La Couchette, the first episode of series 2 of Inside No.9, wasn’t just looking at who lives at No.9, but more specifically, 9A, 9B and so on up until 9F, since it took place in the 2nd class compartment of a sleeper train going overnight from Paris to Bourg-St-Maurice.
Naturally, everyone wants a good night’s sleep, but if you’ve ever tried to sleep on one, or even in a YMCA hostel, you’ll know it’s eventually only possible once everyone has shut the hell up.
Already present is the stern Maxwell (Reece Shearsmith), tucked up in bed and in need of a long night’s sleep as he has an important job interview at the destination, when a German man, Jorg (Steve Pemberton) popped in, coughing and spluttering in an unsightly manner which would’ve woken up the entire train! Once he’d settled in a top bunk, enter not-so-happy couple Kath (Julie Hesmondhalgh) and Les (Mark Benton), en route to their daughter’s wedding – once they can kick drunked Jorg out of Kath’s bed once he’s got in there, in error, and eventually, backpackers Aussie Shona (Fortitude‘s Jessica Gunning) and posh Brit Hugo (Jack Whitehall, acting out of type(!)).
Shearsmith and Pemberton were, as usual, the best on display here, occasionally ranting at each other solely in German when they conversed; Jack Whitehall was his usual posh self and still out-acted by George Glaves as Yves, the dead man who rolled out of his bunk and onto the floor, causing consternation amongst the living six, as to whether they should stop the train – common sense would dictate that, but then they all had to be somewhere early doors and didn’t want a massive delay on their journey. Since Hugo had blown his chance for a metaphorical bunk-up with Shona, he had to ‘spoon’ with the corpse.
As for why he died? That was revealed nicely at the end – Maxwell had poisoned him… well, that job interview won’t result in him gaining employment if he has competition… but he was thwarted at the last minute when Jorg revealed it was *he* who was the other applicant! A nice twist, there.
There were also some nice little comic touches in La Couchette, such as Jorg rolling down and then coughing out the window, only for his spit to fly back in his face; and Kath slowly trying to open a zip-locked bag in front of Maxwell’s bed, only for him to retort at her to just get on with it so he can sleep.
La Couchette is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer until April 25th.
Inside No.9 continues next Thursday at 10pm on BBC2 with The 12 Days of Christine, starring Sheridan Smith and Michele Dotrice.
Overall Score: 7/10
Director: Guillem Morales
Producer: Adam Tandy
Writers: Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton
Sound: Matthew Brace
Maxwell: Reece Shearsmith
Jorg: Steve Pemberton
Kath: Julie Hesmondhalgh
Les: Mark Benton
Shona: Jessica Gunning
Hugo: Jack Whitehall
Yves: George Glaves
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.