IN­SIDE IN­FOR­MA­TION

Reece Shear­smith and Steve Pem­ber­ton on the twisted third se­ries of In­side No. 9

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - WORDS NICK DE SEMLYEN

THE DARKLY COMIC an­thol­ogy se­ries In­side No. 9 (which sets each in­stal­ment in a place linked to the tit­u­lar digit) has be­come a cult TV favourite since its launch two years ago, with cre­ators Reece Shear­smith and Steve Pem­ber­ton re­cruit­ing a ros­ter of fresh stars, from Gemma Arter­ton to David Warner, for each new show. With the first episode of Se­ries 3 air­ing over the fes­tive sea­son and five more fol­low­ing early in 2017, we asked Shear­smith and Pem­ber­ton to talk us through their lat­est twisted tales…

THE DEVIL OF CHRIST­MAS

Steve Pem­ber­ton: It’s about a group on hol­i­day in an Alpine cabin, who be­come con­vinced they’re be­ing plagued by the Kram­pus. The beauty of do­ing an an­thol­ogy se­ries is you’re free to take it off in any di­rec­tion, and we de­cided to film this one ex­actly like an [episode of ] Arm­chair Thriller from the 1970s.

Reece Shear­smith: It’s not full-on Acorn An­tiques, but we did go back in time to a ridicu­lous de­gree. We shot it with re­ally old tech­nol­ogy at El­stree over two days. All the cam­era­men were over 70, be­cause no-one knows how to film that way any­more. Noth­ing like it has been shown on TV since 1979 — we had to get spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion for it to be broad­cast.

Pem­ber­ton: It was just a nice ex­per­i­ment, in the same way that in the first se­ries we did a silent episode and in the sec­ond we did one on CCTV.

THE BILL

Pem­ber­ton: One day we were sit­ting hav­ing lunch in Muswell Hill and saw three peo­ple ar­gu­ing over whose turn it was to pay the bill. They all wanted to be mag­nan­i­mous in front of the oth­ers.

Shear­smith: It’s a bit like Art, Yas­mina Reza’s play — four friends ar­gue over a very small thing and it just es­ca­lates. This row just gets big­ger and big­ger.

Pem­ber­ton: We thought, “Can we make an ar­gu­ment about a bill last half an hour?” And, well, we did it. PRI­VATE VIEW Shear­smith: Some char­ac­ters are in­vited to a pri­vate view of an art ex­hi­bi­tion. None of them know why they’ve been cho­sen. Pem­ber­ton: It’s al­ways a de­signer’s night­mare

once you set some­thing in a gallery, be­cause you have to cre­ate a room full of orig­i­nal art. We put in a lot of man­nequins, which is sort of short­hand for “some­thing bad is go­ing to hap­pen”. It’s a dark episode but funny as well. I play a health and safety of­fi­cer; Reece is an art lec­turer. Felic­ity Ken­dal, Fiona Shaw and Peter Kay are in it, too.

EMPTY ORCHES­TRA

Pem­ber­ton: The ti­tle is the lit­eral mean­ing in Ja­panese of “karaoke”. My char­ac­ter has been pro­moted and is cel­e­brat­ing in a karaoke booth with his of­fice col­leagues. But of course there’s lots go­ing on be­neath the sur­face. The story is told through the songs they pick. Shear­smith: It was prob­a­bly the most chal­leng­ing one to make. We were in a square box with a glit­ter­ball and it was like hell for a week. I’ve done mu­si­cals, but had never ac­tu­ally done karaoke be­fore.

Pem­ber­ton: We’d spend a whole day on one song, so by the end, talk about an ear­worm. Ev­ery­one would be hum­ming Whig­field’s

Satur­day Night. We all went a bit mad.

THE RID­DLE OF THE SPHINX

Pem­ber­ton: The idea was: “Can you drama­tise the com­ple­tion of a crossword?” Some­thing which is in­her­ently un­filmable. We have a pro­fes­sor who is try­ing to teach this young girl, played by Alexan­dra Roach, how to solve a cryp­tic crossword. So within the episode you get a mini-tu­to­rial. But it’s also a thriller in the vein of Sleuth. Shear­smith: When the BBC got the script they said it was like a cross be­tween Sleuth and Ed­u­cat­ing Rita. But they also said it read like it had been writ­ten by psy­chopaths.

DIDDLE DIPPLE DUMPLING

Pem­ber­ton: We came up with this story lit­er­ally on the way to the of­fice. We saw this shoe by the side of the road and thought, “Who would leave that there? And what if some­one be­came ob­sessed with find­ing out who it be­longed to?” Reece plays the man who slowly be­comes fix­ated on this shoe.

Shear­smith: When I was do­ing Ham­let at The Royal Court [in Lon­don] I saw a sin­gle shoe on the King’s Road. I texted you, didn’t I? You start see­ing them ev­ery­where once you start look­ing.

IN­SIDE NO. 9 IS ON BBC TWO IN LATE DE­CEM­BER (‘THE DEVIL OF CHRIST­MAS’) AND CON­TIN­UES IN EARLY 2017

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