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Inside No 9 – Reece Shearsmith: 'If Steve and I both laugh it stays'

Reece Shearsmith Inside No 9
(Image credit: BBC/Sophie Mutevelian)

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton on the return of Inside No 9 tonight on BBC2…

It’s been a great time for fans of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. Not only did the brilliant duo recently resurrect The League of Gentlemen with Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson, they’re now releasing another chapter of their BBC2 series Inside No.9, which starts tonight at 10.00pm

That means six more standalone stories to keep us hooked, featuring the usual eclectic mix of characters – from a disgruntled 1980s comedy double act to a down-on-his-luck wedding photographer.

The most impressive feat of this year’s series has to be writing an entire script in Shakespearean iambic pentameter for the opening episode, a farce starring Rory Kinnear as two twins and set in a hotel corridor on the ninth floor.

“Because there are lots of coincidences and cases of mistaken identity, it just came to us to use Shakespearean language,” said Steve.

“It was very difficult to write, but it gave the piece its own rhythm and brought it to life.”

Inside No 9 – Reece Shearsmith: 'If Steve and I both laugh it stays'

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The new series also features the show’s first ever two-hander. “I wanted to do one with just me and Steve,” said Reece, who has worked with Steve for three decades.

“It’s about a double act who have been apart for many years and they’ve been asked to come back together to do their act.

“Their style is very much not our kind of comedy, but it’s actually the funniest thing we’ve ever done. For the first time ever we were laughing on set – this is what we should have been doing for the past 30 years!”

Pemberton and Shearsmith spend most days together, either finishing scripts or filming.

“The brilliant thing about having worked together for so long is that there’s never any anxiety about saying what you think, no embarrassment about suggesting an idea that might not fly. We just sit and talk,” said Steve.

“We’re over any vanity by now,” agreed Reece. “I try to make Steve laugh and if something makes us both laugh then it stays in. It’s more fun now than it was we’re more relaxed about it.”

With series one and two now available on Netflix, the series is gaining a loyal following around the world. Why do the writers think Inside No.9 has captured people’s imaginations?

“I think it’s the relentless invention,” said Reece. “Every week you get a new story and a new world and the beauty is you don’t have to commit to it. You’ll get a good little tale in half an hour. It’s like Tales of the Unexpected… or a bag of Revels.”