Follow TV Tropes


Radio / John Finnemore's Double Acts

Go To

Following the end of the popular and acclaimed Cabin Pressure, John Finnemore created this anthology series of two-handers.

Tropes heard here:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Throughout both "Wysinnwyg" and "Hot Desk".
  • Analogy Backfire: Eileen, trying to claim neutrality in a Star Wars metaphor, asks if she can't just be a farmer, and whether there were farmers in Star Wars. Lizzie awkwardly says there were, but does not tell Eileen what became of them.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Both Henry in "Red-Handed" and Kerry in "Wysinnwyg" know the value of seeming nice, friendly and non-threatening.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Kerry in "Wysinnwyg" quietly manouevres her way up through the company.
  • Blatant Lies:
  • British Stuffiness: Edmund's drives the plot in "A Flock of Tigers".
  • Broken Record: The number of times Joel says "I'm calling the police!" in "Red Handed."
    Henry: You know you say that rather a lot, it's becoming a sort of Catchphrase...
  • Butt-Monkey: Not only does Joel get on the wrong side of a Magnificent Bastard burglar in "Red Handed", but it happens immediately after he loses his job to the events of "Wysinnwyg", an episode he doesn't even appear in.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Mike and Griselda in "Hot Desk," both regarding their mutual Accidental Misnaming and their desire to ask one another out.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Often.
    • In "Wysinnwyg", the fact that Kerry has read The Art of War.
    • In "English For Pony Lovers", Lorna attempting to get Elke to buy a meal has a significance that is revealed later on.
  • The Con: "Mercy Dash" is an attempted one that goes wrong. "Henry" is mistaken for a con artist in "Red Handed", but he's just an extremely well-prepared and smoothly-spoken burglar.
  • Continuity Nod: In "A Flock of Tigers", Edmund reveals that he is a bathtub salesman trading under Willard & Son. In the present day, Willard & Son is the company which the characters in "Wysinnwyg" and "Hot Desk" work for, and from which Noel in "Red-Handed" was just fired.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The burglar in "Red Handed" is so much in control throughout the episode that it's easy to forget the robbery has gone wrong and what we're witnessing is his back-up plan. What a plan it is.
  • Crossover: A sketch in series 8 of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme depicts the toast given by mother-of-the-bride Yvonne that Lizzie and Eileen talk over in "The Rebel Alliance". It's just as insufferable as we were led to believe.
  • David Versus Goliath: Discussed in "The Goliath Window". Luke is inspired by the story, while Mark never quite grasps that David is the hero.
  • Embarrassing First Name: In "Hot Desk", the receptionist's first name is Griselda.
  • Extreme Doormat:
    • Noel in "Red-Handed".
    • Eileen in "The Rebel Alliance" shows the hurt that can be caused when someone like this won't take sides even when one person is obviously in the wrong.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Sue in "Mercy Dash" is a nice old lady who isn't especially straitlaced but is very cautious, including not wanting to drive on the motorway. When Malcom persuades her to do so, she laments that going back onto the normal road feels like coming off speed.
    Malcom: Have you, er, done speed?
    Sue: I was a student nurse in the sixties, Malcom, I've done a lot of things.
  • Gentleman Thief: The burglar in "Red Handed", who lampshades it as one of the reasons he's going to get away with it. (Not the only reason; he's also Crazy-Prepared.)
  • Graying Morality: "Wysinnwyg" pulls this off within the space of a single 28-minute radio play.
  • Grew a Spine: Eileen, by the end of "The Rebel Alliance", is finally able to stand up and say to her daughter that her husband is completely wrong.
  • The Hermit: Søndergaard in "Penguin Diplomacy". He's friendly toward Bunning, but just as happy to be left alone to watch his penguins.
  • Hero of Another Story: The non-appearing character Joel in "Wysinnwyg" is literally the hero of another story, which we get to hear in "Red-Handed". Nothing in the latter requires the listener to have heard the former.
  • How We Got Here: "The Queen's Speech" starts with what is supposedly the only recording of Queen Victoria's voice, then gives us the story that leads up to it.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lampshaded in "The Rebel Alliance"; while it doesn't seem possible that monster-in-law Yvonne could have any reason to banish the meek mother of the other bride to the bottom table, it's eventually revealed that her husband refused to attend their daughter's lesbian wedding, and she refused to take sides in the ensuing argument. Then even Lizzie reluctantly sees Yvonne's side of things.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The burglar in "Red Handed".
    • Both Kerry and Adele — so long as she's smart enough to accept she's beaten and play along with the blackmail, which is by no means guaranteed — in "Wysinnwyg".
  • Large Ham: Mark in "The Goliath Window", of the salty sea dog variety.
  • Mainstream Obscurity: In Universe. The Mainstream Obscurity of The Art of War is a plot point in "Wysinnwyg".
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: Eileen is not only bumped down to the loser's table, but her part in her daughter's wedding reception is saying a small, brief poem about apples. Lizzie figures it's another part of Yvonne's revenge, having searched the internet for the most meaningless guff she could find.
  • Minimalist Cast: Every episode is basically a two-hander, as the name suggests. John Finnemore acts as announcer, setting the scene and throwing in the odd "Two days later" as required, but that still only brings the number of voices in an episode to three. (And "The Goliath Window" and "The Wroxton Box" really do feature only two voices since Finnemore plays one of the main parts as well.) In a few episodes, there are additional voices but they are uncredited.
  • Neutrality Backlash: The dark side of Eileen's Extreme Doormat nature is revealed near the end of "The Rebel Alliance". When her homophobic husband refused to attend their daughter's wedding, she wouldn't take sides against him, making her damned by association.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: In "Wysinnwyg", Adele's obsession with the idea that Kerry is wearing a Hidden Wire eventually leads to Kerry covertly recording Adele's confession that she sold sensitive information to a rival firm.
  • No Name Given: "Henry" is eventually revealed to be a fake name in "Red Handed", but we never learn his real one. Even the credits say "John Bird as... let's call him Henry".
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: In "Mercy Dash", Sue repeatedly mentions that Malcom will have to pay her back before Wednesday or they'll stop her water, and at one point that her son thinks she's a "silly old fool" and is looking for an excuse to take her bank account away. While we don't learn exactly when Sue realised the truth, it turns out to be at least partly invoked.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Yvonne in "The Rebel Alliance" is a stereotypical battleaxe mother-in-law micromanaging the wedding and apparently desperate to overshadow the other mother of the bride. Tess's parents aren't guiltless either, though — her homophobic father refused to even attend, and her mother made things worse by not disowning his decision because she didn't want to take sides.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Adele in "Wysinnwyg", so very much. Even Kerry, as she schemes to get promoted above her, wants her to keep her middle-management job because she's such a useful idiot.
  • Real Time: "A Flock Of Tigers", "The Goliath Window", "Red Handed", "The Queen's Speech" and "The Rebel Alliance" all play out in real time. "English For Pony Lovers" is almost real time - the 28 minutes running time covers about 32 minutes in-story with a single time skip near the end.
  • Retired Badass: Henry in "Red-Handed" used to be an insurance actuary. Following his retirement and the death of his Morality Chain wife, he decided on a whim to apply his particular set of skills to learning to be a Gentleman Thief, which he seems to be very good at.
  • Rule of Three: Adele asks Kerry three times if she's "wearing a wire". It's unclear whether the first time she asked is what gave Kerry the idea to start recording their conversations, or if she was already doing so.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Shrink: Dolorosa in "A Flock Of Tigers" is of the Awesome variety. She meets and successfully treats a stranger on a train without him asking or realising it.
  • Smug Snake: Adele in "Wysinnwyg".
  • Spanner in the Works: Adele in "Wysinnwyg" almost ruins Kerry's plan by being even dumber than expected, but the only effect of this is to exasperate Kerry into giving her an uncharacteristic Motive Rant that helpfully explains the plot to the listener.
  • Tomato Surprise: In "Goliath Window", the fact that Mark and Luke are brothers, and later in the episode, that they are identical twins.
  • To Win Without Fighting: Kerry's modus operandi in "Wysinnwyg", complete with the appropriate reference to The Art of War.