When you turn on an episode of Inside No. 9, you’re never quite sure what you should expect. Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s anthology series spins disparate 30-minute tales, sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing, often a mix of both – and there are no rules, no formula for how it has to go down, other than each involving a ‘number 9’ in some way.
Speaking to Pilot TV in the new issue – on sale Thurs 23 January with the new issue of Empire – Pemberton hinted at what’s to come in the upcoming Series 5. The last we saw of the pair, they fooled the nation with a genius live Halloween episode – something which prompted them to go back to basics for the new set of instalments. “We thought we’d avoid doing anything like that and go back to just telling stories,” he says. “In the new series we’ve got an episode about football; I’ve had this idea for a long time for an episode set in a referee’s changing room before the game, during half time, and after the game.” Meanwhile, Shearsmith worked on an episode involving a magician – take a look below at an exclusive image.
The duo are also, once again, playing with form and style from episode to episode. “This time, we’ve got this very different episode in which we used improvisation a lot, trying something very naturalistic which didn’t hinge on plot, and that was a reaction to our own work,” Pemberton explains. “It’s a very simple idea: an advent calendar counting down 24 slices of life in a normal family.” And then there’s an episode with six monologues, delivered directly to a fixed camera. “That felt very new for us because of the simplicity of it.”
Read more about the upcoming series of Inside No. 9 in the Picard issue of Pilot TV, hitting newsstands with Empire on 23 January. Inside No. 9 Series 5 begins on BBC Two this February.