Interview with writers and cast of BBC Two's Inside No. 9

Inside No. 9 returns to BBC Two, with a host of well-known faces joining Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith in the second series of the critically acclaimed and award-winning BBC comedy.

Published: 9 March 2015
Hopefully they are all little half an hour treats, little single plays, which aren’t done very much anymore.
— Steve Pemberton

Each story in the series will again be set in a different location, with completely new characters. From a sleeping-car on a French train to a Séance in a grand Victorian villa, and from a 17th century village witch trial to a volunteer call centre, this is an anthology of tales of the genuinely unexpected, where the ordinary and mundane rub shoulders with the extraordinary and macabre.

Daring to enter No. 9 and experience its unexpected twists and turns in this series are Alice Lowe (Sightseers); Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey); Claire Skinner (Outnumbered); David Warner (Wallander); Jack Whitehall (Bad Education); Jane Horrocks (Trollied); Jim Howick (Horrible Histories); Julie Hesmondhalgh (Cucumber); Mark Benton (Waterloo Road); Michele Dotrice (Big School); Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones); Sheridan Smith (Mrs Biggs, Cilla) and Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons).

Interview transcript

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith

Steve: "You join us here at Twickenham studios and we are currently filming an episode of the new series of Inside No. 9 called La Couchette and this behind us is the Couchette."

Reece: "This again is quiet an intimate situation. We thought it would be a funny idea that you are at the point where you want to be relaxed and it’s where you are the most embarrassed because you’re potentially in a room full of strangers when you try to go to bed at night, that’s kind of an odd frisson to play with. So we thought it would be a good idea, six people arriving in a tiny carriage to go to bed and their experience of that night."

Jack Whitehall

"I play a character called Hugo, who is a sort of trustafarian interrailer who’s on the train on his gap year. It’s definitely the most intimate location I have ever been on. As you can see, it’s been constructed there and it’s all on springs so it moves around like a train carriage - and I suffer from very bad motion sickness so on the first day I threw up. I had to literally run off the set half way through a scene and throw up in the loo. So it was quite an auspicious start."

Mark Benton and Julie Hesmondhalgh

Mark: "The joy of it is finding out how to do things in such a small space. I know it’s a struggle sometimes for the camera boys, but for us it’s great because we all read the scripts, and you go great, but when you are in the space it’s a completely different thing."

Julie: "The beds are very narrow and we’re both on the top bunk and it’s very, very high up and it’s moving all the time. I thought it would be done by some motorised thing but it’s actually two lads shaking it behind the set."

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith

Steve: "What’s brilliant is as soon as we started rehearsing, you know we’re climbing up and down ladders, you’re literally on top of each other, so instead of acting face to face most of your acting is to the bunk above or the bunk below so it just brings a whole new level, literally a whole new level to how to play scenes with other people. You just have these different types of people all trapped in the same space."

Reece: "If you’ve never seen the show the basic concept is each week we have a different number 9. It doesn’t always necessarily have to be a house, but it often is either a house or a flat or a dressing room, we had in the last series. That is your starting point to enter into that building or room and have a story there. Each week is a very different setting, different set of characters, a new intriguing little story with a small cast and Steve and I are the only link really throughout the whole series as we appear as different characters throughout the six stories."

Jack Whitehall

"I was a massive fan of the first series and may or may not have nagged Reece and Steve to find a Jack Whitehall-shaped hole in the second series so I’m very thankful that they managed to do so."

Steve Pemberton

"When you arrive at each week you think this is going to be the best one; this is my favourite one so far. And then by the time you finish on Saturday, start a new one on the Monday that becomes your favourite very quickly. Hopefully they are all little treats - that’s what we want them to be, little half an hour treats, little single plays, which aren’t done very much anymore. The cast that come on have a ball doing them and it’s like a little company each week. We’ve absolutely loved doing it, it’s a great way to work."


Episode synopses

La Couchette

On board the sleeper from Paris to Bourg St. Maurice, a motley collection of passengers try to get a quiet night's sleep as the train makes its way across France. But as the sleeping compartment fills up, the chances of that begin to look highly unlikely. In Deuxième Classe, everyone can hear you scream...

La Couchette features Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street, Cucumber), Mark Benton (Waterloo Road), Jessica Gunning (Pride), and Jack Whitehall (Bad Education).

The 12 Days of Christine

Christine Clarke brings a new man back to her flat from a New Year's Eve party, and immediately her life starts to unravel. Who is the terrifying stranger that keeps appearing in the flat at night?

The 12 Days of Christine features Sheridan Smith as Christine Clarke and Tom Riley as Adam.

The Trial Of Elizabeth Gadge

Two of England's most notorious and feared witch-finders are summoned by Sir Andrew Pike to the unassuming village of Little Happens in order to try an old woman. Elizabeth Gadge stands accused of consorting with the Devil, most lewdly and on divers occasions. If she is found guilty, she will burn. It is very definitely the most exciting event in Little Happens since the business of the escaped cow.

The cast includes David Warner as Sir Andrew Pike, Ruth Sheen as Elizabeth Gadge, with Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Paul Kaye, Jim Howick, Sinéad Matthews, and Trevor Cooper.

The remaining episodes in the series are Cold Comfort, set entirely in a volunteer call centre, Nana’s Party, which follows the story of a modern day family get-together and Séance Time, based in a grand Victorian villa.

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