Q&A/PREVIEW: Inside No 9 with Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton

WHERE?: BFI

WHEN: 5/9

Sir Derek Jacobi is the narrator of the BBC’s children series In The Night Garden and, here, in the third season of dark BBC2 comic delight Inside No. 9, well, he’s … that would be telling ….

  • Read on for more teasers from the third series of BBC2 dark comedy series Inside No. 9

Reece Shearsmith is about to tour in classic theatrical drama The Dresser before a West End run at the Duke Of York’s Theatre and so we’re here at the BFI (where both previous seasons of this anthology comedy classic were launched) not knowing exactly when this third series will start on BBC2. Although we’re expecting it before Christmas.

We’re shown two of the six films (The Bill and The Devil Of Christmas). One is a contemporary drama about who pays the tapas bill after a night of badminton starring Philip Glenister and Jason Watkins. And the other? Well, it’s a bit special. More of that later.

Pemberton discusses how he and Shearsmith write and have lunch together each day. It was while they were both in a restaurant that they overheard a group of elderly people bickering over the bill and an idea for an episode took shape.

‘The key is how to sustain that,’ says Pemberton. ‘How do you keep that story alive in that one location.’

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The shock twists that the series is renowned for feature prominently in both episodes we see tonight. Most memorable is The Devil Of Christmas set in Austria on Krampusnacht in 1977 as a family holiday (see picture above at top) and wait to find out which children are given gifts by St Nicholas and how the bad ones will be punished by Krampus.

The episode features Rula Lenska and Jessica Raine, both in the audience tonight, and a voiceover by Sir Derek Jacobi (mentioned above) as the director.

It was directed by Graeme Harper, a veteran of classic Doctor Who episodes, who describes how terrifying it was when the decision was taken to shoot with equipment from the 70s to give the episode an authentic feel.

Pemberton says: ‘We’re hoping you could slot it into a retrospective of 70’s chillers and no-one would be able to tell the difference.’

The episode is memorable for so many reasons not least the showbiz anecdotes of the director voiced by Sir Derek. On the peculiarities and seriousness of filming: ‘It’s Gandhi in the morning and Hollyoaks in the afternoon.’

Pemberton says of Raine: ‘‘We broke Jessica. She’ll never be able to snap out of that acting now.’

Earlier Shearsmith talks of what makes Inside No. 9 so different.

‘No-one’s doing them. We’re bringing back the anthology series with a great beginning, middle and end where you’re not trapped in a 24-week box set. I’m slightly exhausted at the thought of it.’

Producer Adam Tandy adds: ‘We’re trying to make a short feature film on a sitcom budget.’

Asked where League Of Gentleman collaborator Mark Gatiss is, Pemberton jokes: ‘We had him in Psychoville. We’ve yet to be asked to be in Sherlock.’

And would the anthology make a future feature film? ‘It would be nice to do a film,’ says Pemberton. ‘It would have to be quite low key. A haunted house story would be good – and quite cheap.’

  • Picture courtesy Reece Shearsmith via Facebook.
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