Behind the scenes

Inside the Big Issue: The curtain comes down on TV game changer Inside No 9

In this week’s Big Issue, we go deep inside Inside No. 9, the smash TV comedy. On sale now from your local vendor!

Inside the Big Issue

The true scale and scope of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s achievement across nine series of Inside No. 9 may only become clear in the years and decades to come. Perhaps by the year 2099 they will be getting the full plaudits this marvellous, macabre, genre-melding anthology series truly deserves. 

When the ninth and final series closes next month, they will have written 55 episodes (and acted in most of them). Each one standing alone, beautifully crafted, smartly written and surprising. The series expanding the possibility of what a half-hour TV comedy can do. 

Shearsmith and Pemberton burn through ideas like they are going out of style. Ideas that many would try to turn into a career-defining long-running series are played out with precision in just 30 minutes. 

The pair are ruthless in maintaining their standards. But there have been standout classics. A Quiet Night In was superb silent slapstick. The 12 Days of Christine was a heartbreaking tale of love, life and loss – built around a stunning central performance from Sheridan Smith. Dead Line saw Shearsmith and Pemberton live and unleashed in a Halloween horrorshow, toying with and eventually tearing up all the rules of television, going one step beyond meta. And as for the Devil at Christmas, from 2016, well, we laughed, we cried, we squirmed, we screamed and we gasped at the final twist in this demonic tale. 

Along the way, the duo have been joined by a roll call of the best in the business. Each actor signing up confident in the knowledge that, in just five days of filming, they will create a little piece of TV magic.   

Shearsmith and Pemberton go back a long way. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of their debut stage performances alongside Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson as The League of Gentlemen. The comedy troupe transferred to television 25 years ago, for three series of off-kilter dark comedy and a clutch of specials. And, from Psychoville to Inside No. 9, it’s been one psychological comedy drama after another ever since.

They reflect on the end of their current chapter in this week’s Big Issue, taking us deep inside Inside No. 9. On sale now from your local vendor!

What else is in this week’s Big Issue?

Big Issue’s blueprint for change: join our campaign to end poverty for good

Big Issue Group (BIG) is calling on Britain’s next leader to fi nally end poverty for good. Our call comes in an open letter to current prime minister Rishi Sunak, the Labour Party’s Keir Starmer – the favourite to replace him – and other political leaders, laying out a blueprint for change for the next government to implement within its first year of office in order to dismantle poverty.

“The time has gone for a light-touch approach from any incoming government. Clear and real change is essential. Failure to act now will be catastrophic,” said Big Issue founder Lord John Bird

How we could quickly fall into a food crisis unless farmers are better protected

In March, farmers came together to drive their tractors past parliament in protest at the government’s lack of support for their industry. The disruption mirrors the actions of others across Europe, who have blockaded roads, dumped manure and burnt tyres in the centres of major cities from Paris to Berlin. We explore why the protests are happening.

Drama was off limits to Liz Carr as a child but the actor and activist shares how she eventually found acceptance in a Letter to My Younger Self

Illness gave her the toughest of starts, but the actor and activist found her calling after a lightbulb moment changed her life.

“It hurts me to [know] that my younger self didn’t see a future. I would love to tell her you’ll fall in love, have mates, travel the world and do a job people can only dream of. She wouldn’t have believed any of it.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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