Bernard Cribbins, Catherine Tate, Derek Jacobi and Paul Merton - BBC Radio 4 Drama - The Bed Sitting Room
Bernard Cribbins, Catherine Tate, Derek Jacobi and Paul Merton – BBC Radio 4 Drama – The Bed Sitting Room

Hidden away amongst the many gifts given to us on TV and Radio over the festive period, was Radio 4’s adaptation of ‘The Bed Sitting Room’. 

This is an adaptation of the original 1960’s play from the mad mind of Spike Milligan and John Antrobus. Set in post-apocalyptic London, after a ‘Nuclear Misunderstanding’, fall out is producing strange mutations in people.

I’ve got to admit I’m not really a regular Radio 4 listener.  One of the attractions towards this for me was its standout cast.  Doctor Who fans will be happy to hear the likes of Catherine Tate (Penelope) and Bernard Cribbins (Mate) reunite, if in a very different way. Short term Master Sir Derek Jacobi plays Lord Fortnum who finds himself transforming into a ‘Bed Sit’. It’s a like a dot to dot of national treasures, who all come into their own here.

The Bed Sitting Room by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus
The Bed Sitting Room by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus

Credit has to be given to Paul Merton who not only helps to bring the play into the 21st Century but also carries most of the hour as Captain Kak, who takes upon himself to find a cure for the Lord’s ‘Problems’. Although gets side tracked at the prospect of marrying Penelope (Catherine Tate).

Most of the madcap plot reassembles something out of a Vic and Bob Sketch. It’s chock-a-block with comedy sound effects, musical numbers and jokes that are completely ‘off the wall’.  In fact, if I had listened to this when it originally aired on Boxing Day, I would have thought I had gone a bit overboard on the Brandy!

This adaptation by John Antrobus and actor/comedian Paul Merton takes the play into the Morden era, full of cultural references, to TV, current affairs and politics.  It’s political, but not to be taken too seriously.  Imagine the World where George Osbourne turns into a Cocker Spaniel and David Cameron is a Parrot. (Make up your own jokes!) Amongst the chaos, there was a message that came through War, whether it is ever a good thing and its consequences.

If you like your structured dramas, this might not be for you as plot tends to take a back seat to the onslaught of jokes and general silliness. This is a drama that definitely doesn’t take itself at all seriously, but there is nothing wrong with that!

Blogtor Rating- 7/10

The Bed Sitting Room is available on BBC iPlayer Radio for another 15 days.


Three years since the nuclear misunderstanding which led to the third world war (“and it’s no idle boast when I remind you that this was the shortest world war on record… two minutes twenty-eight seconds… including the signing of the Peace Treaty which is now on sale at Her Majesties Stationary Office with a free T- shirt”) survivors gather together on the former-streets of London. In amongst the rubble, Captain Kak and his fiancee Penelope find Lord Fortnum, who is convinced he’s turning into a Bed-sitting room. With property prices what they are, Kak should be on to a good thing.Captain Kak Paul Merton


Lord Fortnum  – Derek Jacobi
Mate  – Bernard Cribbins
Penelope – Catherine Tate
The BBC – Corrie Corfield
Mrs Ethel Skroake – Suki Webster
The Vicar –  John Antrobus
Captain-  Sean Baker
Seaman – Richard Pepple

Creative Team

Director  – Sam Michell
Producer – Victoria Lloyd
Writer  – John Antrobus
Writer – Spike Milligan
Adaptor – John Antrobus
Adaptor  – Paul Merton


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