Nic Wright

Review: Inside No. 9, Cold Comfort

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We’re treated to a new perspective for this week’s Inside No. 9, as we watch its grimly funny yarn spin out through security footage.

Via the CCTV cameras in a sterile support line call centre, we see the action in booth number nine unfold; The Call Centre meets The Blair Witch Project.

Affectionate mundanity, and the series’ trademark mixture of crude and bitterly dark humour set the tone, as new recruit Andy gets to grips with the desperate, occasionally amorous callers, and some hysterically awkward phrasing issues.

Support from perpetual everywoman Jane Horrocks, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Reece Shearsmith rounds out the good-natured if jaded centre staff.

Sometime – and a few wonderfully characterised vocal cameos from fast-rising comedy weirdoes Gein’s Family Giftshop – later, things take a somber and gut-wrenching turn when Andy finds himself handling a potentially life-threatening call.

Admittedly on paper, having Steve Pemberton do a ropey rendition of a Take That song over the phone should be funny, and it is, yet the moment is underpinned with excruciating poignancy.

With the apparent relativity of crises, and the weight of his own responsibility bearing down, it doesn’t take long for Andy to begin to unravel.

With sinister turn after sinister turn played out through the passive eyes of the cameras, Cold Comfort warps into the most unnerving episode since The Harrowing, as we witness the breakdown of a man in broken snippets of cold, detached footage.

A striking episode, by turns hilarious, unpredictable and savage, Cold Comfort shows us why we can never get comfortable Inside No. 9; no matter how many wanking gags, or touching observations might be made here, this is a show which is always ready to turn on you. Which is exactly what makes it so viscerally enjoyable.

Inside No. 9 is a grinning mouth full of razorblades; nothing else on television has a bite quite like it.