TV Review: Inside No. 9 – The Devil of Christmas


“They film Doctors in much the same way nowadays”

Just a quickie for this as I’ve never actually watched Inside No. 9 before, but enough people were making positive noises about its festive episode The Devil of Christmas that I found it hard to resist giving it a try, especially as it had Jessica Raine in the cast. And not knowing what to expect only added to the fun of a piece of television that revelled in wrong-footing its audience again and again.

Opening as a pastiche of 1970s Play for Todays as an English family arrive in an Austrian chalet for a skiing holiday, all plummy accents and stilted camera moves, the first rug pull comes with the arrival of a director’s commentary over the top, arch remembrances and bloopers pointed out in real-time. And as the folktale horror of the story kicks in, based around the legend of Krampus, actual horror replaces it, more than once.

I don’t think I’ve seen a review that hasn’t just spoiled the plot wholesale – I won’t be following suit. Suffice to say that Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s writing was brilliantly layered and very amusing, and along with Graeme Harper’s direction, stuffed full of Acorn Antique-y details of fluffed lines and continuity errors. 

Both writers also starred in the piece, along with the genius casting of Rula Lenska, a veteran of Play for Today first time round and very archly funny. Raine continues to prove herself a consummate actor of real intelligence and Derek Jacobi was great value for money as the director, full of drily scathing remarks and unexpectedly dark right to the end. A neat counterpoint to your usual festive programming, and I might well track down the earlier episodes in advance of the third series starting in the new year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *