Infinite Monkeys

Mark Gatiss had a guest appearance on The Infinite Monkey Cage, a science/comedy show on BBC Radio 4.  Why they brought on a champion of the imagination and then set about belittling imagination is beyond me, but it was hard not to pick up on the snub.

I'm a big fan of science and everything, but I'd pick Mark Gatiss over Richard Dawkins any day.

Cabin Pressure

Thanks to the iPlayer, I have never really been able to picture the characters in Cabin Pressure as looking anything unlike the actors who play them ... this is fine for Douglas and Carolyn, but Martin in particular is supposed to be the opposite of tall and authoritative Benedict Cumberbatch, so as I was listening again, I tried to force myself to picture him in a new way, and came up with someone who's somewhere between Steve Punt and Schmendrick the Magician.

Plus bonus Arthur and poorly-executed Douglas.

American Woman Journalist

Radio 4 Extra recently reran the BBC's most excellent radio dramatisation of Robert Harris' Fatherland, so I took the opportunity to draw Charlotte Maguire. Those darn spunky investigative female journalists, they come along and ruin everything . . .

The 2 1/2 hour dramatisation is, luckily, available for purchase, and I highly recommend it as fantastically produced and acted audio drama, much closer to a movie than to a play. Weirdly, the commercially available recording has slightly different incidental music to the radio one, but everything else is there, from the brilliantly-delivered dialogue to the masterfully atmospheric sound design to the perfect interplay of timing, acting, and editing which tell so much more story than the dialogue could do alone.

Think the Unthinkable

One of the many nice things about radio as a medium is that you can think up your own visuals.  There is an old saying that the pictures are better on radio, but of course that all depends on the strength of your imagination vs the median talent of television production designers – at any rate, it at least gives the mind's eye some exercise.

I am not usually a fan of sitcoms but there are a handful on Radio 4 which I enjoy.  Old Harry's Game and Cabin Pressure top the list, but I will give Think the Unthinkable a listen whenever it bobs back up to the surface on 4 Extra.  I never had all that strong an impression of the characters, visually, but I tried my hand at the two ladies of Unthinkable Solutions and I thought they turned out all right:

A Tale of Two Cities

Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities is my favourite of the books we had to read in high school. I drew a fair bit from it at the time, but who knows where those drawings are now . . . they're probably not worth sharing, anyway. BBC Radio 4 recently ran a new radio dramatisation of the story which inspired me to try my professional hand at the subject matter. Unfortunately I was short on time so didn't do due diligence in researching the costumes, but it was a bit of fun anyway.

Madame Defarge was not supposed to be a self-portrait, but she started coming out that way and eventually I gave up fighting it. Halloween 2012!

Old Harry's Game

One of my favourite shows on Radio 4 is a sitcom set in Hell, starring Satan.

You just don't get entertainment like that on this side of the pond . . .

. . . of course, it has a standard of writing which lives up to the promise of the premise, and surprising moments of pathos and insight. It's a bit like The Screwtape Letters, only less preachy and actually entertaining. Sorry, C.S. Lewis, Andy Hamilton beats you on this round.

Yet Another Doctor

Every time I think I've grown out of being able to listen to a song on infinite repeat, something comes along that compels me to do just that. Most recently it was Clockwork Quartet, a band with a surfeit of style and talent to match. Unfortunately they've only put out two songs so far, but what songs! This drawing is of the Doctor in (obviously) 'The Doctor's Wife.' I've tried drawing the watchmaker's apprentice but he always comes out looking like someone at work.


The BBC dramatization of Robert Harris' Fatherland is one of the best radio plays I've ever heard. I'm afraid my drawing does it little justice – as usual I forsake the epic drama and get caught on an insignificant detail, in this case the way characters always seem to be bumming smokes off Inspector March.

I don't know why the incessant rain is part of the story but it gives an appropriate atmosphere. They do the sound of it very well, to the point I have fooled myself more than once into believing it was actually a rainy day outside.

I miss the rain.

The Dentons

If I were to describe The League of Gentlemen to the uninitiated, I would start with 'Monty Python and The Twilight Zone get together to do The Simpsons.'

Grotesque though they are there is a place in my heart for the Dentons ... a musty, badly-wallpapered place, but a place nonetheless.

If your curiosity is morbid enough to wonder who the Dentons are, this is a halfway decent clip ...

A Look from the Doctor

I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately, partly to catch up as I am way behind, and partly to fill the hole left by Frog. David Tennant has to be one of the most animated human beings in existence, and a lot more tasteful than many of his competitors. Here's to the trickster archetype, and being fun to draw!

Only nine episodes to go until I get to The Lazarus Experiment! (why do I always get that title wrong, and where did I get 'Quartermass' from? Oh, never mind, it's this ... curse you, British casting; your limited but awesome talent pool leads to so much crossover humour but also confusion!)

Election Night!

If you did not watch the election on the BBC, you missed out. A grand time was had by all – well, most; there were some pretty glum people in Phoenix. David Dimbleby, the host, was brilliant – I admire his stamina and his delightful sense of humour, being the ringmaster for the circus that is a three-hour live broadcast with a rotating panel and disparate long-distance reporters.

After a certain point, when I'd given up on trying to get any work done, I tried caricaturing everyone who appeared onscreen for any notable length of time. Good exercise. Notable characters were the poor map guy who was so exhausted by the end of the evening that he was reduced to flapping at the graphics and yammering, the New Yorker who was apparently drunk when they cut to him, Simon Schama who was so excited to be there, next to John Bolton who most definitely was not, and Gore Vidal who had an entertainingly mad interview with Mr Dimbleby.

Some sketches from my own very Californian voting experience follow:
It wasn't actually a three-headed dog, it just looked like it.  Sexy young ladies calling for gay rights  A real live crazy California lady  I breezed right past the table where I was supposed to pick up the ballot sheet  The voting contraption

The Worst Journey in the World

There are better ways to beat the heat on a sweltering summer Sunday, but I attempted it by listening to Edwardian men pushed to the brink in Antarctica.

This week's Classic Serial on BBC Radio 4 was a dramatization of The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who was a member of Robert Scott's Terra Nova Expedition to Anarctica. Yes, that Scott expedition. Needless to say he wasn't part of the South Pole party because he wrote this book, but it's a gripping listen nonetheless.

All pre-1950 expeditions that necessitate coats and/or goggles default to Mignola style, by the way.