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    5. All 55 episodes of Inside No 9 – by rating

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    All 55 episodes of Inside No 9 – by rating

    Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton in Mulberry Close Photo: James Stack/BBC

    Dark, devilish and full of twists and turns, No Inside 9 was the most inventive show on television, but now the curtain has come down. Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith conclude their horror-comedy anthology with a very fitting ninth series.

    Don't despair just yet, though. All 55 half-hour episodes are available to watch on iPlayer, Gold or Netflix. And since each part is a different story, you can dive in wherever you want. 

    The duo decided it was the perfect time to say goodbye. “Digitally it's our little joke,” Pemberton told Radio Times. “Nine episodes of Inside No. 9.” It could have easily stopped after five episodes, but we were determined to get to that milestone.” “I think we made our mark,” Shearsmith added. “We're both very, very proud of it.”

    Just because it's on TV doesn't mean it's the last time we'll see the couple's diabolical creation. It will hit theaters in January 2025 with a show called Stage/Fright promising “lots of new material and surprises for fans and newcomers alike.”

    For those who haven't opened that box yet television delights, Inside No. 9 is a wonderful comeback, inspired by retro series such as The Twilight Zone, Cabin Thriller, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. Essentially, each episode is a short play with its own plot, completely new characters and a new setting. 

    Almost all of them star either Pemberton or Shearsmith, usually both, as well as famous guest actors. All that unites the episodes is the number “9”, which is always present in one form or another (most often on the door number), and a certain figurine of a hare, as well as unexpected endings and a playfully creepy mood.

    Like The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville alums, the star writers were eager to do something without an overarching plot, where they weren't limited to the same old characters or locations every week. The creative freedom afforded by the anthology format means they can play more than any other show they've created. It pays dividends for us as viewers because Inside No. 9 is endlessly surprising. 

    Despite being one of the jewels in the crown of British television, the show remains relatively unnoticed. Hidden away on BBC Two after the watershed, its ratings were modest (around 2 million) and it took six episodes to gain Bafta recognition. However, it has a devoted cult following. Viewers who seek it out tend to become obsessed, binging on all the episodes they missed and actively discussing their favorites.

    So, which of the 55 twisted stories will come out on top? Here's our final countdown, from worst to best. Come to number nine if you dare…

    55. Last Breath (Episode 1)

    The fourth episode of its first run is a morality tale about a pop megastar who inflates a balloon for a terminally ill nine-year-old fan and then promptly collapses, meaning his last breath is trapped in the balloon. The girl's family realizes it's very valuable on eBay and eagerly argue over who owns it. Sly and sardonic, but lacking the series' signature killer twist. It's also a rare episode that doesn't feature Reece Shearsmith. Perhaps he acted wisely by avoiding.

    54. Last Night of Prom (Episode 6)

    An unusual misfire, largely due to its overtly political portrayal of Brexit Britain. At a Somerset estate, a married couple (played by Pemberton and the gorgeous Sarah Parish) are hosting their annual Proms viewing party. With the exception of this year, the pomp and circumstance is spoiled by some guests not singing from the same hymn sheet. This Play For Today throwback struggles with its uneasy mix of cringe-worthy comedy and clumsy preaching. Tasteless, not forever.

    Zoe Wanamaker in And The Winner Is… Credit: BBC 53. And The Winner Is… (Episode 4) )

    This episode joins the TV show's panel of judges as they decide which of the eight leading women deserves to win the Best Actress award. The guest cast, which includes Noel Clarke, Kenneth Cranham and Zoe Wanamaker, courageously tackles the stereotypical characters and everyday scenarios. It's enjoyable to watch, with the odd punchy line (“I never knew Marie Curie was a real person, I thought she was from a magazine”), but it lacks their usual flair, while many will see the final frame twist beyond mile. 

    52. Private Viewing (Episode 3)

    An uncharacteristically awkward episode in which a motley crew of mismatched characters – including fame-hungry Big Brother housemate Morgana Robinson, erotic fiction author Felicity Kendal and crazed dinner host Fiona Shaw – are mysteriously invited to a contemporary art exhibition. They are then kicked out one by one. Crude jokes and a confusing ending mean it's ultimately disappointing, plus it wastes Peter Kay's cameo.

    51. Paraskevidekatriaphobia (season 8)

    This unpronounceable name, of course, refers to the fear of Friday the 13th. Shearsmith plays a deeply superstitious man who decides to stay home on the fateful date to minimize the chance of something unfortunate happening. Little does he know that a whole bunch of misfortunes are about to knock on his door. Amanda Abbington and Samantha Spiro provide strong support, while Dermot O'Leary appears as himself. An old-fashioned farce with one plot twist that works and another that is gratuitously terrible.

    50.  Empty Orchestra (Episode 3)

    Karaoke? Oki Doki. The setting is a singing booth where a group of co-workers throw a fancy dress party to celebrate their boss's promotion. When it turns out that one of them is about to be fired, things take a tense turn. The music is cleverly interwoven, although distractingly noisy, but the good mood makes it light as a feather. The drug element feels tense too.

    49. Mulberry Close (Episode 9)

    The curious residents of Mulberry Close are eagerly awaiting their new neighbors at Number Nine (where else?), but something about Damon and Val (Shearsmith and Vinette Robinson) doesn't seem quite right. Shot with a fixed doorbell camera, it's a mash-up of Suburbia and Courtyard Window. Cleverly constructed, but let down by the late shift to lazy shock tactics. Good Netflix digs and Michael Ball cameos don't make up for it.

    48. Hurry up and Wait (Episode 6)

    The Virgin and the Donkey. Adrian Dunbar reprises his on-duty look in this playful police drama. Shearsmith is an actor playing a police officer in a crime drama based on the disappearance of a young boy in the area 20 years ago. Can he get his big break and solve the cold case while he's there? The mix of satire and mystery isn't quite right, and the twist ending, while effective, is a little jarring.

    47. Trolley Trouble (Episode 9)

    Surprisingly, this was the first two-handed fight in which only the creators of the show were present on screen. Pemberton plays the therapist who saves Shearsmith from jumping to his death from a bridge. But is it worth bringing him home for a heart-to-heart talk? Their confrontation, named after an experiment in ethical philosophy, sees the revelations come thick and fast before the chilling final image emerges. Tense but too wordy and ultimately unsatisfying.

    46. The Nine Lives of Kat (Episode 7)

    A puzzle box with episodes that use crime clichés within an evolving psychological drama. Katrina (Sophie Okonedo) is an alcoholic detective plagued by her demons but determined to solve the case of a missing boy. Or is she? The twists escalate until they become dizzyingly trippy. Both the characters and the audience begin to question everything. A stunningly irreverent meta-drama about the writing process, wrapped in a creepy police thriller. Cunning and super smart, but too smart to be a classic.

    45. Thinking out loud (episode 5)

    Six disparate characters delivered monologues to the camera, gradually intertwining as the story moved toward a murderous climax. It was clever and generally twisted, but executed with an unusual clumsiness, and the solution was laid out in an explanatory voice-over. Some viewers also criticized the portrayal of mental illness. However, guest star Maxine Peake gave a superb performance. 

    Best Performance: Nicola Walker with Steve Pemberton in To Have and To Hold 44. To Have and To Hold (Episode 4)

    When a wedding photographer's workaholism and bitterness over his wife's affair puts a strain on his own marriage, she desperately tries to rekindle their relationship. Cue a harrowing role-play sex scene (not yet, “Nurse Decoy”) and a highly implausible and very dark twist. Guest star Nicola Walker's performance is the highlight of this shocking instalment.

    43. Nana's Party (Episode 2)

    In this suburban comedy, a suspenseful domestic story reminiscent of a Mike Leigh film, a nervous couple throws a birthday party for their wife's 79-year-old mother. The family continues to fall apart due to alcohol, infidelity and bad pranks. It's too soapy and cheesy to do much good. Funny scene with the stripper, though.

    42. Death of a mother (episode 8)

    In the bloody gangster comedy, brothers Pemberton and Shearsmith (the pair's first time playing fact-obsessed siblings) set out to discover what dark secrets their East End villainous parents took to their graves. A surprising mystery with a supernatural twist, although the controversial black ending is almost as divisive as the ending of The Sopranos to which it pays homage. Guest star Phil Daniels was a standout character, but even his scenes were stolen by a possessed parrot.

    41. Understudy (episode 1)

    Divided into five acts, this tribute to Macbeth leans too heavily on its “Scottish play” inspiration. It's the story of a rivalry between a West End alcoholic and his disillusioned understudy, who ends up thrust into the limelight, but at a deadly cost. Gore-soaked and creepy, with a delightful twist from director Julia Davis, but a little ponderous and captivated by its own mind.

    40. Fun, fun (episode 7)

    Sort of like a League of Gentlemen reunion. Sensitive soul Lawrence (Shearsmith) has arranged a boat ride on a remote lake with two old university friends: snobby Dr Callum (Mark Gatiss) and goofy PE teacher Darren (Pemberton), joined by the latter's girlfriend (scene-stealer Diane Morgan). When their nostalgic conversation leads them into murky waters, secrets surface. This creepy remix of “Three Men In A Boat” boasted some brilliant one-liners, but the ending, while poignant, was too predictable.

    39. Diddle Diddle Dumpling (Episode 3)

    When a neurotic stay-at-home dad finds a lonely shoe while jogging, he becomes strangely fixated on finding its rightful owner, which strains his relationship with his worried wife Keeley Hawes. This bittersweet tale boasts melancholy performances from Shearsmith and Hawes, and a heartbreaking late revelation, but it lacks humour and the ending is too telegraphed.

    38. Simon Says (Episode 6)

    A sweet and nasty fable about the dangers of TV fandom. The Game of Thrones-style fantasy saga called The Ninth Circle ended with an infamously soggy ending. Now a pair of nerdy fans (Shearsmith and Nick Mohammed) visit the series creator (Pemberton), hoping to convince him to write another series and end it properly this time. A deadly struggle for power begins. A low-key but fun psychological thriller filled with sly showbiz nods.

    Last Weekend By James Stack/BBC 37. Last Weekend (Episode 8)

    Creative masterminds Pemberton and Shearsmith make an impressively convincing married couple in the penultimate series finale. Joe and Chas (or is it Chazz?) celebrate their ninth anniversary at a beautiful lakeside house, but how long does it take to say goodbye? The intense drama of a relationship gives way, as often happens, to something more diabolical. The scenes, named after the five stages of grief, pack a brutal punch. Don't have nightmares, Blue Denim Baby.

    36. Boo Goose (Episode 9)

    The latest episode began with this amazing ode to community and compassion. Night commuters' nerves were on edge when their subway train got stuck in a tunnel. Tensions flared when a homeless man walked through the carriage asking for money, a nurse's purse was stolen and charges flew. The excellent cast – Charlie Cooper, Joel Fry, Mark Bonnar and Siobhan Finneran all shine – create a gripping morality play with a dystopian ending you won't see.

    35. Tempting Fate (Episode 4)

    Inside No. 9 there's nothing more than “Tales of the Unexpected” in the style of this twisted little parable in which a figurine of a silvery hare comes to the fore. When three council contractors clean out the apartment of a reclusive hoarder, they discover a bloody floor, a dead rat, a locked safe and a terrible curse from beyond the grave. It's creepy, cleverly constructed and filled with twists and turns (perhaps a little too much), and guest star Weruche Opia (“Best Boy, I May Destroy You”) provides outstanding support. 

    Really scary: Session time. Photo: BBC 34. Showtime (Episode 2)

    When a young woman (Sophie McShera, aka Daisy the cook from Downton Abbey) visits a medium in a Victorian villa, events take an unexpectedly terrifying turn. Alison Steadman is generally great as the black-shrouded Madame Talbot, full of horror and genuinely scary. The many twists and turns get a little too 'meta', but it's an effective chiller with several jump-off-the-couch moments. 

    33. Baby/Dream (episode 7)

    In a high-stakes hostage situation, Daisy Haggard, the wife of a wealthy financier, is kidnapped by two squabbling criminals (Daniel Mays and Jason Isaacs). Naturally, the kidnapping does not go according to plan. The action is presented primarily in split screen, hence the slash in the title, which is used for comedic effect.  An enjoyable, if light, Roald Dahl-style tale with not one, but two plot twists. Bonus points for winning line: “I’m all ears…”

    32. After removal (episode 4)

    When a conveyancer arrives to collect a woman's belongings from her country house, a bizarre chain of events unfolds in reverse chronology. It boasts a gleefully high body count and devilishly clever time travel, but often feels too broad and farcical to be a textbook episode. Guest actresses Monica Dolan and Emilia Fox are somewhat wasted. 

    31. Lip Ministry (Episode 6)

    Suspecting that his spin doctor wife was cheating on him with her political boss, Pemberton hires a lip reader (Fleabag's Sian Clifford) to spy on the couple's hotel room tryst through binoculars. Naturally, he gets more than he bargained for. An intense, shape-shifting episode that defies expectations of multiple genre switches – from domestic tragedy to spy drama, from romantic noir to conspiracy thriller. Filled with neat gags and rug-pulling, this work is brilliant, although it doesn't bring complete emotional satisfaction.

    30. Love is a stranger (episode 8)

    The excellent Claire Rushbrook embodies this anti-romance as quiet loner Vicky, who meets all sorts of unsuitable men while online dating. After a series of humiliations, she finally makes the connection and swipes right. Has she found her perfect match? Or will Vicky fall victim to the feared Lonely Hearts Killer? A well-crafted dark comedy about looking for love in all the wrong places. Many may guess that we are talking about the mat, but Rushbrook's poignant performance is full of quiet melancholy.

    Referee – W *** er Photo: BBC/Sophie Mutevelyan 29. Referee – ***er (episode 5)

    This football-themed episode kicked off (pardon the pun) series five and was a meandering little bit of fun, whether you're a fan of the beautiful game or not. David Morrissey sitting in the referee's dressing room before the decisive match is great and even effective as the referee is about to retire. Ralf Little is his ambitious and attention-seeking assistant. What follows is a fascinating tale of promotions, demotions, massive brawls, match-fixing and surprising romance.

    28. Random Act of Kindness (Episode 7)

    The strained relationship between a single mother (Jessica Hynes, excellent as always) and her teenage son (Noah Valentine) gets a major push in the right direction thanks to a mysterious stranger (Pemberton). Yet there is much more to his tender domestic drama than meets the eye. A terribly emotional story, but unfortunately its stunning ambition was not justified by BBC Two's modest budget. One of those times when you want to shell out money for streaming services.

    27. Curse of the Ninth (episode 9)

    The film follows a piano tuner (Shearsmith) who is called to an Edwardian village where he is forced to confront the deadly power of a centuries-old curse. High quality haunted house action. A stellar cast (Eddie Marsan, Natalie Dormer, Hayley Squires), an innuendo-laden script and real classical music superstitions make for a compelling mystery, although some fans couldn't help but expect an extra plot twist in the finale. frame.

    26. Thunder Heist (Episode 6)

    In this crime adventure, daringly staged in the style of 16th-century Italian commedia dell'arte and set in a Reservoir Dogs -style warehouse, crime boss Paterson Joseph recruits a masked crew for an elaborate diamond heist, unaware that half the gang was planning to deceive the rest . Gemma Whelan shone as a stunning fourth underboss. Bold, brilliantly executed fun, but more in the farcical tradition of Inside No 9 than on the dark side.

    25. 3 by 3 (row 8)

    The rarity of Inside No 9. Not only does it feature neither Shearsmith nor Pemberton, but it wasn't branded as part of the anthology until the end credits. After deceiving fans by promoting a fake parody of On The Buses, they instead inserted a perfect game show knockoff into the schedule. Lee Mac presides as three teams compete for a cash prize, but there's more to the quiz-obsessed Oakwood family than meets the eye. The pacing is masterful – dropping hints that this is a hoax, creating a sense of foreboding, climaxing in supernatural shock. The show's eight episodes were still full of surprises.

    24. Mr. King (episode 7)

    A sinister tale that wouldn't seem out of place in the duo's alma mater, The League of Gentlemen. As teacher Shearsmith takes up his new position at a rural Welsh primary school, he struggles to escape the shadow of his fondly remembered predecessor, Mr King. Little does he know that he has a vital role to play in the village's harvest festival. A hilariously twisted homage to classic folk horror, complete with creepy kids. Local edition for local residents.

    Scary Tale: The Christmas Devil Photo: BBC 23. The Christmas Devil (Episode 3)

    This festive ‘film within a film’, spooking the 2016 Christmas schedules, is one of the boldest episodes of the format – and one of the most disturbing. Shot in the style of a Seventies horror film, it shows an English family on holiday in an Alpine chalet being told a creepy folk tale about the demonic Krampus. The footage then rewinds and Derek Jacobi’s director’s commentary kicks in. The nasty, black twist is shocking but satisfying, the retro stylings top notch. All it needs is a little wit. Bah, nonsense.

    22. The Trial of Elizabeth Gage (Episode 2)

    It's like Horrible Histories for adults. An old crone (Ruth Sheen) is accused of witchcraft in the 17th century village of Little Happens and will be burned at the stake if found guilty. The local judge (horror stalwart David Warner) calls in two famous witch-finders, partly as a publicity stunt, to put the town on the map. It's a lovingly crafted horror spoof that had some Blackadder-esque fun and old language, but some viewers found the supernatural ending lackluster. (Great joke about Goody Two-Shoes though.)

    21. The Bones of St. Nicholas (Episode 8)

    This holiday treat finds pompous Dr. Parkway (Pemberton) spending Christmas Eve in a church said to be haunted. He is annoyed to discover that he is not the only one who has made a reservation. He is joined by a chatty married couple (Shearsmith and Shobna Gulati), while an eccentric churchwarden (Simon Callow) is always around. So why is Parkway so desperate to be left alone? A clever take on the season's ghost story, this morality tale is equal parts funny and creepy.

    20. La Couchette (Episode 2)

    All aboard Agatha Christie with chronic flatulence. The second series began with this claustrophobic mystery set in the cramped confines of a French train sleeper. Passengers try to sleep, but this becomes impossible due to noisy arrivals and the discovery of a corpse in one of the bunk beds. Another great guest cast – Julie Hesmondhalgh, Mark Benton, Jessica Gunning and Jack Whitehall – deliver a comedy script with another killer twist. However, perhaps there are too many scatological jokes to make it to the top????? 

    19. Misdirection (Episode 5)

    Reese Shearsmith indulges his passion for magic in this creepy tale of revenge against a murderous illusionist. Nine years after the famous Neville Griffin (Shearsmith) killed veteran actor Willie Wando (Steve Pemberton) and stole his “chair lift” levitation trick, Wando's grandson Gabriel (Fionn Whitehead) poses as a student journalist for an interview. at Griffin's. What follows is a magician's game of cat and mouse, complete with recent twists and ingenious discoveries. 

    18. The Bill (Episode 3)

    This little theatrical gem follows four friends who go out for a post-badminton tapas dinner and the circular argument that breaks out over who should foot the bill, much to the irritation of the waitress. The tight script is slow to reveal its secrets, but when it does, it's worthy of Roald Dahl. Guest stars Philip Glenister, Ellie White and Jason Watkins shine, and the twists are deliciously done. Let's go Dutch in the future.

    Shakespeare Meets Richard Curtis: Zanzibar Credit: BC 17. Zanzibar (Episode 4)

    Few comedies are creative enough to feature rhyming couplets in prime time. Episode four began with this bedroom farce set in one corridor of the Zanzibar Hotel, where guests speak in iambic pentameter. Q: Attempted murder, mistaken identity, on-camera monologues and a romantic comedy about Shakespeare meeting Richard Curtis. Led by Rory Kinnear in a dual role, the film is deftly written, acted with a knowing wink and full of five-star charm.

    16. Torturous (Episode 1)

    “Who lives here, Munsters?” The debut series reached a chilling climax with this gothic yarn. Two schoolgirls sit at home in a creepy mansion and are called upstairs by the residents' bedridden, disabled brother, who has cloven legs and a bandaged mouth. A truly terrifying film with a dark ending that replaces humor with nightmarish scares. Guest stars Helen McCrory and Aimee-Ffion Edwards are excellent. It is also noteworthy that this is a rare series without Pemberton.

    15. Death Is Not Proud (Episode 5)

    An unexpected surprise for fans of PemberSmith's previous project, Psychoville, this was actually a bold crossover episode. It begins with a young couple (played by Jenna Coleman and Kadiff Kirwan) moving into a haunted apartment. The property soon began to reveal its dark secrets, leading to the introduction of short-haired serial killer David Sowerbutts and his grotesque mother Maureen into Psychoville, much to the delight of fans. There was even a controversial cameo by the bumbling, hook-handed clown Mr. Jelly. Add in metaphysical poetry puns, dance numbers, grown-up babies and actual babies, and you get a hilarious dark comedy mixed with creepy horror. “Sorry, mom, I committed a bad murder…”

    14. Dead Line (Halloween Special)

    When Pemberton and Shearsmith boldly took on live television, we should have expected the unexpected. What started out as a typical twisted story about a lost cell phone soon turned into something more meta, in the vein of the notorious 1992 mockumentary Phantom Watch. The sound was cut, the announcer apologized for the technical problems, and we were plunged into the thrilling horror of the backstage of a haunted television studio. Comic details, parody news and tweets from the stars enhanced the experience. Viewers who didn't fall for the fake glitches and change the channel were rewarded with some serious scares. 

    13. The Riddle of the Sphinx (Episode 3)

    This deliberately evasive and wordy episode revolved around cryptic crossword puzzles. A girl breaks into the office of a classic Cambridge professor and crossword solver, who catches her red-handed and begins teaching her how to solve cryptic clues. Naturally, unexpected twists and turns emerge and the whole thing turns into a beautifully constructed revenge thriller. Gothic, terrifying, dizzyingly clever and, although humorless, extremely enjoyable. 

    12. Tom & Jerry (episode 1)

    Cat and mouse game, anyone? When a hairy homeless man returns a lost wallet to primary school teacher Tom, a mysterious tramp moves in with him – much to the annoyance of Tom's girlfriend Jerry (Gemma Arterton). This Pinter-esque domestic thriller plays with audience expectations, layering twist upon twist and building a sense of escalating dread until it reaches a spectacular, bleak conclusion.

    11. CTRL, ALT, ESC (series 9)

    The penultimate episode contains an unexpectedly poignant plot twist. Jason (Pemberton), his wife Lynn (Katherine Kelly) and their two teenage daughters (Callie Tant stands out as the sarcastic eldest child) take the whole family to a local escape room run by Shearsmith's actor-assistant. It's not really fun for the girls, but they patiently indulge their puzzle-obsessed father. Can Jason find a way out of the Murderer's Lair before they run out of time? The final reveal was heartwarming and quite beautiful, with a rare happy ending. Isn't it?

    10. Cold Comfort (Episode 2)

    This innovatively shot and suspenseful film unfolds entirely from the CCTV perspective of a Samaritans-style helpline, where a difficult phone call from a suicidal teenager has traumatic consequences for the volunteers. Filmed with four fixed cameras with all the feeds on screen, it is visually static but expertly staged. Guest stars Jane Horrocks and Nikki Amuka-Bird provide impeccable support and it all ends with a bang. 

    “Craft” Credit: BBC/James Stack 9. “Craft” next (episode 9) 

    One for the fans, but in their final episode, the adorable devilish duo earned it. In the unisex toilets at their own series wrap party, a galaxy of 49 guest stars from previous episodes came and went (Anne Reid, see “Sardines” below, was a particular star of the scene), and it soon became obvious why our tuxedo-clad hosts avoided each other. Will they be able to mend their damaged friendship? And what will their next project be? Packed with jokes and callbacks, it was the best half-hour hit. Masterfully meta, extremely interesting and emotionally satisfying ending.  

    8. Sardines (Episode 1)

    The first episode of them all set the bar alarmingly high. During an engagement party in a stately home, guests play sardines. One by one they squeeze into the wardrobe and scandalous secrets are revealed. The stunning cast includes Katherine Parkinson, Timothy West, Anna Chancellor, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Anne Reid and Tim Key, and the script skillfully takes the production from fun and games to killer tension. It's Beckett-meets-Hitchcock: claustrophobically tense, black comedic brilliance.

    7. Breakdown (Episode 5)

    Shearsmith and Pemberton take center stage themselves and just miss the top five all-time. The pair play unassuming police officers guarding a cemetery plagued by drug use and vandalism. As they squabble and banter in patrol car number nine, we learn that a senior officer is recovering from a recent injury and another is calmly advising him – until an unexpected turn of events at the end takes the action into a whole new genre. As history reveals its diabolical hand, viewers realize that the creative duo have been leaving us clues all along. 

    6. How do you plead? (episode 6)

    A damn tasty piece of fantasy horror, beautifully executed. The famous lawyer, played by the great Sir Derek Jacobi, dies in bed. However, he has a bad conscience, so he calls his saintly guardian (Shearsmith) to take some things off of him. Alan Bennett meets Angel Heart, anyone? The double twist ending was unexpected and chillingly dark even by Inside No 9's standards, and Jacobi was perhaps the show's best guest star. However, nerds take note: this was strictly his second episode after voicing Season 3's “A Devil for Christmas.”

    5. Wise Owl (episode 7)

    – Don't be a jerk, you. Shearsmith is devastating as the troubled Ronnie, who has spent his life trying to do the right thing, guided by memories of the Wise Owl public service films from his childhood. These seventies Charlie Says style animations are really spot on. However, in this heartbreaking episode, childhood nostalgia soon turns nightmarish. The dark humor comes from bad taxidermy, the creepiness comes from the mounting fear. When buried secrets come to the surface, it creates a real emotional resonance. An eccentric gem, not least when the triumphant twist leads to an inspiring ending. 

    Bernie Clifton's dressing room Photo: BBC/Sophie Moutevelian 4. Bernie Clifton's dressing room (episode 4)

    Washed Nordic Double Action Cheese & The Crackers (as they put it, “from the back of the bandstand”) reunite after 30 years apart to perform one last concert in front of an invited audience. As they rehearse their hoary old material, grievances resurface and the incident over which they fell out comes back to haunt them. An expressively nostalgic, poignantly heartfelt two-hander (guest star Sian Gibson appears only fleetingly, although crucially), it has a quality that will take your breath away and bring tears to your eyes. Great.

    3. Love's Great Adventure (Episode 5)

    This naturalistic kitchen sink drama, along with Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room (4) and The 12 Days of Christina (1), was one of the most impressive 24-scene episodes. save enough money to make Christmas special. Their secrets were gradually revealed, their problems were resolved, and everyone came together to celebrate a holiday ode to family. Combining poignant tragedy with warm comedy, it was an artfully constructed love story and understated pleasure. 

    2. Silent Night in (Episode 1)

    One of the most complex undertakings of the endlessly creative show was this brilliant, almost silent comedy. Two hapless cat burglars break into a chic modernist home to steal a priceless painting, sneaking around while the couple living there argue. This hypnotic half-hour film combines old-fashioned farce with modern twists and deadly twists. (Oddly enough, guest star Oona Chaplin is even the granddaughter of silent film king Charlie Chaplin.) Devoid of the usual witty dialogue, it was a bold experiment for just the second episode, but the duo pull it off with great wit and style.

    Never Better: Sheridan Smith in The 12 Days of Christina 1. 12 Days of Christina (Episode 2)

    No prizes for guessing our number one. Audiences were stunned by this devastating 2015 mini-masterpiece starring Sheridan Smith (never better). After Christina meets Adam (Tom Riley) at a New Year's Eve costume party, her life begins to crumble around her and her happiness slowly turns to grief. A dozen holidays, 13 months apart, provide snapshots of Christina's life, but gradually the clues – flashing lights, broken eggs, alarm clocks, visions of a mysterious man – transform into something eerily emotional, dreamlike and deeply moving. Like an arthouse film occupying one-third of its running time, it's a tour de force of storytelling, craft and chronology that adds up to some of the best 29 minutes of television you'll ever see. If you haven't been able to enjoy it, look it up.

    What is the best episode of Inside #9? Do you agree with our rating? Let us know in the comments below.

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