Inside No. 9's latest season came to an end last week – or did it? Fans of the BBC anthology series are speculating that creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith might have one final twist in store.
The show's eighth outing featured stories ranging from murderous online dating to East End gangsters and necromancy, and memorably sprung a surprise on viewers when one advertised episode was replaced with a very different instalment.
The phantom episode in question – Hold on Tight! – was supposedly set on a bus (a location fans have long called for) and even had its own synopsis teaser, preview photos and big-name guest star in Robin Askwith.
However, BBC Two viewers were instead treated to a 'new' quiz show hosted by Lee Mack called 3 by 3 – which of course turned out to be the actual Inside No. 9 episode, with the bus-based instalment just an elaborate ruse.
Well, fans' Insidey senses are tingling again, as despite the latest season being over, BBC Two still has the show lined up in the 10pm Thursday night time-slot this week.
The episode in question, Mr King, first aired in April 2022 and is the second episode of season 7. Naturally, some viewers were quick to speculate that there might be more to the unusual scheduling decision than meets the eye.
Promoting the repeat on Twitter, Pemberton wrote: "Hope you all enjoy the re-run of Mr King. This coming Thursday at 10pm if you’re not busy."
One fan said in response: "Hmmm 50th Episode of the series, the last weird ep was the 4th series which is half of 8 and the episode you’re showing is Series 7:2 - equals 9… Something tells me you are absolutely not doing a re run."
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"This is looking oddly suspicious? They never normally say anything about reruns," another theorised, while one viewer added: "After what you lads have pulled in the past, I'm not sure whether I trust you guys to not do something to this 'rerun' tbh XD"
Others were still desperately hoping the mythical bus episode might actually arrive in its place.
"If you’re not 'bus'-y. I think I know what’s going on here Steve," one user commented, as another reckoned: "It’s the bus episode because it’s late."
So, could there really be a secret new episode of Inside No. 9 this week?
Some hopeful fans have pointed to the fact that there were only five episodes aired this year, instead of the usual six that make up a season.
The same scheduling arrangement happened with season 3, where festive special The Devil of Christmas was the first in the run and the five remaining episodes were broadcast a few months later.
Back then, there was also a rogue repeat episode scheduled the week after the final episode of season 3 – and it was also the second instalment of the previous season (in this case, The 12 Days of Christine). So there is definitely precedent.
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That's not to mention the fact that the official DVD of Inside No.9 season 8 is out now, and there's no sign of any bonus episode.
But we certainly wouldn't put it past Pemberton and Shearsmith to have a trick up their sleeves, particularly with the next season set to be the show's last for the foreseeable future, so the only way to be sure is to tune in tomorrow night on BBC Two.
Either way, you're guaranteed a surprise. As one fan wrote in response to Pemberton's tweet: "To be fair the biggest twist would be an actual repeat of Mr King."
Inside No. 9 airs at 10pm on Thursday 1st June on BBC Two. Inside No. 9 season 8 is out now on DVD.
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