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Inside No. 9

British dark comedy anthology television program

Top 10 Inside No. 9 related articles

Inside No. 9
Series one DVD cover, featuring Pemberton (top) and Shearsmith (bottom) as they appeared in episode 1, "Sardines"
Created by
Written by
  • Reece Shearsmith
  • Steve Pemberton
Directed by
  • Reece Shearsmith
  • Steve Pemberton
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series6 [1]
No. of episodes35 (list of episodes)
Executive producerJon Plowman
ProducerAdam Tandy
Production locationvarious
Running time28–30 minutes
Production companyBBC Comedy
Original network
Picture formatHDTV (1080i)
Original release5 February 2014 (2014-02-05) –
External links

Inside No. 9 is a British black comedy anthology television programme that first aired in 2014. It is written by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton and produced by the BBC. Each 30-minute episode is a self-contained story with new characters and a new setting, and all star at least one (usually both) of Pemberton and Shearsmith. Aside from the writers, each episode has a new cast, allowing Inside No. 9 to attract a number of well-known actors. The stories are linked only by the number 9 in some way and a brass hare statue that is in the background of all episodes.[2] Settings include a suburban house, a gothic mansion and a barn. Pemberton and Shearsmith took inspiration for Inside No. 9 from an episode of Psychoville, a previous project, which was filmed in a single room. This episode was, in turn, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Rope.

Themes and tone vary from episode to episode, but all have elements of comedy and horror or perverse humour, in addition to a plot twist. The first series was shown in 2014 and featured six regular episodes and a special online-only episode. The second series, again consisting of six episodes, was shown in 2015. Series three began with a Christmas special in December 2016, followed by five more episodes starting February 2017. The fourth series followed in 2018. There was a one-off Halloween special in 2018, and the fifth series was shown in 2020. On 9 March 2020 the BBC announced that they had commissioned two further series of the show.[3] The sixth series premiered on 10 May 2021. [4]

Inside No. 9 as a whole has been very well received by critics, who have praised the humour and creativity of the scripts, as well as the talent of the featured actors. Commentators have described it as "never less-than-captivating"[5] and "consistently compelling",[6] offering particularly strong praise for "A Quiet Night In", "The 12 Days of Christine" and "The Riddle of the Sphinx".[7] Inside No. 9 won the Sketch and Comedy prize at the 35th annual Banff World Media Festival Rockie Awards, and won the comedy prize at the 2016 Rose d'Or ceremony. It was nominated for the Best TV Sitcom prize at the 2014 Freesat Awards, the Broadcast Award for Best Original Programme, and at the 2014 British Comedy Awards for both the Best New Comedy Programme and the Best Comedy Drama. In the Comedy.co.uk Awards it was voted "Best TV Comedy Drama" in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, and was named "Comedy of the Year" in 2017 and 2018. The series has received three nominations at the British Academy Television Awards. In 2019, Pemberton won Best Male Comedy Performance.[8] In 2021, Shearsmith was nominated for the same award and the show won Best Scripted Comedy.[9]

Inside No. 9 Intro articles: 8


Inside No. 9 is an anthology series, with each episode featuring a new story, with a new setting and new characters.[10] Episodes last around half an hour, with the self-contained story reaching a conclusion.[11][12] The stories are linked primarily by the fact that each has an element of the story linked to the number 9, be that a mansion, a dressing room or even a shoe, size 9. Every episode stars Reece Shearsmith or Steve Pemberton, and regularly both.[13] Each episode is effectively a short play. Some episodes take place in real-time, following half an hour in the lives of the characters.[14] Every episode of Inside No. 9 features an ornamental hare somewhere on-screen.[15][16][17] According to Pemberton, "Because each episode is so wildly different there was nothing really linking them other than the fact they were all inside a Number Nine, I just thought it would be nice to have an object that you could hide and just have there on every set."[15] There is, however, no particular significance to the hare itself.[16][17]

As is typical of Shearsmith and Pemberton's work,[11] the scripts address dark topics, with, for instance, the first episode touching upon incest, child sexual abuse and murder.[12] The plotlines make use of twists and surprises of various sorts,[18][19] though in some cases the surprise is the lack of twist.[14] In an interview, Pemberton said that "there is always a desire to wrong-foot the viewer. That's what you strive to do".[20] The tone varies episode-by-episode. For example, while gothic horror was a major component in one case, other times slapstick comedy was used extensively;[20] the humour, however, is typically dark and British.[10][21] The episodes generally begin with scenes of "utter banality", before the darker elements are revealed.[22] Despite the various episodes featuring unrelated plots and characters, one reviewer said that they are all linked "by a mercurial synthesis of morbid comedy, wicked social commentary and a genuine creepiness".[10]

Inside No. 9 is somewhat more grounded and realistic than the writers' previous work, such as Psychoville and The League of Gentlemen.[10][23] Pemberton said that he and Shearsmith decided not to mix the worlds of Inside No. 9 and their previous projects, but nonetheless include the occasional reference; for example, a character called "Ollie" is mentioned in one Inside No. 9 episode, and the writers imagined that this was Ollie Plimsoles of Legz Akimbo, a character from The League of Gentlemen.[24] Similarly, Inside No. 9 was referenced in the 2017 reunion specials of The League of Gentlemen. Tubbs and Edward are seen living in flat number 9, and the Inside No. 9 hare is visible on their shop counter.[16] In the 2018 Halloween special, in which Pemberton and Shearsmith play versions of themselves, both the League of Gentlemen and its third writer, Mark Gatiss, are directly referred to in the dialogue. The 2020 episode "Death Be Not Proud" directly referenced Psychoville by featuring various characters from the series in that particular episode.[25]

Inside No. 9 Format articles: 8

Production and development

In 2012, after finishing their previous show, Psychoville, writers Pemberton and Shearsmith were commissioned to produce two series for the BBC by controllers Janice Hadlow and Cheryl Taylor, partially in response to Sky beginning to produce comedy. At the time, it was unclear whether this would be two series of Inside No. 9, then known by the working title Happy Endings, or a series of Inside No. 9 and a series of some other programme.[26] Inside No. 9 was to be produced by a BBC team,[26] which was later revealed to be David Kerr (director), Jon Plowman (executive producer) and Adam Tandy (producer).[27]

Pemberton and Shearsmith took inspiration for Inside No. 9 from "David and Maureen", episode 4 of the first series of Psychoville, which was in turn inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. This episode took place entirely in a single room, and was filmed in only two shots.[12] The writers were keen to explore other stories in this bottle episode or TV play format, and Inside No. 9 allowed them to do this.[28] At the same time, the concept of Inside No. 9 was a "reaction" to Psychoville, with Shearsmith saying that the two of them had "been so involved with labyrinthine over-arcing, we thought it would be nice to do six different stories with a complete new house of people each week. That's appealing, because as a viewer you might not like this story, but you've got a different one next week."[27] Elsewhere, Shearsmith explained that the pair returned to writing macabre stories as they "always feel slightly unfulfilled if [they] write something that's purely comedic, [as] it just feels too frivolous and light".[29] The first story that the pair wrote specifically for Inside No. 9 was about a birthday party. BBC producers felt that this story would work as the opening episode of a sitcom, but, given the script's events, Pemberton and Shearsmith were not happy to develop the idea into its own programme. The script was consequently shelved and revisited during the planning process for the second series, becoming "Nana's Party", the fifth episode of the series and eleventh overall.[30] During the filming Inside No. 9, Shearsmith professed excitement to be working on the programme, saying that "[b]eing in the middle of filming a third series of Psychoville would be utterly depressing".[27] Pemberton and Shearsmith aimed for a simpler experience with Inside No. 9 than they had experienced with Psychoville, describing "Sardines", Inside No. 9's first episode, by saying that it was "just about some good actors in a wardrobe with a good story."[27]

At the time of Inside No. 9's production, the anthology series was a rare genre for British television programmes. Previous horror anthologies include Tales of the Unexpected, The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; while these would sometimes use comedic elements, they are more prominent in Inside No. 9. Murder Most Horrid followed a similar format, but was far more comedic than horrific. Other anthology-like series on British television include Seven of One and Comedy Playhouse, though these programmes lacked horror elements, and, unlike Inside No. 9, served as pilots for potential series.[13] However, the British anthology show Black Mirror, which also features elements of comedy and horror, was very popular around the time of Inside No. 9.[31] For Pemberton, the 1970s and 1980s were "full of" anthology shows; other examples included Play for Today, Beasts and Armchair Thriller.[14] More recently, anthologies have become less popular with television executives,[13] but the writers hope that they may be able to contribute to a "renaissance" for the genre.[28] According to journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson, this is because anthologies can fail to motivate viewers to stay with a series, and, further, new sets and casts must be paid for each episode, meaning that a six-part anthology series will generally be more expensive than a six-part series in a more standard format. For Lawson, Inside No. 9 was able to overcome these problems through the "pleasing coherence" offered by the fact each episode was set in a number 9, and "the wit and inventiveness" of the opening episodes, which could sufficiently engage viewers.[13] Pemberton and Shearsmith had originally considered alternative ways to link the stories, such as all the settings having a shared post man, but then decided that such a strong relationship between stories was not needed.[28]

Inspiration and production varied from instalment to instalment, and each was filmed separately, taking less than a week per episode.[14] After Shearsmith and Pemberton had decided that each episode would be about confinement, and having written some of the later episodes, they were inspired by a wardrobe in their working space for "Sardines". The writers were keen to see how confined they could make the characters,[32] aiming to induce feelings of claustrophobia in viewers.[29] The anthology format allowed Pemberton and Shearsmith to revisit prior ideas, which is what they did with "A Quiet Night In" and "Tom & Gerri". The former was inspired by the writers' efforts to include a long segment without dialogue in an episode of Psychoville. Both episodes followed break-ins.[33] The Pinteresque "Tom & Gerri" was based upon a play written by Pemberton and Shearsmith while the pair were living together and job seeking. The setting was based upon their own flat, while the character Tom's development evoked the experience of job-hunting.[34][35] "Last Gasp" was inspired by a person Pemberton had seen on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop who collected jars of air, as well as the death of Michael Jackson and the death of Amy Winehouse.[36] "The Understudy", the plot of which is partially based upon and concerns Macbeth, took longer to write than any other episode; the writers rewrote the script several times, as they were unsure of whether the characters should be amateur or professional actors.[37] "The Harrowing" was the writers' attempt to produce a gothic horror episode. They made use of more horror tropes than previous episodes, but the setting allowed them to include modern elements.[6][10][38][39]

The BBC ordered a second series of Inside No. 9 before the first episode had aired.[40] The second series was written in 2014, and then filmed from the end of 2014 into early 2015.[41][42] The writers were permitted two sets for the second series, and so a fake train compartment and a fake flat (for "La Couchette" and "The 12 Days of Christine" respectively) were built at Twickenham Studios.[43][44][45] The other episodes were filmed on location; for example, "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge" was filmed in a barn at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.[46] David Kerr was unable to stay on as director for the second series. Guillem Morales and Dan Zeff each took on directorial duties for two episodes, and Pemberton and Shearsmith, in addition to continuing to write and star in the episodes, jointly directed the other two. The writers had hoped to direct for some time, and this represented a good opportunity to make their directorial debut.[47][48] While writing for the series, the pair did not know which episodes they would be directing;[24] in an interview, Shearsmith said that the pair had considered directing episodes in which they did not appear much, but scheduling concerns left them with "Cold Comfort" and "Nana's Party"; the episodes feature the writers quite heavily.[48]

The six episodes of the second series derived inspiration from a variety of sources. "La Couchette" aimed to explore the intimacy of sleeper carriages; specifically, the unusual problems associated with sleeping in close proximity to strangers.[43][49] "The 12 Days of Christine" follows a woman over the course of 12 years, with scenes displaying key moments in her life.[45][50] "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge" was inspired by genuine witch trials, some transcripts of which Pemberton and Shearsmith had read as part of the writing process.[51][52] "Cold Comfort" began with the idea of a call centre,[24] and was filmed in the style of a CCTV feed.[53] With "Nana's Party", the writers aimed for a feeling of suburban darkness, reminiscent of the work of Alan Ayckbourn.[54] "Séance Time" began with the idea of a séance, an idea the writers had wanted to explore for some time.[24][55]

A third series began broadcasting in February 2017,[56] with a Christmas special, "The Devil of Christmas", airing on 27 December 2016.[57][58] Settings for the third series include an art gallery, a restaurant and an alpine cabin, while guest stars include Keeley Hawes, Jessica Raine, Felicity Kendal, Tamzin Outhwaite, Fiona Shaw, Jason Watkins, Mathew Baynton, Rula Lenska, Philip Glenister, Sarah Hadland, Javone Prince, Montserrat Lombard, Morgana Robinson, and Alexandra Roach.[56][59][60] A fourth series was confirmed after the airing of "The Devil of Christmas", and began broadcast in 2018.[61] Pemberton has said that he would be interested in an online spin-off, perhaps called No. 9A, with less experienced comedy writers. In an interview, he said "The format has so many opportunities and can incorporate so many styles, as long as you stick to the small cast, single location constraint. I think it's really important to bring through fresh voices."[24] The show's fifth series was commissioned in February 2018, and aired in 2020.[62][63]

A 2018 live special received particular praise for its unusual and creative format. The episode, described as "astonishingly bold and ambitious" by reviewer Sean O'Grady,[64] appeared to suffer technical difficulties within its first 9 minutes of broadcast.[65] The difficulties, including the continuity announcer's voiceover, were in-fact part of the programme's plot, which centred on the premise that the studios in which the episode were being filmed were haunted.[65] Around 20% of the audience reportedly switched off before the deception became apparent.[65] The plot included a number of features playing with the live format, including Shearsmith and Pemberton watching the live broadcast, and Shearsmith sending a Tweet during the show.[65][66]

Inside No. 9 Production and development articles: 64


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
165 February 2014 (2014-02-05)12 March 2014 (2014-03-12)
2626 March 2015 (2015-03-26)29 April 2015 (2015-04-29)
3627 December 2016 (2016-12-27)21 March 2017 (2017-03-21)
462 January 2018 (2018-01-02)6 February 2018 (2018-02-06)
Special28 October 2018 (2018-10-28)
563 February 2020 (2020-02-03)9 March 2020 (2020-03-09)
6610 May 2021 (2021-05-10)14 June 2021 (2021-06-14)

Series 1 (2014)

No. in
TitleLocationDirected byOriginal air dateUK viewers
11"Sardines"Bedroom in a country estateDavid Kerr5 February 2014 (2014-02-05)1.06
Rebecca (Katherine Parkinson) and Jeremy (Ben Willbond) hold an engagement party at Rebecca's family's mansion. The guests play the parlour game sardines, in which one person hides and the other players have to join them in their hiding place once they are found. As Rebecca's friends and family are packed into a wardrobe, secrets are gradually revealed.
22"A Quiet Night In"Modernist houseDavid Kerr12 February 2014 (2014-02-12)0.94
Hapless cat burglars Eddie (Pemberton) and Ray (Shearsmith) break into a luxury house to try to steal a painting while Gerald (Denis Lawson) and Sabrina (Oona Chaplin), the couple who live in the house, argue. The episode progresses almost entirely without dialogue.
33"Tom & Gerri"FlatDavid Kerr19 February 2014 (2014-02-19)1.00
Tom (Shearsmith) is a frustrated primary school teacher and aspiring author. One night, a homeless man named Migg (Pemberton) returns Tom's lost wallet, and Migg ends up living with Tom, to the frustration of Tom's girlfriend Gerri (Gemma Arterton). Tom's life changes dramatically as a result.
44"Last Gasp"Suburban houseDavid Kerr26 February 2014 (2014-02-26)0.87
Pop star Frankie J Parsons (David Bedella), accompanied by assistant Si (Adam Deacon) and WishmakerUK representative Sally (Tamsin Greig), visits the sick Tamsin (Lucy Hutchinson) on her ninth birthday, but suddenly collapses – and appears to have died – while blowing up a balloon. Graham (Pemberton), Tamsin's father, realises that Frankie's last breath could be highly valuable, and he, Sally and Si argue over ownership of the balloon.
55"The Understudy"Dressing roomDavid Kerr5 March 2014 (2014-03-05)0.72
Successful West End actor Tony (Pemberton) is starring in a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. His understudy Jim (Shearsmith) has always wanted a starring role, and Jim's fiancée Laura (Lyndsey Marshal) encourages him to push for Tony's job. The episode is written in five acts, and is loosely based upon the plot of Macbeth.
66"The Harrowing"Gothic mansionDavid Kerr12 March 2014 (2014-03-12)0.83
Katy (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) is hired to housesit the Gothic mansion where Hector (Shearsmith) and Tabitha (Helen McCrory) live, while the pair attend an important event. The house is filled with paintings depicting Hell, and kept below freezing for Hector and Tabitha's severely disabled brother, Andras (Sean Buckley), who is staying in his bedroom upstairs. Andras is not to be disturbed.

Online episode

A special online-only episode of Inside No. 9, "The Inventors", was launched by the BBC on 12 February 2014. "The Inventors" stars Tom Verall and Dan Renton Skinner as brothers whose mother died in the Great Storm of 1987. The story is told through a series of cinemagraphs with dialogue. The episode is interactive, advancing only with input from the viewer. "The Inventors" was developed by media agency Kanoti, and produced by Jon Aird,[67] who had previously produced BAFTA-winning online content for Psychoville,[68] with executive producer Will Saunders.[67] It was directed by Martin Stirling.[69]

Series 2 (2015)

No. in
TitleLocationDirected byOriginal air dateUK viewers
71"La Couchette"Sleeper carGuillem Morales26 March 2015 (2015-03-26)1.69
English doctor Maxwell (Shearsmith) attempts to settle in a French sleeper carriage. He is disturbed first by drunk, flatulent German Jorg (Pemberton), then by English couple Kath (Julie Hesmondhalgh) and Les (Mark Benton). When Australian backpacker Shona (Jessica Gunning) brings the posh Hugo (Jack Whitehall) back to the carriage, they make a discovery.
82"The 12 Days of Christine"FlatGuillem Morales2 April 2015 (2015-04-02)1.69
Christine (Sheridan Smith) meets Adam (Tom Riley) at a New Year party. Her life begins to unravel around her as events seem to take place out of sequence and she is haunted by visions of an unknown man. The episode takes place over twelve holidays and important occasions in Christine's lifetime, at intervals of 13 months.
93"The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge"BarnDan Zeff9 April 2015 (2015-04-09)1.41
In the 17th century, villager Elizabeth Gadge (Ruth Sheen) stands accused of witchcraft; she will be burnt at the stake if found guilty. Magistrate Sir Andrew Pike (David Warner) summons renowned witch-finders Mr Warren (Shearsmith) and Mr Clarke (Pemberton) to investigate, planning to use the trial to increase interest in the village.
104"Cold Comfort"Call centreSteve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith16 April 2015 (2015-04-16)1.46
Andy (Pemberton) starts work at the Comfort Support Line, a crisis support line with manager George (Shearsmith), the gossipy Liz (Jane Horrocks) and the officious Joanne (Nikki Amuka-Bird). A difficult call from a suicidal teenage girl leads to a series of problems. The episode is filmed in the style of a CCTV feed.
115"Nana's Party"Suburban houseSteve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith23 April 2015 (2015-04-23)1.53
Angela (Claire Skinner) hosts a birthday party for her 79-year-old mother, Maggie (Elsie Kelly), while Angela's husband Jim (Pemberton) plans to play a practical joke on Pat (Shearsmith), the husband of Angela's alcoholic sister Carol (Lorraine Ashbourne). The episode opens with the arrival of a paramedic, before flashing back to before the beginning of the party.
126"Séance Time"Victorian villaDan Zeff29 April 2015 (2015-04-29)1.14
Young woman Tina (Sophie McShera) visits a medium for a séance. After being shown in to a room in a Victorian villa by "Hives" (Shearsmith), she is introduced to "Madam Talbot" (Alison Steadman), an elderly woman shrouded in black.

Series 3 (2016–17)

No. in
TitleLocationDirected byOriginal air dateUK viewers
131"The Devil of Christmas"Alpine chaletGraeme Harper27 December 2016 (2016-12-27)1.03
In a film within the episode, an English family (Pemberton, Rula Lenska, Jessica Raine and George Bedford) travel to an Austrian chalet in December 1977. They are told the story of the Krampus by their guide (Shearsmith). Meanwhile, the film's director (Derek Jacobi) provides audio commentary.
142"The Bill"RestaurantGuillem Morales21 February 2017 (2017-02-21)1.47
Three northerners – Archie (Shearsmith), Malcolm (Pemberton) and Kevin (Jason Watkins) – take a southerner Craig (Philip Glenister) for a tapas meal, but an argument breaks out over who should pay. To the consternation of the waitress (Ellie White), each of the four men attempts to pay the total bill.
153"The Riddle of the Sphinx"Professor's studyGuillem Morales28 February 2017 (2017-02-28)1.37
Nina (Alexandra Roach) breaks into the office of Cambridge Professor Nigel Squires (Pemberton), who publishes cryptic crosswords in the student newspaper Varsity as "The Sphinx". Squires proceeds to teach Nina how to solve cryptic crosswords using the next day's puzzle.
164"Empty Orchestra"Karaoke boothGuillem Morales7 March 2017 (2017-03-07)1.26
Greg (Shearsmith), Fran (Sarah Hadland), Connie (Tamzin Outhwaite), Janet (Emily Howlett) and Duane (Javone Prince) enter a karaoke booth in fancy dress to celebrate the promotion of their manager Roger (Pemberton). The character's relationships are revealed both through their explicit interactions and their karaoke performances.
175"Diddle Diddle Dumpling"HouseGuillem Morales14 March 2017 (2017-03-14)1.50
David (Shearsmith), a stay-at-home dad, finds a man's shoe while out jogging. He becomes fixated on finding the shoe's owner, straining his relationship with his wife Louise (Keeley Hawes).
186"Private View"Gallery spaceGuillem Morales21 March 2017 (2017-03-21)1.16
Carrie (Morgana Robinson), Patricia (Felicity Kendal), Maurice (Shearsmith), Kenneth (Pemberton) and Jean (Fiona Shaw) attend a private retrospective art exhibition. They are met by the waitress Bea (Montserrat Lombard), but none know why they have been invited.

Series 4 (2018)

No. in
TitleLocationDirected byOriginal air dateUK viewers
191"Zanzibar"Hotel corridorDavid Kerr2 January 2018 (2018-01-02)2.19
Told through the style of iambic pentameter, various guests arrive at Hotel Zanzibar where they find themselves interacting with one another in a variety of ways, from murder to a proposal.
202"Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room"Church hallGraeme Harper9 January 2018 (2018-01-09)1.93
Double-act Cheese (Shearsmith) and Crackers (Pemberton) have reunited after 30 years to perform in front of an audience, but an incident that caused them to fall out comes back into the limelight.
213"Once Removed"Country farmhouseJim O'Hanlon16 January 2018 (2018-01-16)2.15
Removal man Spike (Nick Moran) arrives to help May (Monica Dolan) move house, leading him into bizarre circumstances which unfold through reverse chronology.
224"To Have and to Hold"Suburban terrace houseDavid Kerr23 January 2018 (2018-01-23)1.92
When a wedding photographer (Pemberton) seems bored by his marriage, instead focusing on jigsaws and Pot Noodles, his wife desires to renew their wedding vows, yet instead finds something far more sinister...
235"And the Winner Is..."Meeting roomGraeme Harper30 January 2018 (2018-01-30)1.91
We join the jury of a television awards company as they decide on who is going to win the Best Actress award. But only one of the eight actresses can be chosen.
246"Tempting Fate"FlatJim O'Hanlon6 February 2018 (2018-02-06)1.82
Council contractors Keith (Pemberton), Nick (Shearsmith) and Maz (Weruche Opia) have to clear out the flat of a dead hoarder but when they unveil the content of the man's safe, their lives will never be the same again.

Halloween Special (2018)

This episode was a live broadcast, rather than a pre-recorded episode. The music, by Christian Henson, was also performed live.[70]

No.TitleLocationDirected byOriginal air dateUK viewers
25"Dead Line"Television studioBarbara Wiltshire28 October 2018 (2018-10-28)N/A (<1.40)[a]
Walking home one night, Arthur (Pemberton) finds a mobile phone in a graveyard. Taking it home with him, strange events occur.

Series 5 (2020)

No. in
TitleLocationDirected byOriginal air dateUK viewers
261"The Referee's a W***er"Football changing roomMatt Lipsey3 February 2020 (2020-02-03)1.66
Tensions are high in the referee's changing room before, during and after the ref's (David Morrissey) last game before retirement.
272"Death Be Not Proud"FlatMatt Lipsey10 February 2020 (2020-02-10)1.44
When Beattie (Jenna Coleman) and her partner Sam (Kadiff Kirwan) move into a new flat at a knockdown price, strange things occur, which are made only stranger when the previous owner returns. This episode references "Psychoville", a previous work of Shearsmith and Pemberton.
283"Love's Great Adventure"HouseGuillem Morales17 February 2020 (2020-02-17)1.35
Trevor (Pemberton) and Julia (Debbie Rush) always try to make Christmas special for their family but with money running low it's going to be extra hard this year.
294"Misdirection"Storage unitGuillem Morales24 February 2020 (2020-02-24)N/A (<1.39)[a]
A world-famous magician (Shearsmith) is interviewed by a student journalist (Fionn Whitehead).
305"Thinking Out Loud"House (other locations also seen)Steve Pemberton2 March 2020 (2020-03-02)N/A (<1.42)[a]
Six disparate characters share their stories with a camera, not knowing their fates are about to collide.
316"The Stakeout"Police carGuillem Morales9 March 2020 (2020-03-09)N/A (<1.46)[a]
PC Thompson (Pemberton)'s partner died in a brutal attack. Now the forensic evidence has gone missing and his new partner SPC Varney (Shearsmith) is asking questions.

Series 6 (2021)

No. in
TitleLocationDirected byOriginal air dateUK viewers
321"Wuthering Heist"Abandoned Sound StageGuillem Morales10 May 2021 (2021-05-10)1.84[72]
Pantalone (Paterson Joseph) is planning the heist of the century – a tasty £12 million in rough-cut diamonds. But if you’re going to hire a bunch of complete clowns to carry out a robbery, and half of them are planning to double-cross the other half, you’ve not just got a recipe for disaster, you’ve actually got the ingredients of a Tarantino Commedia dell’Arte. The episode was inspired by Reservoir Dogs.[71]
332"Simon Says"FlatGuillem Morales17 May 2021 (2021-05-17)N/A (<1.65)[a]
Everyone says the Season 7 finale of fantasy epic The Ninth Circle was pretty disappointing; even show-runner Spencer Maguire is keen to move on to new projects. But not everyone thinks that it has to be the end of the matter. In fact, Ninth Circle obsessive Simon Smethurst (Shearsmith) visits showrunner Spencer Maguire (Pemberton) to help put things right. Because that’s what the fans would want…
343"Lip Service"Hotel RoomGuillem Morales24 May 2021 (2021-05-24)N/A (<1.64)[a]
Felix (Pemberton) is pretty certain his wife is up to something with her boss Dmitri, so he decides to hire professional lip-reader Iris (Sian Clifford) to prove things one way or the other. When she arrives with her powerful binoculars, the couple stake out a hotel bedroom and start to gather their evidence.
354"Hurry Up and Wait"CaravanMatt Lipsey31 May 2021 (2021-05-31)TBD
Actor James (Shearsmith), is waiting for his big moment on the set of ITV’s prestigious new crime drama, and this holding area should be the ideal place to relax and go over all three of his lines - except he’s actually in a static caravan owned by Oona (Pauline McLynn) and Stan (Pemberton). The more he learns about this couple and their strange daughter, the more disconcerted he becomes. Stars Adrian Dunbar as himself.
365"How Do You Plead?"Old apartmentGuillem Morales7 June 2021 (2021-06-07)TBD
Famous barrister Webster (Derek Jacobi) is not well and not an easy man to look after. His carer Urban (Shearsmith) is used to Webster's ways, but on this particular night, something is coming that will test Webster’s resolve and legal skills to the very end.
376"Last Night of the Proms"TBAMatt Lipsey14 June 2021 (2021-06-14)TBD
Dawn (Sarah Parish) and Mick (Pemberton) are hosting their annual Last Night of the Proms party, the perfect antidote to post-Brexit Britain. But not everyone is singing from the same song sheet.

Inside No. 9 Episodes articles: 62


Timothy West (left, 2010), Denis Lawson (centre, 2006), and Gemma Arterton (right, 2013) appeared in "Sardines", "A Quiet Night In", and "Tom & Gerri" respectively
Tamsin Greig (left, 2010), David Warner (centre, 2013), and Sophie McShera (right, 2014) appeared in "Last Gasp", "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge" and "Séance Time" respectively
Helen McCrory (left, 2015), Lorraine Ashbourne (centre, 2013), and Jessica Raine (right, 2015) appeared in "The Harrowing", "Nana's Party", and "The Devil of Christmas" respectively
Tamzin Outhwaite (left, 2015), Keeley Hawes (centre, 2014), and Fiona Shaw (right, 2016) appeared in "Empty Orchestra", "Diddle Diddle Dumpling", and "Private View" respectively
Rory Kinnear (left, 2012), Sian Gibson (centre, 2017), and Noel Clarke (right, 2015) appeared in "Zanzibar", "Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room" and "And the Winner Is..." respectively

As each episode of Inside No. 9 features new characters, the writers were able to attract actors who may have been unwilling or unable to commit to an entire series.[12] The writers' reputation also helped attract actors, with journalist David Chater saying that they "have developed such a track record over the years that many of the finest actors in the country jump at the chance to appear in their dark imaginings".[73] The fact that Pemberton and Shearsmith only played a single character in each story was a change for them; in The League of Gentlemen, the pair have played some 30 characters each, while, in Psychoville, they had played around five each.[28] Though Pemberton and Shearsmith generally starred in each episode, they did not necessarily take on the main roles. Shearsmith explained this by saying that they "didn't write this for us to be in. We wrote the stories first then thought, could we be in them?"[12] Pemberton appears in all episodes other than "The Harrowing", while Shearsmith appears in all episodes other than "Last Gasp".

Inside No. 9 guest stars
Series 1 Series 2 Series 3 Series 4 Halloween Special Series 5 Series 6
1. "Sardines"[74]
2. "A Quiet Night In"[75]
3. "Tom & Gerri"[76]
4. "Last Gasp"[77]
5. "The Understudy"[78]
6. "The Harrowing"[79]
1. "La Couchette"
2. "The 12 Days of Christine"
3. "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge"
4. "Cold Comfort"
5. "Nana's Party"
6. "Seance Time"
1. "The Devil of Christmas"
2. "The Bill"
3. "The Riddle of the Sphinx"
4. "Empty Orchestra"
5. "Diddle Diddle Dumpling"
6. "Private View"
1. "Zanzibar"
2. "Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room"
3. "Once Removed"
4. "To Have and To Hold"
5. "And the Winner Is..."
6. "Tempting Fate"
1. "Dead Line"
1. "The Referee's a W***er"
2. "Death Be Not Proud"
3. "Love's Great Adventure"
  • Debbie Rush
  • Gaby French
  • Bobby Schofield
  • Olly Hudson-Croker
4. "Misdirection"
5. "Thinking Out Loud"
6. "The Stakeout"

1. "Wuthering Heist"
2. "Simon Says"
3. "Lip Service"
4. "Hurry Up and Wait"
5. "How Do You Plead?"
6. "Last Night of the Proms"

Inside No. 9 Cast articles: 86


The first series of Inside No. 9 was shown in the UK on BBC Two (and BBC Two HD) between 5 February and 12 March 2014.[80][81] It was aired in Australia on BBC First, premiering on 5 January 2015.[82] The second series aired in the UK from 26 March to 29 April 2015, and aired in Australia from 27 July 2015.[83]

The first series was released on DVD on 17 March 2014. In addition to the six episodes, the DVD featured the making of feature "Inside Inside No. 9", including unseen interviews with Pemberton, Shearsmith and Kerr, and a photo gallery with previously unreleased photos.[84] Published by 2 Entertain,[85] the DVD was rated 18 by the British Board of Film Classification.[84] To publicise the DVD, the writers appeared at the Oxford Street, London, branch of HMV for a signing event on 20 March.[86] The DVD was reviewed by David Upton for webzine PopMatters, who gave the main feature an 8/10 rating, and the extras a 5/10 rating,[10] and Ben Walsh for The Independent, who gave the DVD overall 4/5.[85] Phelim O'Neill, reviewing the release for The Guardian, described the boxset as "very lendable", suggesting that it would help Inside No. 9 reach a wider audience.[87] South African newspapers The Sunday Times and The Star both published positive reviews of the DVD, with The Star's anonymous review saying the DVD "makes a great prezzie for cynics, so if you know any lawyers or journalists...".[88][89] The second series was released on DVD on 4 May 2015.[52] A review in the Leicester Mercury awarded it four out of five stars.[90] The advent of Series 3 saw Series 1&2 released on Blu-ray on 13 February 2017. Series 3 has a 27 March 2017 release on DVD and Blu-ray. The complete series 4 was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 12 February 2018, while series 5 was released only on DVD 23 March 2020, there is no Blu-ray release as of now for series 5.

Inside No. 9 Distribution articles: 15

Reception and performance

Critical reception

Many critics responded very positively to Inside No. 9. After the final episode of the first series, the comedic critic Bruce Dessau said on his website that it had "really set an early benchmark to beat for comedy of the year. It has been consistently compelling as each week we entered an entirely different world."[6] On the same day, David Chater, writing in The Times, said of the series as a whole that "[i]t's hard to know which to admire more – the rich and perverse imaginations of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith or the extraordinary range of acting talent that has brought this strange and memorable series to life."[91] Chater had previously described "A Quiet Night In", the second episode of Inside No. 9, as "the funniest, cleverest, most imaginative and original television I have seen for as long as I can remember – one of those fabulous programmes where time stands still and the world around you disappears".[92] Mark Jones (The Guardian) considered the whole series, saying that the Inside No. 9 was "never less-than-captivating",[5] while a review in the Liverpool Echo described every episode as "intriguing and lovingly-crafted", though it was felt that the first three episodes were stronger than the latter three.[93] In December 2014, Metro television critic Keith Watson named Inside No. 9 the twentieth best television programme of 2014,[94] and in January 2015, Daily Star Sunday columnist Garry Bushell named Inside No. 9 the best comedy TV programme of 2014.[95]

Writing before Inside No. 9 was televised, broadcaster and journalist Mark Lawson suggested that, among anthology series, the programme possessed "the potential to be remembered as a singular achievement".[13] Commending both the acting and writing of Inside No. 9, New Statesman television critic Rachel Cooke offered a positive verdict of the programme after seeing the first half of the series. Cooke expressed particular admiration of Pemberton and Shearsmith's ability to squeeze "perfectly formed narratives – characters with proper backstories, scenarios that are complicated and unwind relatively slowly – into just 30 minutes".[96] Also writing mid-series, journalist Gareth Lightfoot ca