Vent. Ben (Neil Pearson). Copyright: BBC.


BBC Radio 4 sitcom. 19 episodes (3 series), 2006 - 2009. Stars Neil Pearson, Fiona Allen, Josie Lawrence and Leslie Ash.

Press Clippings

Writer Nigel Smith conducted exhaustive research for this comedy series about a man in a coma: he was lying in one himself a few years ago. The central character Ben (played by Neil Pearson) is not the most reliable of narrators - his mind wanders from real memories to imagined conversations with his toddler daughter who drinks vodka from a baby's bottle and is voiced as a middle-aged vamp by Leslie Ash. From the ghastly fear of the music one's family might play in the hope of speeding up a return to consciousness to the arrival of Robbie Williams at another patient's bedside - where he is mistaken for Jesus - this is full of restorative laughs.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 25th June 2010

Vent, on the other hand, looks the terrifying in the eye and makes it funny. A sitcom about Ben, a man who fell into a sudden coma (yes, really), the first episode of this new series had Ben returning home, still pretty disabled, after months of being locked inside his failing body, unable to communicate. We hopped between real life - the ambulance, Ben's house, his life before his accident - and Ben's virtual reality, where his small daughter has grown up enough to hang out and give him advice, and there's a never-ending panel show going on, hosted by Robert Webb.

Strange? Yes. But witty and human too. Though the banter between Neil Pearson as Ben and Fiona Allen as his wife, Mary, occasionally erred on the Seinfeld side of sentimentality - no couple wisecrack all the time - this was convivial, clever drama. How refreshing to listen to a Radio 4 comedy that you feel you must keep up with, rather than one where you can predict every line.

Miranda Sawyer, The Observer, 29th November 2009

Radio Review: Vent

Vent is darkly funny, a brilliant comedy of observation, says Elisabeth Mahoney.

Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian, 25th November 2009

You don't have to have heard previous series of this or the full length play last Friday night. You'll catch on right away that Ben (Neil Pearson) is coming back home after a spell in hospital when he's been unconscious, nearly died, is now making a difficult recovery. But it might help to know that it's still bitingly funny, whether about being a patient or a son, a husband or a father. It's written and directed by Nigel Smith and based on his own grim experiences which, with good luck, he's survived and now, with rare skill, he's transformed into comedy.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 24th November 2009

Original drama, for which this Friday slot was invented but has lately felt the cruel pinch of budget cuts, returns with an hour-long play by Nigel Smith. It's a bridge between his last series of the same name and the next (which starts next Tuesday at 11.00pm). All of them fall within the description "black comedy" and funny they are while being based on Smith's own experience of being very ill indeed. His book, I Think There's Something Wrong with Me, explains all but the radio dramas have the huge benefit of a superb cast in which Neil Pearson shines.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 20th November 2009