Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton managed to shock, confuse, terrify and thrill viewers on Sunday night with their incredible live special of Inside No 9.
The darkly comic anthology series has disturbed fans in the past, but they pulled out all the stops for the Halloween episode, tricking viewers into believing that the broadcast had been cancelled due to technical difficulties.
However, those who didn’t change channel following the first ‘sound interruption’ were in for a remarkably constructed tale of TV horror.
Oh no! I genuinely thought the sound had cocked up on inside no. 9 live, so I've gone to bed and am now reading that it was a part of it!! Ffs, got me there
— Catherine Gogerty (@catherine_hann) October 28, 2018
It turned out that the story that opened the episode – about a man finding a mysterious lost mobile phone in a graveyard – was a red herring.
Instead, the rest of the episode played out behind the scenes at Granada Studios in Manchester (where the episode was apparently being filmed), as an unknown presence picked off members of the cast and crew.
- Inside No 9’s Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and the cast reveal their real-life lodgings from hell
It all got hilariously – and occasionally frighteningly – meta from there, cutting to CCTV footage of the duo complaining about their technical difficulties, Shearsmith reacting live to viewers’ complaints on Twitter, all intercut with an episode of Most Haunted which revealed that the studio was built on a Victorian mass grave.
Are me and Steve Pemberton on BBC two now?
— Reece Shearsmith (@ReeceShearsmith) October 28, 2018
Fans took to Twitter to label the episode the “TV event of the year”, after many had initially aired their disappointment at the technical issues.
“Everything was linked!” Cameron Yarde Jr wrote on Twitter. “EVERYTHING!” They have been dropping threads randomly all week to tie up in this! I can’t put into words how clever this episode is.”
Everything was linked! EVERYTHING! They have been dropping threads randomly all week to tie up in this! I can't put into words how clever this episode is. But I can find an appropriate GIF! #InsideNo9LIVE #InsideNo9 pic.twitter.com/alRja6oqvQ
— Cameron Yarde Jnr (@CameronYardeJnr) October 28, 2018
“Tonight Inside No 9 created one of the greatest live TV events,” Harrison Taylor tweeted. “In an era of catch-up TV and streaming, what a way to treat live viewers – who are often the biggest and most dedicated fans.”
Tonight #InsideNo9LIVE created 1 of the greatest live TV events. In an era of catch up television & streaming, what a way to treat live viewers – who often are the biggest & most dedicated fans. https://t.co/G5QIcIYoFN
— Harrison Taylor (@Harrison_write) October 28, 2018
Elliot Gonzalez added: “Only Reece and Steve could have pulled that off. Incredibly meta. Knowing what perfectionists they are, I should have guessed. But that’s the beauty of their work, you never can.”
Only Reece and Steve could have pulled that off. Incredibly meta. Knowing what perfectionists they are, I should have guessed. But that’s the beauty of their work, you never can. #InsideNo9LIVE
— Elliot Gonzalez (@elliot_gonzalez) October 28, 2018
Broadcaster Danny Bakker said, “Nothing to touch the creators of this magic. Nothing. No one.”
#InsideNo9LIVE Stupendous, duplicitous, crazed and unnerving. Nothing to touch the creators of this magic. Nothing. Nothing. No one.
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) October 28, 2018
Producer Adam Tandy shared a photo of the – thankfully apparently still all alive – team behind the episode, including Shearsmith, Pemberton and guest star Stephanie Cole.
— Adam Tandy (@adamtandy) October 29, 2018
An average audience of just over 700,000 tuned in to the episode live on BBC2 – although with almost a million viewers at the start of the broadcast, it is clear a number of viewers turned off thinking the technical difficulties were genuine.
The episode is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer – although whether the experience can match the experience of watching live is another matter.
Check out more fan reactions below.
Well, that was brilliant. Clever bastards. Although my favourite bit was Reece bitching about being given a Halloween Special, but not on the actual night #InsideNo9
— Liz Buckley (@liz_buckley) October 28, 2018
If you missed that, you missed the TV event of the year. Incredible. #InsideNo9
— Toototabon? (@Shaunlappin) October 28, 2018
#InsideNo9LIVE Wow. Standing ovations forever. Bold and terrifying genius.
Well done to everyone involved in a proper TV event.
— Jim Howick (@JimHowick) October 28, 2018
Oh my God this is some Blair Witch shit right here. I actually can't watch. I'm terrified. Imagine watching a live broadcast go wrong and witnessing cast and crew dying. This is inspired. #InsideNo9LIVE
— Steven (@AlpineJoe33) October 28, 2018
This wins everything on TV this year. Amazing amazing amazing amazing.#InsideNo9LIVE
— Gemma (@thatgemmah) October 28, 2018