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BBC Radio
Posted on Saturday 31 May 2014 at 8:38 am

Rachael's Week in BBC Radio 2014:22

I said last week I'd probably go to only posting every two weeks for a bit, but I need to get one up this week. I'm getting on a plane in a few hours and will be out of town for over a week so I'd miss two Sundays in a row and have to either do a double post midweek after I get back or do a triple post the following Sunday and that sounds a bit ridiculous. Plus, there's a ton of good stuff for both my listening this past week and broadcasting this upcoming week so it'd be a beast of a post if I saved it for a double, let alone a triple.

Listened To: I'm back going to the gym fairly regularly and that always means BBC Radio for me so there's quite a lot this week: an older sitcom starring Prunella Scales (Smelling of Roses), the Mansfield Park dramatization, and a non-BBC parody Sherlock Holmes play.

Coming Up: There's lots of good stuff coming up this week! News Quiz is starting a new run, there's a pilot for a David Mitchell sitcom airing, and 4 Extra is doing a D-day 70th Anniversary by running the same day of programs that Radio 4 did 10 years ago for the 60th, including two connected plays about D-day from a British and a German PoV (one of them with Benedict Cumberbatch), and another play with Christopher Eccleston.

Listened to 25 to 30 May:

Sherlock Holmes Theatre: Ghastly Double Murder in Famed Detective's Flat
This is a non-BBC production. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote or co-wrote three stage plays about Sherlock Holmes. The first is a blend of many stories and focuses on Moriarty and an Irene Adler stand-in, the second an adaptation of the Speckled Band, and the third was subsequently rewritten as the Mazarin Stone. The Sherlock Holmes Theatre is productions of the first two Conan Doyle plays plus an original Holmes parody. I intend to listen to the first "canon" Holmes play at the very least at some point, but this week I listened to the parody. It was fantastic! It is basically Holmes and Watson saying all the things they'd probably say to each other if they were real people, the things the readers sometime think about the crap way they sometimes treat each other. I won't spoil the ending, but this is definitely worth a listen for any Holmes fans. The link above goes to the Barnes and Noble website because that is where I bought it. B&N is discontinuing their ebook service as on the end of June but it is and will presumably continue to be available at most audiobook providers such as Audible/Amazon, iTunes, and Downpour. Downpour is a good choice in my opinion as their ebooks are DRM free, but they have also annoyed me as a company and I'm not happy with their Customer Service so caveat emptor, etc.

Mansfield Park
Two friends and I went to Richmond on Thursday evening to watch a rebroadcast of National Theatre's Curious Incident of the Dog... The play was very good, but more importantly for here, on the drive there and back we listened to the Mansfield Park dramatization. I've not read MP as Austen isn't one of my favorites, but I generally like Austen adaptations better than Austen's novels themselves, so it isn't too surprising that I did enjoy this. I rolled my eyes few times at the stupidity of some of the characters and the now so very outdated views on class, gender, etc., but that's too be expected and not at all a flaw of the actual work. Felicity Jones was very good as Fanny Price and Benedict Cumberbatch was equally wonderful as the good brother. David Tennant as the not-so-good brother was barely in it.

Smelling of Roses Series 1
This is a sticom from c. 2000 starring Prunella Scales and I very much enjoyed it. It should be no surprise that her comedic timing and delivery were superb! The contrivance of the sitcom played out much better than I expected. There are two main situations from which most of the humor is derived. The first is generation clash as Scale's is main character, Rosie, deals with the return of her hard, big business focused daughter who has just been fired from an overseas job, and her granddaughter, whom the daughter had basically abandoned so Rosie had raised. The second is the business Rosie runs, In Any Event, an event planning and management company. A lot of times in these kinds of sitcoms, the business is rather incompetent, but here they are all very good at what they do and the laughs come from each week's clients' oddities, incompetences, etc. Definitely worth a listen if you like radio sitcoms. I've got series 2 and will undoubtedly give it a go soon.

Comedy Panel Shows

28 Acts in 28 Minutes
This isn't really a panel show, but close enough. It is exactly what the title says: each episode is 28 acts, each with one minute to perform. I listened to the three episodes of series 2 this week. There were some panel show favorites of mine (e.g. Jon Richardson, Marcus Brigstocke, John Finnemore) and some people I know less well or had never heard of before. The acts were hit and miss with me, but some were quite funny and the whole thing made for good background noise.

Downloading 1 to 7 June:


D-Day 70th Anniversary on 4 Extra
Ten years ago for the 60th anniversary of D-day, Radio 4 ran a full day of special programs and this year for the 70th 4 Extra is running the same schedule. There's a mix of interviews, commentary, plays, etc. A quick view of all the programs is at the main entry link or you can go here for more details on everything. I'm mostly interested in dramas not interviews, etc. There are three plays, I think. Two of them, The Biggest Secret and The Long Wait, are related: looking at D-day from the British and German perspectives in some ways. I already have both of them and can share but haven't listened to them yet so can't really comment. The British PoV one stars Benedict Cumberbatch. The third D-day play, Crossing the Dark Sea, is one I don't already have and is told from the point of view of a soldier, played by Christopher Eccleston, in one of the landing boats.

Uncle Vanya (Drama on 3)
An adaptation of the Anton Chekhov play. Chekhov is one of those that I like in theory and think I should love, but somehow I'm always underwhelmed by any individual work. I've never read this one and heard very good things about it, so here's hoping.

Miss Marple: The Body in the Library
Agatha Christie's Miss Marple dramatization. Someday I'll have them all. Someday even further in the future I'll actually get around to listening to them all.

Torchwood - Asylum
Radio episode of the Doctor Who spinoff. I've never actually watched Torchwood. I like Captain Jack in Doctor Who and am interested in Torchwood, but I just haven't found the time.

All the BBC Radio site says is that this is a Radio 4 comedy. According to the UK Comedy Guide, it is a sitcom pilot starring David Mitchell and co-written by Frankie Boyle. The premise is of a once successful playwright struggling with his writing, his small theatre company, and his family life.

If Only (Saturday Drama)
A timely political drama about a Labour, a Tory, and a Lib Dem politician who met in 2010 and made a pact relevant to the 2014 elections but of course it doesn't quite work the way they said.

Nick Warburton - Lawn Wars
Warburton has written tons of BBC radio dramas and I've generally enjoyed the ones I've heard. This one is a comedy about a widow hiring a gardener to redo the lawn while her brother-in-law is trying to force her out of her house.

Jennifer Howarth - A City Full of Swindlers (Afternoon Drama)
A look at the reality of the town in which Jane Austen lived, rather than the fictionalized version portrayed in her novels. Based on the transcripts of her aunt's trial for theft, a crime then punishable by death.

House of Fiction (Afternoon Drama)
Another real-life based drama. This one is about the writer Elizabeth Jolley (I am not familiar with her work), the fictional life she created for herself in letters to her family and the like, and the fall out when reality catches up to the lies. It stars Miriam Margolyes, who is always quite fun.

A Night Visitor (Afternoon Drama)
I'm not sure about this one. The main description is of a struggling couple who have an unexpected visitor that might solve their debt problems. The image accompanying it is of a weather vane with a pig on it and the longer description says it is a "tale of jealousy, butchery, and sausages," so a pig that they kill? Is that it? I guess I'll find out.

Daily Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey
Another Austen dramatization. I've actually read Northanger Abbey and liked it OK.

Paul Temple and the Vandyke Affair
Classic radio detective serial. Another one of those "Someday I'll have them all" types.

Weekly Multi-Episode Programs Starting This Week

Nothing for here this week, which is not too surprising given how many one-shots there are.

Comedy Panel Shows
The News Quiz is starting a new run! Just a Minute is in the middle of a new series. Heresy is running repeats and Act Your Age is listed as running a new series, series 4, but it is actually a mislabeled rerun of series 3.

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


shezan at 1:21 am on 07 June 2014 (UTC) (Link)
David Mitchell sitcom? BC doing a DDay play? Prunella Scales? Sherlock Holmes parody play???

*starts begging earnestly*
bratty_jedi at 12:28 pm on 09 June 2014 (UTC) (Link)
Just got back into town yesterday. I should be able to get to this later today. I'll send you a message when I've done it. Meantime, in case you didn't see this, BBC radio posted scripts from their original D-Day news broadcasts, had people read some of the broadcasts, and I think even posted some original audio clips. The modern readers include Cumberbatch and Patrick Stewart. You can find it all here.

Edited to fix the link.

Edited at 2014-06-09 12:30 pm (UTC)
shezan at 11:32 pm on 09 June 2014 (UTC) (Link)
Oh WOW! What a MOVING idea! And I speak as someone whose father was there; well, on those beaches with Patton a month later.

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