The Interplanetary Notes of Ambassador B by Ed Harris

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The Interplanetary Notes of Ambassador B on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 Extra, 22 February 2013
Ambassador B (Fenella Woolgar) should be pursuing her designated career of inspecting faraway planets and reporting future developments back to Head Office in the Interplanetary Commonwealth.  Unfortunately she is sucked into a quest to find her sister, Ambassador A (Priyanga Burford), who has gone missing, presumed dead, but is found to be involved in much more sinister affairs.
Ed Harris' comedy takes as its starting-point the idea of the search for something or someone, beloved of all space-epics (immediately Star Trek comes to mind).  He uses this as a basis to show how language can be used as a means of obfuscation rather than communication, especially in the world of diplomacy.  The Ambassador's reports are supposed to be written in sanitized language, suitable for official purposes; as she embarks further and further on her campaign, her words become more and more expressive of what she really feels, rather than what she is expected to feel.  This should be a good thing - especially in the world of diplomacy, where solutions have to be found to long-standing problems; but Harris shows that in the interplanetary world, the link between words and the objects they purport to describe has been completely lost.  Everyone lives a kind of half-life, unable to distinguish between "pain" or "pleasure," "sadness" or "happiness."
Having said that, I have to admit that The Interplanetary Notes of Ambassador B is extremely funny.  The plot zips by at breakneck speed, abruptly interrupted on occasions as the Ambassador's dispatches come to an end.  Woolgar has a wonderful time in the central role, supported ably by Ewan Bailey as the Cook.  The director was Jonquil Panting.