1834 – Jim Poyser

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 20.20.54After a few drinks, mild-mannered English teacher Jason Slater wakes up in 1834 Macclesfield as Tarquin, the third son of the Lord of Belport and no information about how he got there and how is he going to get back to the twentieth century. With a new eccentric father, a bitter jealous brother, an accident miserable butler and a helpful, if very confused valet, Jason is left to try and figure out what is going on.

As he tries freezing himself with ice at the bottom of the well and try to create a time machine to modernising the nineteenth century with continental larger and motorcycles, there is the underlying problem of the disgruntled local Luddites.

1834 has been a radio sitcom I’ve seen crop up every now again on BBC Radio Iplayer and I’ve finally gotten around to giving it a try.

Jason, played by Michael Begley, has a likeable, Michael Freeman Bilbo Baggins-esque quality to the character where this strange situation has been thrust upon him.  He has been dropped back in time and is trying every science fiction idea to get him back into the future where he can enjoy a pint and not worry about smallpox.

While trying to make the best of his situation, he is thrown problems by his new family, Jason applies modern solutions to nineteenth-century problems. Such as rebellious peasants, awful food and the prospect that his aristocratic family might have to do a day’s work. God forbid!

I found the combination of Jason/Tarquin and his helpful valet Ned funny as they bounce off each other. Far from your Jeeves and Wooster dynamic, Ned clearly and openly doesn’t believe his master’s time travel story, tries to help him with his modern endeavours. Though illiterate and never claims to be any sort of intellectual, Ned possesses the equivalent of street smarts and is vital to Jason. It is because of this, while not a gentleman, Ned sees himself as an equal and, occasionally, superior to Jason.

Far from your Jeeves and Wooster dynamic, Ned clearly and openly doesn’t believe his master’s time travel story, tries to help him with his modern endeavours. Though illiterate and never claims to be any sort of intellectual, Ned possesses the equivalent of street smarts and is vital to Jason. It is because of this, while not a gentleman, Ned sees himself as an equal and, occasionally, superior to Jason. He sees him as an eccentric gentleman with strange ideas such as strong continental lager and has to indulge him.

Unlike most time travel scenarios, Jason does not possess the intellect to work out a way home. So he tries to make the Regency Period more homely to his modern ideas of indoor plumbing. Except, he doesn’t know anything about plumbing either.

An enjoyable listen, it takes a mocking look at both modern and Georgian life; taking a wry look at online shopping, old money, relationships, Jane Austen and more.  While I wouldn’t compare it to the like of Blackadder, any sort of historical comedy seems to draw a comparison to it, 1834 is very much its own show.

A very funny sitcom with a mix of observational humour and just the plain silly, it’s certainly worth a listen.

P.S My favourite episode is called Strong Continental Lager, a very funny episode where the words ‘Strong Continental Lager’, is said a lot.

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