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Series / Inside No. 9

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"This is Inside No. 9. It's all dark comedy and twists."
Reece Shearsmith, "Deadline"

Inside No. 9 is a British half-hour Anthology television series, first broadcast by the BBC in February 2014. Most episodes are some degree of Black Comedy, but the series occasionally plays with other genres, from straight drama to supernatural horror to Lighter and Softer farce. It was created and is written by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton (the two members of The League of Gentlemen who had previously created Psychoville), and every episode's cast includes one or both of them.

Each episode uses a different single location as the primary setting, all of which are somehow linked to the number 9. While this is often the address or number of the setting, the connection is at times a little more unusual or oblique (for example, one episode involves a size 9 shoe, while another involves a football player wearing the number 9 shirt). Locations include a gothic mansion, the sleeping car of a train, a cubicle in a call centre, an art gallery, a karaoke booth, a hotel corridor, a theatre changing room, and a police car.

Has Recap Pages for each episode.

The show provides examples of:

  • All There in the Script:
    • Due to "A Quiet Night In" having almost no dialogue, Paul is the only character whose name we don't have to wait for the credits to learn.
    • In "La Couchette", the dead man is referred to as Yves in the credits.
    • In "Séance Time", the boy's ghost is also named in the credits as William.
    • The credits for "The Bill" name the new victim of the con as Tim.
    • The credits for "The Devil of Christmas" reveal that the man who puts on the Krampus costume for the last scene is the young Dennis himself.
    • In "Empty Orchestra" the woman who sings 'Titanium' after coming in to the karaoke room early with her party at the end is named in the credits as Chantel.
    • The hitman in "Once Removed" is named by the credits as Viktor - although he's one of the main characters, his name is never given during the story (because none of the other characters knew it.)
  • Anyone Can Die: There is no Plot Armor for any of the protagonists in the series and it's your guess as to who lives and who dies.
  • Arc Number: Each episode takes place somewhere with the address of 9, or occasionally the name "nine", but rarely is that fact ever important to the story. The only aversions so far are "Diddle Diddle Dumpling", where the 9 is the size of a shoe; "Once Removed", where the house number isn't 9, it is just mistaken for one due to someone changing it; "Zanzibar", where the action takes place in a hotel's 9th-floor corridor (all of the rooms therefore have numbers beginning with 9, but the camera never sees inside any of them); "The Referee's A W***er" where the 9 refers to a football player's shirt, since the episode takes place in a changing room, which do not have numbers (although the word "inside" is still meaningful); and "Love's Great Adventure" where the 9 is a window in an advent calendar (the house might be no. 9, but we never find out).
  • As Himself: Averted in that the radio DJ played by Danny Baker in "Diddle Diddle Dumping" and the arts journalist played by Muriel Gray in "Private View" could easily have been credited as such, but are instead credited by the characters' job titles. Played straight with Adrian Dunbar in "Hurry Up and Wait", Dermot O'Leary in "Paraskevidekatriaphobia" and Lee Mack in "3 by 3".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A frequent occurence due to the dark, self-contained and twist-heavy nature of the stories, resulting in many characters who are ultimately revealed to be far worse than they first appear.
    • Paul in "A Quiet Night In".
    • Migg in "Tom and Gerri".
    • Kirstie in "The Understudy".
    • Dr Maxwell in "La Couchette".
    • Elizabeth in "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge".
    • George in "Cold Comfort".
    • Tyler in "The Riddle of the Sphinx".
    • Jean in "Private View".
    • Adrian in "To Have and To Hold".
    • "Jackie" in "And the Winner Is ...".
    • Keith in "Tempting Fate".
    • Gabriel in "Misdirection"
    • Bill in "Thinking Out Loud"
    • Varney in "The Stake-Out"
    • Iris in "Lip Service"
    • Bev in "Hurry Up and Wait"
    • Webster in "How Do You Plead".
    • Vicky in "Love is a Stranger".
  • Bittersweet Ending: In general, this is about as light an ending as you can expect from this show; it might not be a complete downer for all the characters, but it's rarely unambiguously happy either. Prominent examples include "Last Gasp", "The 12 Days of Christine", "Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room", "Love's Great Adventure", and "Merrily, Merrily". "To Have and to Hold" and "Misdirection" also feature this in a way; they don't exactly end well, but they do end in a way where otherwise reprehensible characters receive their just desserts.
  • Bottle Episode: Every episode takes place in a single location (inspired by the Bottle Episode in Psychoville, the creators' previous work.)
  • Camp Gay: Steve Pemberton tends to play these kind of characters, like in "Sardines", "The 12 Days of Christine" or "Zanzibar".
  • Children Are Innocent:
    • Tamsin in "Last Gasp", Jack in "The Twelve Days of Christine", Sally in "Diddle Diddle Dumpling", Levi in "To Have and to Hold".
    • MASSIVELY subverted in "Mr King". There's a lot of Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour from the kids, to say the least.They end up sacrificing Mr Curtis, the new teacher, with the help of the headmaster and the school cleaner.
  • Christmas Episode: "The Devil of Christmas", "Love's Great Adventure", and "The Bones of St Nicholas", although "Love's Great Adventure" aired in February.
  • Chromosome Casting: "The Referee's a W***er" and "Hold on Tight" contain no female characters. "Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room" has only one, very brief appearance from a woman, as does "The Stakeout" (and she doesn't appear in person, but we hear her voice over the police radio).
  • Chronically Killed Actor: Pemberton's characters have a tendency to die much more often than Shearsmith's, often by his hands. Pemberton's characters die while Shearsmith's survives in "Tom and Gerri", "Cold Comfort", "The Devil of Christmas" (well, the Film Within a Film), "The Riddle of the Sphinx", "Private View", "Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room" "Once Removed", "Misdirection", "The Stakeout" (in a manner of speaking), and "Lip Service". There are even borderline examples like "The Understudy" and "To Have and To Hold" where both characters technically survive, but Pemberton's characters end up permanently maimed. The reverse had never happened until Season 6, where it was frequently subverted. Of Season 6 and 7 episodes, "Wuthering Heist", "Simon Says", "Merrily Merrily", and "Mr King" all end with Shearsmith's character dying and Pemberton's surviving. As of Season 8, "The Last Weekend" can be added to this list.
  • Cruel Twist Ending:
    • "Sardines". Certainly one of the people in the wardrobe deserves what's about to happen, and arguably a few others, but most of them don't.
    • "The Harrowing." Unlike other episodes in the series, Katy does nothing to deserve her fate; she's chosen as Castiel's host because Hector and Tabitha feel that her strength of character will help to keep the demon contained.
    • "Cold Comfort" has two cruel twists in the ending, and Andy doesn't deserve anything that happens to him either.
    • "The Devil of Christmas." Kathy in the movie certainly deserves a nasty death, but the actress playing her probably didn't.
    • "Misdirection." Gabriel avenged his grandfather's murder by killing Neville's wife Jenny and framing Neville. Right at the end, we find out just what the detectives saw in the safe...a razor blade covered in Jenny's blood. While Neville certainly was a douchebag, Jenny is an innocent party.
    • "Love is a Stranger." Jai, a man with a severe facial deformity, uses a mouse emoji to hide his face and lies that his (non-existent) kids were messing around with his phone. Vicky tells him to show his face and he gives her his number before the chat ends. He comes to her house for a date...and not only does the date go horribly wrong when Jai tries to kiss Vicky, but he finds out the hard way that she is the Lonely Hearts Killer when she murders him with a hammer.
  • Downer Ending: Almost every episode, though a couple have a Bittersweet Ending instead. Averted in "Empty Orchestra" and "Zanzibar", which have a Happy Ending. "Once Removed", with its reverse chronology structure, might better be said to have a downer beginning.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • A twelve year old boy who wet himself on live television during a scary hidden camera show and was mercilessly bullied at school over it until he drowned himself in the river. Terry apparently knows what eventually happened as he doesn't want to talk about the incident.
    • Apparently Laura in "The Understudy", although it's much more likely Kirstie killed her.
    • Chloe, a helpline caller in "Cold Comfort" overdoses while on the phone with new volunteer Andy. He then tells off a Crazy Cat Lady and she commits suicide. But Chloe is actually supervisor George playing a sadistic game with Andy, which includes siccing the cat lady's gun wielding son on him.
    • Squires in "The Riddle of the Sphinx", all part of Tyler's plan.
  • Everybody Lives: The episodes "Nana's Party", "The Bill", "Empty Orchestra", "Zanzibar", "To Have and To Hold", "And the Winner Is...", "The Referee is a W***er", and "Love's Great Adventure".
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • The series is primarily a mix of horror and black comedy, but in Series 2 we have a straight drama in "The 12 Days Of Christine", and a lighter farcical comedy in "Nana's Party".
    • Every series tries for at least one episode with something unusual or different, including an episode with only one line of dialogue ("A Quiet Night In"), reverse chronology ("Once Removed"), an episode written entirely in iambic pentameter ("Zanzibar"), a series of dramatic monologues ("Thinking Out Loud"), and an episode that is partially animated ("Wise Owl").
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In every episode (with the exception of the online episode) there is a metal statuette of a silver hare which has been placed as a sort of "Where's Wally" challenge for fans.
    • In "Tempting Fate", the hare is revealed to be a cursed talisman.
  • Genre Shift: "The Harrowing", the first five episodes varied in how realistic they were but were all set firmly on Earth and then came supernatural gothic horror. Also some episodes are not, strictly speaking, comedy, "The 12 Days of Christine" in particular is not at all comedic (the Radio Times actually chose to categorise it under drama rather than comedy).
  • Julekalender: A variant - "Love's Great Adventure" is written in the style of an advent calendar following a family in each day leading up to Christmas.
  • Karmic Death: Migg in "Tom and Gerri", "Kathy" in the movie in "The Devil of Christmas", Bill in "Thinking Out Loud", Webster in "How Do You Plead?" and Maragret in "3 by 3". All the characters in "Sardines" and "A Quiet Night In" pretty much got this. In "Once Removed", a hitman is tricked into killing one of the people who hired him, before being killed himself by the real mark.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite many episodes being rather dark at times, there are a few which subvert Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton's typical trademarks. "Nana's Party" and "Empty Orchestra" are two very notable examples, as no character dies, and in the latter the adulterers get their comeuppance, the cheated girlfriend gets a promotion and the deaf girl gets the guy she wanted at the end.. Series 4 also fits this; "Zanzibar" is a light-hearted comedy, the ending of "Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room" is more poignant than actually dark, and "And The Winner Is..." is a satirical portrayal of an awards panel, with a dramatic, but not darker, final twist. "The Referee's a W***er" is also this as, while it's not free from sinister twists and morally ambiguous characters, the stakes are somewhat lower and less gruesome than usual, being mainly limited to secret affairs, closeted homosexuality and football-related corruption.
  • Minimalist Cast: A majority of episodes features no more than five characters. "Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room" and "The Stakeout" feature only the two main characters (except for a very brief appearance from a side character in the former.) Same for "The Last Weekend" which only has a guest character Mollie.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Used in-universe:
    • Terry, the host of Scaredy Cam in "Séance Time".
    • It's mentioned in "The Understudy" that Tony, despite being a leading Shakespearean actor who earns far more than the understudies, still has to take advertising voiceovers to pay the bills.
    • Dennis in "The Devil of Christmas" accepted the job of directing the movie because he couldn't get a slot on Worzel Gummidge and needed the money. Also seems to be the case with Brian (the actor playing Julian), who rushes through the final scene so he can go to a voiceover job.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The tone of "Séance Time" jumps all over the place to great effect, switching between horror and straight comedy several times.
    • At the end of "Cold Comfort", as a gun is aimed at Andy's head, the scene immediately cuts to the credits where Take That's "Shine" is playing cheerily.
    • "To Have and To Hold" appears to be a comparatively mundane story about a failing marriage until the revelation that Adrian is keeping someone prisoner in a secret room.
    • At the end of "Death Be Not Proud", as Beattie leaves the house, the scene cuts from Sam's body in the bloodstained bathroom to the ghosts of David and his mother dancing to Black Lace's 'Superman'.
  • No Name Given:
    • Because "A Quiet Night In" is a silent episode, most of the characters are given no name until the ending credits.
    • In "Séance Time", we never find out the real name of the guy who played the "Blue Demon Dwarf", even in the end credits. Word of God says it's Clive.
    • "The Devil of Christmas" never gives the real names of the actor playing Toby (it seems Dennis doesn't remember the boy's name).
  • Once a Season: The final episode of each season thus far has been horror-themed, usually involving supernatural elements. This was subverted in Season 6, which concludes with "Last Night at the Proms", leading some to suspect that it was flipped with "How Do You Plead?" which is a more traditionally horror-themed episode and is, this time, the penultimate episode of the season.
  • Once per Episode: Every episode has the number 9 showing up prominently somewhere in the opening shot.
  • Only Sane Man: Katy in "The Harrowing" and the Katy in "Nana's Party", Stevie in "Tom and Gerri", Tamsin in "Last Gasp".
  • Running Gag: The creators consider the fact that Pemberton's characters are regularly killed by Shearsmith's (at least once or twice per season) one of these; until Season 6, the reverse has never happened unless you count "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge" in which Clarke arranges for Warren to be executed in Elizabeth's place. Season 6 has "Simon Says", in which writer Spencer (Pemberton) suffocates Loony Fan Simon (Shearsmith) with a Vorpal Pillow.
  • The 'Verse: The abandoned idea for an episode centred around Maureen and David Sowerbutts would have made Psychoville a part of this shared universe as well. It finally happens during Season 5, with David, Maureen and Mister Jelly appearing in "Death Be Not Proud".
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • Kath and Shona are the only characters in "La Couchette" who try to insist on reporting the dead body.
    • Gerri is usually the voice of reason in her relationship with Tom although this is averted when "she" convinces him to drown Migg.
    • In "Last Gasp", Jan is the only person to show any real concern for Tamsin. Though the trope is also subverted with Sally, who is possibly the most greedy, venal and ruthless of all the adult characters.
    • Felicity in "The Understudy" has managed to hold together a high-profile stage production that's struggling because of its star's alcoholism and general unreliability.
    • Celia in the movie within "The Devil of Christmas" not only bluntly tells her son he's an idiot if he doesn't notice his wife's cheating on him, but takes charge of the situation and gets her grandson home safely when it looks like he's in danger.
    • In "Mother's Ruin", Frances is more practical and less rash than Reggie. Also applies to Annie, who managed to keep her stolen fortune hidden for the rest of her life, while her husband was swiftly caught, tortured, and murdered.

The online mini-episode "The Inventors" provides examples of:


Mistaken for Servant

Clive mistakes fellow juror Jackie for a waitress.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / MistakenForServant

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