Dead Line is a one-off Inside No.9 special for Halloween 2018, as Arthur Flitwick (Steve Pemberton) found a mobile phone in the graveyard and wanted to reunite it with its owner once a friend of theirs, Moira O’Keefe (Stephanie Cole), called up.
NOTE: Beyond this, I will mention a number of elements of the episode so EXPECT SPOILERS! And if you haven’t seen it, then stop reading, and get to the BBC iPlayer.
The billing stated “But some mysteries are best left unsolved and as Halloween draws near Arthur is plunged into a nightmare of his own making. It seems that no good deed can go unpunished, in this world or the next.”
As this episode began, it certainly didn’t feel like it was live – in terms of how well the cast are performing, as well as the microwave egg stunt…
Well, apart from when someone didn’t switch the microphones on for scene 2. Oh dear… but hey, that’s live TV for you!
At least, no-one appears to have told Messrs Pemberton nor Shearsmith through their earpieces, so they didn’t get thrown off course, since otherwise… And then it went again… Fuck…
Then the announcer came on while an apology caption was shown, and I was thinking…
Oh well, Inside No.9‘s Live episode had major sound issues as the audio kept dropping out, and then after a couple of attempts, they went with a repeat of Series 1’s A Quiet Night In, instead… which then had the audio slow down, flipped the picture upside down and then flipped back to an apology caption as well, and then the picture jumped back to the studio with no-one in it, but after that, it became apparent that this was all part of the episode!
Initially, I wished there’d been a preview available for this, as I kinda hoped that while the episode was, indeed, broadcast live, that an earlier rehearsal had been recorded (which actually gets a mention at one point, albeit being said to have been shot on the afternoon of the broadcast). I felt initially, that of course, things can change between the two, but whenever I can see an episode prior to broadcast, it makes things so much easier for writing the review, even if said review can’t be posted online until after it has been broadcast, such is sometimes the embargo procedure.
But… given how this entire episode has turned out, I’m glad I’ve watched it live along with everyone else about what a fucking piece of genius it is.
Reece doesn’t realise BBC Three has stopped broadcasting on TV because “I have no interest in television”, and to Stephanie Cole, “I bet you don’t get this on Still Open All Hours, do you?”
There’s even a clip of the pair’s recent The One Show interview, which is shown below.
I was well and truly taken in the twist and kudos to everyone involved for a brilliant half-hour of television.
It feels all too long since we had Inside No.9 on the box, but Series 4 was shown at the start of 2018 and we’re getting one series a year, so that’s great going, and I can’t wait for next year’s series, along with a Christmas Special. After the episode, the announcer did say that it “returns next year”, but I still hope for a Christmas Special. Still, if we don’t get one and that tonight’s episode is in lieu of that, then they still deserve immense accolades for this episode.
Dead Line is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after broadcast.
Also available to buy:
- Series 3 on Blu-ray
- Series 3 on DVD
- Series 1 on Blu-ray
- Series 2 on Blu-ray
- Series 1 and 2 on DVD together
(Click on the image for the full-size version)
Director: Barbara Wiltshire
Series Producer: Adam Tandy
Producer: Claire McCarthy
Executive Producer: Jon Plowman
Writers: Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton
Arthur Flitwick: Steve Pemberton
Reverend Neil: Reece Shearsmith
Moira O’Keefe: Stephanie Cole
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.