I love the British. They have given the world musical talents such as The Beatles and Motorhead. They have enriched our television programing with Top Gear. They have given us brilliant authors like Robert Rankin, Charles Stross, and J.G. Ballard. And they still produce radio (audio) drama.
It is one of those audio dramas that has recently caught my attention.
In the year 2099, mankind has survived a series on environment disaster’s including the “Withering”, many world wars, the destruction of the Isle of White, and various alien invasions. Humans have managed to piece together a civilisation and culture from the scraps of the past mixing them with today’s reality creating a new world. A brave new world defended from evil (and dirty laundry) by K.E.N.T., the Key Environment Non-judgement Task force. Lead by Professor Nebulous, the K.E.N.T. team must ferret out the evil that plots everyday to destroy mankind’s new world.
This vision of the year 2099 is the setting for the brilliant Nebulous radio drama that aired on BBC radio from January of 2005 to June of 2008. Nebulous was written by Graham Duff, directed by Nicholas Briggs, and produced by Ted Dowd for Baby Cow Productions. It stars Mark Gatiss in the title role as well as Rosie Cavaliero, Graham Duff, Paul Putner, Graham Crowden, David Warner, Julia Dalkin, and Matt Wolf. There are also guest appearances by Peter Davison of Doctor Who fame (he played the 5th Doctor) , David Tenant also of Doctor Who fame, Julia Davis, and Steve Coogan. Nebulous ran for ten seasons but unfortunately all but the first three seasons (18 episodes) have been lost in the BBC archives. You can find more information on Nebulous at it’s wiki page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/nebulous) as well as at the blog of the Zombie Astronaut (http://z0mbieastronaut.livejournal.com/tag/nebulous), which is how I discovered it, and Nebulous City (http://www.nebulouscity.com), a fan site for the show.
Now the real question is, with all that being said, why should you care? Well, you should care because Nebulous is a brilliantly written, well preformed radio drama. I have a long commute (I spend two plus hours a day on the road) and I spend an hour a day at the gym listening to audio on my iPod. And for me music just doesn’t cut it and talk radio just makes my angry, so I am constantly look for new audio to listen to. (I bet a lot of you are as well.) Nebulous with it’s sarcastic social commentary, puny and satirical humor, and surreal setting earned me many a funny look as I chuckle at it while torturing my body on a treadmill or exercise bike.
The cast of characters range from a super computer, Gemini – who isn’t very fond of humans, to a hover-chair bound victim of a science experiment gone wrong, Harry Hayes – whose voice box is turned up to loud, to the Minister in charge of K.E.N.T., Ronald Rolands – a classic big government bureaucrat. Not to mention K.E.N.T.’s leader Professor Nebulous with his flashbacks to his clownish up-bring and tendency to “drift” when talking to people. Combine them with villains like the evil Dr Klench (played by David Warner), sentient dust, madness inducing colors, and a aliens with aerosol based technology. And you get sci-fi comedy in the vain of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Brightonomicon, and The Scarifyers.
So if you like radio drama and/or sci-fi comedy, check out Nebulous. It doesn’t get much better than this.