I Ranked The 20 Best Episodes Of "Inside No. 9" — Here's What Made The Cut
The spookiest show on the BBC has returned.
Phenomenal black comedy
Inside No. 9 returned this week for a brand new series. The popular anthology show is now in its sixth season, which promises more twisted tales from series creators Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.
For those not aware,
Inside No. 9 is basically like a VERY British Black Mirror. Each thirty-minute episode contains a new story with new characters, and there's always a HUMONGOUS twist. It's a must-watch for any horror fans, but the series is often very funny and poignant too!
Reece and Steve appear in new roles in practically every episode of
Inside No. 9, and are joined by ever-changing cast made up of some of the best British and Irish acting talent there is!
Over the years, Gemma Arterton, Helen McCrory, Philip Glenister, Maxine Peake, Tamsin Greig, Sheridan Smith, and Fiona Shaw have all made appearances in the series.
To celebrate the return of
Inside No. 9, I thought I would rank the 20 best episodes there have ever been, not including the current series. 🚨 BEWARE, there are minor spoilers ahead for the previous five seasons. 🚨
"Empty Orchestra" (series three, episode four)
What it's about: A group of office workers throw an '80s-themed karaoke party for their boss. But when news of a layoff gets out, rivalries begin to escalate. Who's in it: Sarah Hadland, Tamzin Outhwaite, Javone Prince.
Why it's good: There's no big twist in this episode, but it's nice and wholesome nonetheless!
"The Stakeout" (series five, episode six)
What it's about: Whilst stuck on a night shift together, PC Varney learns that PC Thompson's previous partner was killed in a brutal attack. Thompson can't fathom what on earth happened to his colleague – can Varney help him discover the truth? Who's in it: Malik Ibheis, Rebecca Callard.
Why it's good: Steve and Reece's natural chemistry keeps this episode ticking over. You also may not see the twist coming, which is fun!
"And the Winner Is..." (series four, episode five)
What it's about: A television awards jury meet to discuss who will win the coveted Best Actress award at their upcoming ceremony. Only one person can be chosen, and who that is will depend on the embattled jurors in the room. Who's in it: Zoë Wanamaker, Kenneth Cranham, Fenella Woolgar.
Why it's good: This is a really genius episode with great performances all around and a tidy little surprise at the end!
"The Riddle of the Sphinx" (series three, episode three)
What it's about: A Cambridge cryptic crossword expert is visited by a fan who wants to better her deductive skills. But their ensuing battle of wits belies a much darker agenda. Who's in it: Alexandra Roach.
Why it's good: The setting and vibe of this episode are really interesting – fans of Jonathan Creek and Sherlock will dig this one!
"Thinking Out Loud" (series five, episode five)
Wh,at it's about: Seven disparate strangers share details of their lives on camera, but little do they know they are all heading for an inevitable and rather dramatic collision. Who's in it: Maxine Peake, Phil Davis, Sara Kestelman.
Why it's good: I just think everyone in this episode is really strong. The movement of the story, and how it leads to the crescendo of the ending, is really smart.
"Once Removed" (series four, episode three)
What it's about: It's moving day, and things couldn't get more stressful – or could they? This episode happens in chronologically-reversed segments that will keep you guessing the whole time! Who's in it: Emilia Fox, Monica Dolan, Nick Moran.
Why it's good: I love the way this episode is structured! It's also funny, shocking, and even quite emotional at times.
"The Bill" (series three, episode two)
What it's about: A group of mates go for a slap-up meal after a round of golf, but tempers escalate when the matter of paying the bill comes up. Who's in it: Philip Glenister, Jason Watkins, Ellie White.
Why it's good: This episode seems simple, but it's actually quite a journey! All of the cast have really amazing chemistry too.
"Diddle Diddle Dumpling" (series three, episode five)
What it's about: After finding a lost shoe in the street, a man becomes fixated on finding the owner. But there's more to his obsession than you may think. Who's in it: Keeley Hawes, Mathew Baynton, Rosa Strudwick.
Why it's good: A slightly more sombre and heartbreaking storyline, this episode with keep you guessing right up until the end!
"The Devil of Christmas" (series three, episode one)
What it's about: Austria, Krampusnacht, December 1977. A director provides audio commentary on an old horror film of his set in an alpine chalet. The legend of Krampus hangs over the story – but is he actually real? Who's in it: Jessica Raine, Rula Lenska, Derek Jacobi.
Why it's good: I think this is a really intelligent use of director's commentary, and the time and place setting totally add to the brilliance of the whole episode.
"Nana's Party" (series two, episode five)
What it's about: At their mother's 79th birthday party, two sisters and their respective families try to put their differences aside and celebrate, but events take an unexpected turn.
Who's in it: Claire Skinner, Lorraine Ashbourne, Eve Austin.
Why it's good: The plot is super relatable and the characters really work in this story of families at war.
"Private View" (series three, episode six)
What it's about: A group of charismatic strangers are gathered together for a private exhibition at an art gallery, but no one knows exactly why they were invited. Who's in it: Fiona Shaw, Felicity Kendal, Peter Kay.
Why it's good: This is a really original episode that will keep you in suspense the whole time. Plus, there are some amazing talent in the cast!
"The Harrowing" (series one, episode six)
What it's about: This is probably the scariest episode of Inside No. 9, in which a young girl is hired to house-sit for a pair of local eccentrics for an evening. Their one rule? Don't go upstairs. Who's in it: Helen McCrory, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Poppy Rush.
Why it's good: This is such a compelling ep that really plays on the old haunted house cliché, without being hackneyed or predictable. Plus, Helen and Reece make an amazing creepy double act!
"Last Gasp" (series one, episode four)
What it's about: After a famous pop star dies unexpectedly whilst visiting a sick young girl at home, the enterprising adults begin squabbling over a balloon that contains his dying breath. Who's in it: Tamsin Greig, Adam Deacon, Sophie Thompson.
Why it's good: It's just really clever and super funny! The whole cast work so well together, and you totally get sucked into the story.
"Sardines" (series one, episode one)
What it's about: In the inaugural episode of Inside No. 9, a well-to-do family play a game of sardines during a weekend at their rural country mansion. It's all good fun until the game leads to a rather sinister discovery. Who's in it: Katherine Parkinson, Anne Reid, Timothy West.
Why it's good: I love this episode because it's super simple and it really captures the spirit of Inside No. 9 – they lull you in and then rip the carpet from underneath you!
"To Have and to Hold" (series four, episode four)
What it's about: Adrian has been married to Harriet for quite some time, but when his career as a wedding photographer starts to really get in the way of their daily lives, Harriet resolves to find out why Adrian has been so distant. Who's in it: Nicola Walker, Miranda Hennessy, Tom Mulheron.
Why it's good: This one has a rather disturbing twist which totally uproots the first twenty minutes of the episode. I highly recommend watching – it's masterful storytelling.
"Zanzibar" (series four, episode one)
What it's about: A group of unwitting guests are thrown into some super farcical interactions with one another after they are all booked onto the ninth floor of London's Zanzibar hotel. Who's in it: Rory Kinnear, Kevin Eldon, Jaygann Ayeh.
Why it's good: This quirky episode is played entirely in iambic pentameter, à la Shakespeare, and features an ensemble cast that really compliment each other.
"Tom and Gerri" (series one, episode three)
What it's about: A teacher enters a downward spiral after he befriends a mysterious homeless man from the streets. Who's in it: Gemma Arterton, Conleth Hill.
Why it's good: I love this episode because it really buries the lede, and lulls you into to believing one thing over another. It's classic Inside No. 9 and definitely a firm favourite of mine – and not just because I LOVE Gemma!
"Cold Comfort" (series two, episode four)
What it's about: Andy begins working for a helpline which offers support for people with all manner of personal problems. After he becomes the target of an imaginative stalker, Andy finds the job begins to consume him. Who's in it: Jane Horrocks, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Tony Way.
Why it's good: This was the first ever Inside No. 9 episode I watched, and I was completely hooked thereafter. The static place setting adds to the tension of the storyline, which is at times unbearable – in a good way!
"The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge" (series two, episode three)
What it's about: We are thrust back into the seventeenth century, where two big-time witch hunters come to the unassuming village of Little Happens to try an old woman accused of devilry. Who's in it: Ruth Sheen, David Warner, Sinead Matthews.
Why it's good: I love this one! It's the period setting, the cast of comical characters, and the witchy vibes for me. A stand-out favourite for its indelible twist, this episode also has a hilarious script!
"The 12 Days of Christine" (series two, episode two)
What it's about: After Christine brings back a handsome stranger from a costume party, she finds her life begins to unravel around her. Unable to stop being haunted by apparitions, Christine finds her happiness slowly turns to sorrow. Who's in it: Sheridan Smith, Tom Riley, Paul Copley.
Why it's good: This is my number one pick because it's really just a beautiful story. The best Inside No. 9 episodes kind of read like short films, and this instalment – with its amazing performances, haunting imagery, and intelligent script – is probably the finest example of this. This is 10/10 television, people!
Do you agree with my ranking? Tell us in the comments!
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