Cabin Pressure, Radio 4

Off to a flying start ... or about to crash?
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The Independent Culture

Is it unfair of me to feel deep misgivings about Tim Davie, Jenny Abramsky's replacement as head of BBC Audio and Music (in effect, head of radio)? Probably. He hasn't done anything bad that I've noticed yet. Then again, he doesn't have much radio experience, unlike Abramsky, who joined the BBC when it was still unsure about how to cope with competition from Radio Caroline. Davie is best known for having been a top marketing executive for Pepsi, whose position as the world's second favourite cola-based beverage he was talented enough to maintain. I have also dug out a year-old speech of his given to the Said Business School at Oxford, in which he said things like: "This is not a plea for the status quo. Far from it, we will need to innovate rapidly. For instance, brands like BBC1, CBeebies or Radio 4 will have to become multimedia and build their role as meaningful endorsers of web content as well as live output."

Long-term readers of this column will know what it feels like when they hear such phrases as "the status quo is not an option". Profound unease. Still, playing along with the interweb doesn't sound such a stupid idea, unless we are going to have the same kind of rubbish as we got from the Today programme last Wednesday, when the presenters told a baffled nation of their reactions to eating jellies made in the shape of architectural landmarks.

Listeners were invited to view these jellies on the programme's website. I am afraid I had more pressing things to do, such as ask myself if such infantile tomfoolery is appropriate for the corporation's flagship morning radio news programme. Brian Redhead, God rest his soul, might have endorsed such levity. But perhaps with reservations. Anyway, one wishes Tim Davie luck – and good sense.

I can at least recommend an excellent new comedy from Radio 4: Cabin Pressure, about the trials and misfortunes of a budget airline. Well, not really an airline, as the company's supremo Carolyn explains to her hapless captain, for you cannot arrange one plane in a line. "If anything, it's an airdot." This show makes great use of both the misery of failure and the mystery of flying. (There is an excellent running joke about how no one really knows how planes stay in the air.) I cannot find a single flaw in it. So top marks.