In less than a week’s time, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s Inside No.9 returns for its highly anticipated third series.
Following the splendidly chilling festive themed The Devil of Christmas, the remaining five episodes start their broadcast on BBC Two February 21st at 10pm. In perhaps one of the smartest decisions made by the BBC, a fourth series was ordered last year and production is due to start later this month.
In an insightful interview with Pemberton and Shearsmith (which you can read in full here), the duo discussed their writing process.
“It’s lovely. We got commissioned immediately after series three, so we carried on writing series four, and that’s why it’s ready to start filming now. It’s nice that we can talk about the third one and know that we’ve got the fourth.”
“We don’t throw ideas away really. We just keep them for the next series! We now have an in-built sense, as we’re talking, of whether an idea has hooked us in or not. We’ll know just between us if we’ve got that, and that’s enough just to start.
We work on instinct, we’ve never done any formal training or read books about writing, and the fact we’ve been writing together for 20 years means we have a very easy working relationship, we just get on with it. We don’t agonise any more like we used to when we did The League of Gentleman.”
The possibilities of an anthology series are endless, not many TV shows completely reset every episode, and while that does give the duo an enormous amount of creative freedom, it’s also a very haunting task according to Shearsmith.
“It’s gruelling for Steve and I because we lurch from one world to the next, week after week. Whereas the stars are fresh as daisies. But that’s also the thing that rejuvenates us, that we’re in a different world, with a different character and make-up, so you can sort of reset yourself and start again.”
In today’s binge watch TV world, it can be difficult to find time to watch all the “must-see TV” that is being thrown at us on a monthly basis. Pemberton makes an elequent point that Inside No.9 serves as the perfect antidote for binge watching as every episodes is self-contained.
“When we came up with the idea it was going against the tide of what was popular, which were 22-episode box sets which you could consumer night after night, and follow over seven series. And that has its place, but personally I find myself getting a bit tired of that, because it’s such a massive commitment.
It’s quite refreshing to just have these six half-hours – you can watch them in any order, you can skip one out, you can catch up. They’re like short stories, they can be very refreshing to the palate.
If you are stuck watching episode 62 of Westworld wondering what the hell’s going on, you can just come to Inside No. 9 and within half an hour you’ve had a fully formed story. You’ve been taken on a journey, and you can pack an awful lot into 30 minutes. That’s what we try to achieve.”
Inside No.9 Returns to BBC Two February 21st at 10pm.