Lauren is a second-year Film & TV student at university. She is working on incorporating her passion for Inside No.9 into her studies
What is Inside No.9?
Inside No.9 is a dark comedy anthology series that airs on BBC2. It started in 2014 and is still going strong, currently airing their sixth series on Monday nights.
It's written by best friends Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, two out of the four members of The League of Gentlemen. All of the episodes are written to be in one room/space with some kind of ending twist, and all both Shearsmith and Pemberton are in every episode (except for one each)
On June 6th 2021 the show won a BAFTA award for best comedy.
These are my personal top 10 episodes (even though I love almost every single episode) that I have ranked that I believe are great for people who haven't seen the show before. I highly recommend watching it, as there are 37 episodes, so there's definitely something for everybody.
All episodes are on BBC iPlayer, and while I don't know about international streaming services, all series 1-5 are all on DVD, and series six is on pre-order, releasing June 22nd 2021.
10. Sardines (Series 1, Episode 1)
Sardines was the first ever episode of Inside No.9, and it's still one of the greatest.
The episode sees Rebecca (Katherine Parkinson) and her friends and family play a game of sardines at her engagement party in her old family home.
The episode is extremely funny, claustrophobic and shocking at the same time, and the gradual adding of characters to the episode built up the atmosphere bit by bit and perfectly builds to the final discovery at the end.
9. Empty Orchestra (Series 3 Episode 4)
Ah, the proverbial "musical episode".
I could be biased because I love a good musical, but I absolutely love this episode.
This is an episode with no real "twist", however we witness a group of work friends celebrating Rodger's (Pemberton) recent promotion, when the rest of the gang find out there is a layoff around the corner.
The use of music in this episode is stellar, the songs are chosen in a manner that expresses the feelings of the characters in the episode (with the exception of a couple of songs) and isn't just used randomly without reason, and I think that's what makes the episode so great.
8. Cold Comfort (Series 2 Episode 4)
This is one of the few episodes that was actually directed by Reece and Steve.
The entire episode takes place from the view of security cameras in a comfort support line building, as Andy (Pemberton) starts his new job there.
I definitely did not see the ending of this episode coming, I was floored the first time I watched it, and after re-watching it I was able to spot clues in the other security cameras beside the main view which I think is an extremely clever move.
7. Simon Says (Series 6 Episode 2)
One of the newest episodes of the show, and one of the best of series 6.
This episode looks into fan culture, and the dangers of extreme fan behaviour. I'm going to leave it at that for this episode but trust me when I say it's one you do not want to skip.
There are funny, creepy, suspenseful, high tension moments throughout and that makes for a thoroughly entertaining watch.
6. The Understudy (Series 1 Episode 4)
This is one of the more underrated episodes in my opinion, I don't get why more people don't like this one.
The episode explores the power dynamic between main actors, understudies, and the egos that these people develop over time.
It's not necessarily one of the funniest episodes, but it's got some amazing character development and there isn't a dull moment in the half hour.
5. Riddle of The Sphinx (Series 3 Episode 3)
An episode about crosswords...how exciting....
My initial thoughts exactly. But it is honestly one of the most interesting episodes that Reece and Steve have written.
While a lot of the episode does mainly feature the giant crossword in the background of the image above, the actual story of the episode is so dark it's unbelievable. What starts as a university professor trying to teach someone how solve cryptic crosswords, derails into one of the most dramatic endings in the entire series.
4. Misdirection (Series 5 Episode 4)
My obsession with this episode totally doesn't stem from my love for Reece's character Dean Tavalouris, an awkward teen magician in League of Gentlemen, no, not at all...
Nonetheless it's such an intriguing episode, the entire idea is genius. I loved the idea that the entire episode basically was one giant misdirection, I truly had no idea where it was going, and it took me a while to understand how they were able to come to the ending.
3. Dead Line (2018 Halloween Special)
This was a live episode that was done for Halloween in 2018.
I refuse to talk about anything to do with the actual plot of this episode because this is truly one you need to go in blind for, it's absolutely amazing, especially considering that it was live.
I unfortunately wasn't able to catch it live when it aired originally, but I would've loved to as this was definitely something that was best experienced on the night.
Just don't look up anything about this one before you watch it.
2. How Do You Plead? (Series 6 Episode 5)
This is the most recent episode to air, it aired on Monday, June 7th, the day after the show won it's BAFTA, and boy, they chose the right episode to come straight after the win.
It encapsulates everything Inside No.9 is about. It's got scares, comedy, thrills, suspense, and not to mention one of the biggest twists they've done to date.
I'm still speechless about this episode, I can't begin to describe how much I loved it, it shot straight up to number two on my favourites list 24 hours after airing it was that good. It proves why they won the BAFTA, that they deserved it, that nobody does it like Reece and Steve.
1. Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room (Series 4 Episode 2)
Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever top this episode for me.
Watch it with tissues at the ready.
Crying is almost guaranteed. I cry every single time I watch it.
Again, I'm not going to talk about the plot very much, but I will say it's not a huge twist. The episode is more about the character development, the dynamic between Reece and Steve's characters as they're basically the only two characters in the episode. It will leave you stunned, I promise you that.