's plays, or at least every one of them that I've read / heard / seen, and this was no exception. This version is from an Old Vic 2011 production and the cast was fantastic. The play si based on a real-life murder trial in the 1930s and plays two very different women off each other to amazing effect.

Not BBC: Welcome to Night Vale
Everyone has been going crazy about this sci fi podcast and I finally got aorund to giving it a go! I... liked it? I did like it, I just didn't love it the way so many people seem to do. It has great moments and witty lines, but after the first three episodes it hasn't given me much to care about. The pieces don't add up to anything more, yet. For those who have listened, is there more development and ongoing plotline as I keep going or is it more of the sketch kind of feel I have from it now? In either case, I'll almost certainly listen to more of it as I was entertained, but if it gets more developed I'll really listen to while if it stays sketchy it will probably end up with all the panel shows as background listening while I'm working on other things, which is certainly not a bad place to be.

Comedy Panel Shows
Just a Minute 67:4
This was a pretty disappointing episode. I don't know why, but it just wasn't really entertaining this week. Bummer.

Lee Mack and Friends at the Fringe
A few standup comics from the 2005 Edinburgh fringe. Lee Mack was host and I like him. There were two episodes. The first also included Dara O Briain, Alan Carr, Rhod Gilbert and Tim Minchin and I enjoyed them all mostly. The second episode had Andy Parsons, Lucy Porter, Tim Minchin, Alan Cochran and Jim Owen. The only one I enjoyed much at all was Lucy Porter.

Downloading 8 to 14 September:


Wally K Daly - Burglar's Bargains
I generally like Wall K Daly's radio stuff. Most of what I have of his is sci fi so this is a bit of a departure as it is a robbery comedy.

GB Shaw - Androcles and the Lion
George Bernard Shaw's version of the classic fable.

John Mortimer - Glasnost
I love John Mortimer. OK, I love Rumpole, which he wrote, and don't know much of his other work but like what I do know. This one is about a tourist in Moscow and her guide. I don't know anything more than that from the BBC's description.

Peter Tinniswood - Visitors
Tinniswood has written lots of BBC radio plays and I've enjoyed all the ones I've heard. This was his last one and is about two people visiting loved ones in a hospital.

Stephen Wakelam - Mrs Tolstoy Omnibus
This is next Sunday's omnibus of this week's 15-minute drama. I prefer the single, longer versions when possible. The story here is about Leo Tolstoy and his wife and the problematic final years of their marriage.

Undercover Mumbai - Omnibus
Another omnibus from next Sunday for something airing in individual episodes throughout this week. For this one, there's a lot more information available at the individual episodes page than the omnibus. It is about a female police investigator in Mumbai who has to look after an abandoned baby and fight to be recognized as a legitimate officer in the face of sexism and personal problems.

Daily Multi-Episode Programs

Wilkie Collins - Armadale (Calssic Serial)
Dramatization of a Wilkie Collins' novel. I've never read this one, but I generally like Collins. This one deals with issues of fate / destiny and hidden identities.

Colin Haydn Evans - Forest Tales
I can't figure out from the available information if these are readings, plays, dramatizations, or what. Since the only book I can find attributed to the writer is Writing for Radio, I'm assuming radio plays, but I don't know for sure. Whatever they are, there are three episodes and they are about five medieval travelers in a spooky woods telling each other stories (Canterbury Tales, anyone?).

HP Lovecraft - At the Mountains of Madness
A reading of the Lovecraft story. I often avoid readings, but they've done other Lovecraft ones and those worked pretty well for me.

Weekly Multi-Episode Programs Starting this Week

The Sit Crom
All I know about this is it is a sit com during the English Civil War / Cromwell's Protectorate and it has Miriam Margolyes in it. That's good enough for me.

Rumer Godden - The Diddakoi
A dramatization of a young adult novel about gypsies. I almost passed on this one and will probably take a while to get to it, but ultimately decided to grab it probably just because there isn't much else of interest this week and I'm worried we'll eventually lose the ability to grab anything so I'm grabbing lots now to have a stockpile.

Comedy Panel Shows
Just a Minute is somewhere in the middle of its latest run and that's it.

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


donutsweeper at 4:28 pm on 08 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
re: Night Vale. There is a little build up as there are a few minor arcing storylines (like the story between Carlos and Cecil), but basically each episode is self contained. I think in general what is selling it to people is the sketch feel so you don't lose the plot in the 2 1/2 weeks between episodes and just the overall lovecraftian bizarre but totally accepted nature of the story, if that makes sense. I know some people who have loved it, others who thought it was fine, but didn't understand the hype and others that it just wasn't their thing.
bratty_jedi at 12:57 am on 16 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I think I can see why people like it, but sketch really isn't my thing. I think it will work for me for random background listening where I can catch a few good one-liners here and there but not really concentrate on it too much since there just isn't enough to hold my attention.
eanor at 4:37 pm on 08 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I was wondering about "Welcome to Night Vale", too! I've heard so many people being completely crazy about it, but somehow I haven't really found the one hook to pull me on board (does that sentence make sense?). Thanks for your thoughts! :-)
bratty_jedi at 12:58 am on 16 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Glad I'm not the only one missing the craze. It isn't bad and I'll probably listen to a few episodes here and there, but I definitely don't get the big draw.
bowl_of_glow at 4:56 pm on 08 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Everyone has been going crazy about this sci fi podcast and I finally got aorund to giving it a go! I... liked it? I did like it, I just didn't love it the way so many people seem to do.

Pretty much how I feel about it, tbh. I think it has its moments and some great lines, but at times I find it a bit boring.

Are you going to listen to John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme?
bratty_jedi at 1:00 am on 16 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Are you going to listen to John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme?
Nah. Sketch just isn't really my thing. I think that's partly why I can't get in to Night Vale. There are a few exceptions here and there to my general sketch antipathy, but very few. I listened to a couple of episodes of series 1 of Finnemore's show and it just didn't move me so I've passed on it ever since. I still think John Finnemore is a god, but I just don't worship him on that particular endeavor. ;)
failte_aoife at 1:13 pm on 10 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
With donutsweeper on NightVale. Carlos/Cecil develops and occasionally strange phenomens gets revisted (Dana, one of the interns, gets lost in the dog-park and occasionally manges to get messages out) but mostly its the sketch-y 'Lovecraft got drunk and wrote this'-feel.
bratty_jedi at 1:01 am on 16 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
I do like the dog park mentions. I guess for me it's just one of those thing where some of the parts are good but the whole is less than the sum of the parts. Or something like that.
Unsentimental Fool
unsentimentalf at 8:26 pm on 14 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Night Vale is really not heavy on either plot or characterisation, despite these being fandom's favourite things. I love it for the language and imagery (and Cecil s drawl) but it's not a story in any real sense.

I very much enjoyed Metamorphosis - have decided that I prefer readings to dramatisations, unlike you :-)
bratty_jedi at 1:04 am on 16 September 2013 (UTC) (Link)
have decided that I prefer readings to dramatisations, unlike you :-)
That's cool. :)
For certain really dense or beautifully written things, I like listening to unabridged readings on double-speed while reading the text. It focuses me but also slows me down a bit from my usual very fast pace to let me really notice the language. Other than that, I'd just rather read something than have someone else read it to me. I'm glad to hear Metamorphosis was good. Do you happen to know if it is heavily abridged or not?

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