In praise of Inside No. 9
Right; I’ll only say this once – watch Inside No. 9.
Unfortunately, the format restrictions of a Giggle Beats column require me to write more than that, so get ready for me to say it more than once; in a variety of different ways.
In the lead up to the first run of anthology drama/thriller/horror/comedy series, Inside No. 9; I wrote a piece about how much I love The League of Gentlemen. This piece, right here.
It was, I won’t deny, a little gushy. There are rained-drenched, cagoule-wearing uber-fans, lurking behind stage doors or straddling rope-lined red carpets that manage to keep a modicum of dignity when they wax lyrical about their favourite shows; I wasn’t that restrained.
I discussed my love of everything the League have done, both as a collection of darkly-comic minds, and as a solo bunch of weirdos. Then I watched the first series of Inside No. 9 and again, fell in love with the newest creation from writer/performers Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.
Now it’s back with a second series, and as deliciously brilliant as ever. Brace yourself for more gush.
I have a very distinct memory of a time I was off school, sick – I forget whether it was a genuine illness or I’d just pressed my head against the radiator to fake a temperature; but off school I was. Lording it over my peers in my pyjamas and slip-slips. Flicking through the channels, I stumbled upon an episode of Tales of the Unexpected. It was like a sketch-show for the Wallace Arnold generation.
The story was about an elderly woman who took in a young man. Nothing kinky, but I forget why. To cut a long story short (although I don’t have to, as I say – word count) the young man had tricked the woman into letting him into her home, whereby he stole some of her precious valuables. It was later revealed that the jewellery was connected to royalty and had themselves been stolen by the elderly woman some time ago. The episode ended with the young man being jailed for life. Oh, sorry, I should have said – ‘spoilers’.
It doesn’t sound much written down, but there was something about the eerie tone of the show, combined with the woman’s menacing geriatric look, that freaked me out. I was, in parts, disturbed and elated; and it left me thinking about it for weeks.
That’s how Inside No. 9 makes me feel. But more.
Much is made of the ‘twists’ in the show – but it’s so much more than that. It’s life, eschewed through the minds of two grown men who should be on some sort of register. They take recognisable staples of the real world and spin them until logic and reason no longer matter. Not unlike the Conservative manifesto. (Satire!)
Intricately plotted and packing a real punch, Shearsmith and Pemberton continue to create iconic characters, hilarious dialogue and stories with emotional heft. I believe there were concerns from above that audiences would struggle to engage with a series that changed setting each episode; but frankly, when the stories are this strong, who needs returning characters and continuing story lines? Reece and Steve achieved that with the glorious labyrinth that is Psychoville – and now they’ve turned their hand to shorter, stand-alone instalments and it doesn’t dilute their razor sharp sense of timing one jot.
Earlier this week, a Twitter post found its way onto my timeline from an account called @InsideNo9Bluray. Apparently, the BBC are unsure if there is sufficient interest in the show to justify releasing it on Blu-Ray. Now, I don’t want to talk ill of Auntie Beeb, especially not during election season, but THIS IS WHY YOUR LICENSE FEE KEEPS BEING FROZEN!
I understand that funds are low, I appreciate that David Cameron and his harem of hyphen-named goons are eyeing you up alongside the NHS; but to assume people wouldn’t want Inside No. 9 in high definition is, if you don’t mind me saying, a bit fucking crackers.
Between Reece, Steve and the rest of the disassembled gents, they have been nothing if not relentlessly generous with their DVD features. Hilarious, frank commentaries, detailed behind-the-scenes documentaries, interviews with selected members of the crew, as well as samples of scores and additional material; all combined to create a lovingly rendered tribute to a show that was equally methodical in its creation. Give them a bloody Blu-Ray!
And I don’t even have a Blu-Ray player! I still tape onto blank VHS.
As brilliant as Inside No. 9 is, it feels like the support and love for it isn’t as wide as it could, or indeed should, be. I urge you to watch it. You will never see television like this again.
What are you waiting for? Step Inside No. 9 and sample the crab’s dicks.