TV: Inside No. 9, Curse of the Ninth, BBC Two

TV: Inside No. 9, Curse of the Ninth, BBC Two

After a number of contemporary episodes in this series and one with a futuristic dystopian vibe, Curse of the Ninth is more of a period piece, based around the idea – dunno if true or not – that great composers had a habit of snuffing it after completing their ninth work. If it is a 'true' myth then it's ideal for this classic show, which is about to snuff it too after the final episode of their ninth series next week.

We are back in Edwardian times in a grand house where piano tuner Jonah (Reece Shearsmith) has been called in. The lady of the house, Lillian (Natalie Dormer) is the widow of a composer who blew his brains out after completing his ninth work. Or did he? Eddie Marsan plays the mad-haired musician Nathaniel - it's a bit of an underwritten part, I'd have loved Marsan to have had more screentime and some decent dialogue.

The mood is suitably sinister though, with familiar lawyer Dickie (Steve Pemberton) looming large over proceedings and maid Devonshire (Hayley Squires) getting involved too. There's a bit of an air of an old ghost story here, maybe a gothic MR James influence. 

As ever, to say too much would scupper the fun of watching the drama play out. But the tone is very different to other recent episodes. There are comic lines – getting Devonshire's name wrong for example – and also some shocks, even jump scares. Don't bother trying the second guess what happens. You won't get it right.

What Curse of the Ninth does show is that Shearsmith and Pemberton are never short on ambition and even after all this time still prepared to try something different and never coast. It's great to see them onscreen together in this one and it sets us up nicely for next week's grand finale. Very little has been revealed about that but beyond the joke has learned that the last episode is called Plodding On and it will be a two-hander featuring, fittingly, just the two creators. 

Inside No. 9, Curse of the Ninth, BBC Two, Wednesday June 5, 10pm.

People: Lillian (NATALIE DORMER), Jonah (REECE SHEARSMITH), Devonshire (HAYLEY SQUIRES), Dickie (STEVE PEMBERTON)Credit: BBC Studios/James Stack


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