PSCO Varney - The Stakeout (S05E06) - Inside No.9
PSCO Varney - The Stakeout (S05E06) - Inside No.9
“Laughter contorts the face and makes monkey of men”
Everybody’s favourite Puritanical brat, Mr Warren from The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge, in watercolour and inks
Neville Griffin - Misdirection (S05E04) - Inside No.9 Requested by @not-your-house-keeper-221b
Pouty lil garden gnome HATES Stomp! More at 11.
welcome to part 2 of britcom moments that live rent free in my head. the sequel that absolutely no one asked for but got anyway!
Urban Bedford - How Do You Plead? (S06E05) - Inside No.9
Inside No.9 + moments between characters.
Urban Bedford - How Do You Plead? (S06E05) - Inside No.9
Q: Where did the idea for the film come from?
I’ve had the idea for a long time. I was shooting documentary footage in the early 90’s and I’d read that Paul Verhoeven started his directing career by making films for the Dutch military. He’d get to shoot these huge battle scenes during troop manoeuvres so I started shooting living history re-enactments and eventually came across The Sealed Knot. They’re a re-enactment group centred around the English Civil War. I think it’s a very interesting and admirable thing – and I guess a very English thing - but it’s unique and keeps the history alive. English people tend to be quite anti-history or at least not very adept at dealing with the past and these people have found a way to do that which isn’t musty and academic. It's fun! I’ve always been interested in that time period and the idea that it was an attempt by the people to kill the King – or effectively kill God. It’s radical thought and lots of people were radicalised at that moment in history. It was also a time when “magic” became “science”, where paganism and Christianity were confused, so it felt like a rich kind of magical world where any possibility could happen.
Q: So how did this interest translate into the film A Field In England?
I shot a lot of footage of the Sealed Knot and even started writing a script based in that time period but never finished it – but the idea never went away. Laurie Rose, our cinematographer, had done a shoot at a historical village. We went down and took a look and it brought the whole idea back to life. With my first film Down Terrace we built the whole film around the house location because that was something we knew we could get. The village was the catalyst to start the Civil War script but when Amy Jump and I started to write it we realised we’d done the woods in Kill List so decided to move the location. I do a lot of travelling and a lot of looking out of train windows at fields. We started thinking about how two groups would fight in a very small space – something like Alan Clarke’s Contact for example. Again – a pragmatic decision that would work with our budget. Once we had the scenario we started researching the folklore and mythologies of the time and Amy wrote the script from that point.
Q: What’s the reason for the tableaus in the film?
The tableaus came out of looking at woodcuts that reflect that time period, obviously flat and two dimensional. It was a way to reference those but also a way of using a film language that wasn’t traditional. There’s nothing in the film that specifically dates it and no explanation of the world we’re in – so the tableaus help frame that.
Q: The field is a magical place. Time and space don’t have conventional meanings do they?
That’s part of the mushroom circle folk lore. Within it time moves at a different speed. The lore is that if you go into a circle it takes four men and a rope to pull you out and although you feel that weeks may have past – it could be minutes in real time.
Q: What happens in the tent?
Something appalling! It’s like Orwell’s Room 101 – Tent 101! Reece Shearsmith surprised us all when he emerged from the tent doing what he did. We were all horrified - for real! Reece has a very deep understanding of horror cinema and that scene is a great example of how he’s able to change into these characters. I always found characters like Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen very very scary but there’s echo’s of Lon Chaney in Phantom of the Opera in there for example. When we first watched the slomo shot back we realised that we were going to have to use it in one shot because to cut away spoiled it.
Q: You and DP Laurie Rose built lenses for the film?
I’d been intrigued by these cheap plastic lenses that were for sale on the internet. Because they’re so badly made they create a lot of artefacts, flares and misting that gives a really interesting – almost antique feel that really worked for the film. We shot with the RED EPIC camera too so there’s a constant shifting of quality throughout the film which felt like it reflected the constant shifting of the characters perspective after they’ve taken the mushrooms. We made other lenses from cheap children’s toys – gluing them together to see what would happen. There’s something about the “handmade” nature of the lenses that reflects the time period when obviously everything was hand made.
Q: Why shoot in black & white?
We started wanting to make a black and white film and in the most basic sense it fits the time period. It also shifted the emphasis to textures rather than colours which make the field and the grass for example work in a completely different way.
Q: Can you tell us about how the film was cast?
I’d worked with everyone apart from Reece Shearsmith, but I was a huge fan of his. We’d wanted Michael Smiley for O’Neil from very early on and he’d worked with Reece on John Landis’ Burke & Hare. He took Reece to see Down Terrace so we got to meet. He said he was interested in doing something so Amy wrote the part for him. Ryan Pope I knew from Ideal – a UK TV series that I directed. It has amazing casting and we’ve used a lot of people from that show over the films. Ben Crompton & Emma Fryer from Kill List for example were on it. Peter Ferdinando we’d met at Sundance where his film Tony was screening. It was such an amazing performance that we didn’t even realise the person we were talking too was the guy on screen! Richard Glover was of course in Sightseers so Amy & I had spent a lot of time watching his performance during the editing and Julian Barratt – well we asked and he said yes, which was a really nice surprise.
Q: One of the common themes in your films is mysticism and folklore. Where does that come from?
I don’t really know where it comes from. It wasn’t in the script of Down Terrace but I guess the music reflected that to an extent and the idea of the family line. In Kill list it made sense because that film came from nightmares I’d had as a kid. Sightseers again had elements in it. A Field In England is almost like an unofficial prequel to Kill List anyway. We started thinking of it in those terms. So the grass in the field and the straw masks of the cult in Kill List are linked together – and the unseen “master” character who’s controlling all the events behind the scenes in Field is a sort of mirror of The Client character in Kill List. I like the idea of continuity across the films but I think this is the end of that now.
Disclaimer: my opinions are not definitive but they are bloody good. There may be spoilers so read at your own risk. This is the final part of my pointless little project. You can see the first part here.
This is my mum’s favourite episode. I read about it being written in iambic pentameter and was initially worried that it would feel gimmicky, but it’s done so seamlessly it feels like you’re enjoying a modern Shakespeare play. It’s funny and lighthearted with some great references peppered around. The colour scheme of the set is so aesthetically pleasing and the directing was, in my opinion, impeccable.
2. Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room
I love seeing Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith acting opposite each other with such an intimate storyline. The ending is bittersweet and appears as another lovely examination of grief, but in a far less bleak way as it has been seen before. Among much more complex storytelling methods, this episode is more paired down and that is far from a criticism.
3. Once Removed
Now this is a clever one. The reverse chronology is a fascinating setup that is initially quite confusing but truly genius. Shoutout to Reece for playing an assassin that probably could have quit while he was ahead at some point. It’s also one of the most creative locations of the “No. 9″ as the final ten minute segment shows.
4. To Have and to Hold
I am probably the best audience member for Inside No. 9 as I do not think, I just let Steve and Reece drag me around with the stories and I try not to predict the endings. As a result, this episode hit me like a freight train. Initially, I felt like it was an episode that was moving fairly slowly and was simply a look at an unhappy marriage; I did not expect a Josef Fritzl situation. The marriage vows are a creative way to separate the scenes that lull you into a sense of security to begin with. Honestly, I can’t look at Pot Noodles in the same way.
5. And the Winner Is...
Okay. This is my least favourite episode of Inside No. 9. While it’s not necessarily a bad episode, it’s one I often find to be rather unremarkable. However, on the far more positive side, there are some great funny moments and Zoë Wanamaker is a particularly delightful presence.
6. Tempting Fate
And we are back on the comfortable praise train from the mild criticism carriage. My mum and I decided to actively look for the hare that is in the background of every episode during the first time watching Tempting Fate. Imagine how irritated we were. Mild bitterness at the hare placement aside, I think this episode is brilliant. It’s funny and clever and the setting of the flat truly feels like the home of a hoarder. There’s something genuinely sad about the setting: a council flat filled with miscellaneous crap (it must have been fun to dress that set). A final note is that the sound of the rat made my cat want to fight the TV.
Bonus: Dead Line
Watching this episode on BBC iPlayer does not make it hit as hard as seeing it live would have been, but it did not stop me falling for it hook, line and sinker. I am, to this day, completely furious with Steve and Reece for baffling the living shit out of me the first time I watched this episode. The whole thing is absolutely glorious and it’s always nice to see comedy veteran Stephanie Cole.
1. The Referee’s a Wanker
I do not understand football and nor do I care to, but I do enjoy this episode. First, I have to give credit to the costume department for making Mitch’s mascot outfit look like all animals and none at the exact same time. Then I would like it to be noted that I live for gay shit and, as a result, love this episode. I think this episode is one of the funniest with a nod to genuine issues of being openly queer in sport. Though somehow Reece Shearsmith seems to be playing the gayest character in the room, but more on that later.
2. Death Be Not Proud
There are two things I love: Psychoville and John Donne poetry. This episode has both of those things. It also has terrifying hoover placement, a dreadful pun about babies and bathwater and references to serial killers that I understood to a disturbing degree. Watching this episode with people who haven’t seen Psychoville is interesting: they understood it, but the sense of humour wasn’t to the taste of my dad who found it too dark at points. I, meanwhile, think the episode is fun and ridiculous. Extra points for the dance number.
3. Love’s Great Adventure
A blink-and-you-miss-it twist. I blinked and I missed it the first time but happily I’ve watched it another two times since the first so I now fully understand the plot. The use of the advent calendar is another clever visual choice, and Guillem Morales’ (a director I expressed my admiration for in the last post) choices in this episode feel ever so slight Ken Loach-esque. There’s a familiarity among the cast that makes them incredibly believable as a family. Simple and deeply effective.
Reece, your magic nerdiness is showing. The setup of the flashbacks early on really settle you into the style of the episode as a viewer and I think that Misdirection holds the record for the earliest Steve’s character has been killed off (and in quite a brutal way as well). The entire concept of the episode is a real winner and I could rant about the directing choices for hours - which my friends and family can attest to.
5. Thinking Out Loud
Do I have some dubious feelings on this episode due to the stereotypical portrayal of dissociative identity disorder? Yes. Do I feel that Maxine Peake’s character is completely justified in her crime? Absolutely. Steve directed this episode solo and an impressive job he made of it as well: making what is essentially a series of talking heads interesting is no mean feat. Shoutout to the character of Galen for making me jump so much; Inside No. 9 is not good for my blood pressure.
6. The Stakeout
At no point while watching this episode did I predict the twist. It felt so out of left field it took me a while to appreciate The Stakeout for what it was. Now, I appreciate the peppering of clues you get throughout and the dynamic between the characters. Bonus points if you caught what the name ‘Varney’ is a reference to before I did, which was about thirty seconds ago when I started writing this review.
WARNING - The reviews for this series will have excessive use of the words ‘fruity’ and ‘camp’. As a gay man, I feel confident in my assessment of characters as such.
1. Wuthering Heist
Right, when I first saw this episode I was right in the middle of studying Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and when writing an essay kept spelling ‘Heist’ instead of ‘Heights’ so I’m annoyed about that. Otherwise, I love this episode. It’s funny and it’s clever and it’s stacked to the gills with dreadful puns. Furthermore it begins the trend of series six: Reece Shearsmith exclusively plays the fruitiest characters in the room.
2. Simon Says
Somebody watched Stephen King’s Misery recently and it shows. I am absolutely terrified about the fact that Steve and Reece clearly did a lot of research into fandoms for this one, mostly for their sake. The whole episode had an uneasy sort of edge to it that was incredibly compelling. There are also some brilliantly framed shots in this one, all the sort of things that I find dead exciting. The character of Simon continues the fruity trend.
3. Lip Service
I think this episode might have actually given me whiplash. The twists in this one made me so happy and the atmosphere of the whole episode was so beautifully curated, it was the perfect sleazy hotel. I have to give Steve some serious credit for his performance which was both sympathetic and slightly unsettling at all the right moments; as well as a special mention to the moment with the phone call, in which Sian Clifford’s character gives voice to Felix’s wife. And though we don’t see much of him, the hotel manager appears as both untrustworthy and slightly camp.
4. Hurry Up and Wait
This one is interesting because I honestly thought I was going to be incredibly underwhelmed by the ending. Thankfully, I was not. This is the episode that made me the most uncomfortable of the whole series: it had a genuinely strange mood to the whole thing and that is not a criticism. By no means is this my favourite episode of the series, but I think it has it’s merit as a mystery perpetuates throughout that, as a viewer, you want to get to the bottom of. Bhavna Limbachia gave an excellent performance in what was really quite a small role but one that reminded us of the context of the situation.
5. How Do You Plead?
In this episode the lighting gets darker as it progresses, something I didn’t notice until I had to shut the curtains because I couldn’t see. It’s a little detail from Morales that is so satisfying. Every single aspect of this episode is what I love about Inside No. 9: it has comedy, mystery, intertextual references, and Reece playing the fruitiest of fruits. It is also worth noting I was completely right not to trust Steve playing a seemingly minor role.
6. Last Night of the Proms
I mean...I can’t work out what to say about this one. I don’t mind saying that I do not fully understand what was happening here. If I’m being honest, the few times I’ve watched this episode I’ve been distracted trying to repress memories of terrible family gatherings. Reece with a beard can absolutely get it. I think that might be all of my feelings.
(despite no one asking for it)
Reece Shearsmith in Inside No. 9: "Zanzibar"
Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith in Good Omens
Heheh I just realised, look how big this blazer is on Reece 😂 he looks like a Year 7!
INSIDE NO 9 x Literature (1/?)
The Tempest, 1984, Alone In Berlin, Dracula, 1984
What Inside No 9 character of Reece's would you ship me with?
Me watching all issues about Tokyo Olympics: