The 12 Days Of Christine, the second episode of series 2 of Inside No.9, starred Sheridan Smith in the titular role as a woman living in an apartment which was in severe need of updating from Sarah Beeny, and lived with Fung (Stacy Liu), her Chinese flatmate with not a lot to say, except when it’s about maths.
Having had a boyfriend, Adam (Tom Riley), for the past thirteen months, she was surprised to get a Valentine’s card from an ex, who she later finds out has died of leukaemia… so something’s not quite right. Additionally, she keeps hearing “Time To Say Goodbye” from Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, and not just from the CD which she’s put in the machine.
Elsewhere, while she’s on her own in the flat, someone’s throwing eggs about, splattering them all over the house and making a big mess in the kitchen… but it’s a nightmare, and she wakes up to find she’s married to Adam and expecting a child.
Reece Shearsmith kept popping popping up as a mysterious stranger, scaring her, before she fast-forwardis through to her baby being born, making her think he’s been taken…… with no sign of help from Liam Neeson.
This episode showed Christine zooming through her life – well, just the 12 days featured – sometimes with the recollection of only those days. And as she said, when flicking through a photo album of all these moments while surrounded by her family and friends – including long-gone Fung and her deceased father, it’s like her whole life is flashing before her eyes…
And then, in an instant, the whole thing came together – she awoke to find she’d been in a car crash. The stranger had stepped in front of her car, causing her to fatally swerve; the eggs were splattered inside her car because of the crash; and the radio was playing “Time To Say Goodbye”. But it didn’t stop there… With her ‘life’ now clearly no longer real, she was having to actually say goodbye to everyone she knew, including her young son, Jack.
With great support from Michele Dotrice (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em) and Paul Copley as her parents, plus Jessica Ellerby, this was a brilliantly clever episode. You’re wondering where it’s all going to go and then *BANG!* it hits you like a slap across the face. Everything fell into place and as well as Sheridan consolidating her position as a national treasure, Shearsmith and Pemberton – playing merely cameos in this episode – proved again what they’re capable of in the writing department. It’s very rare when a script can keep you guessing and then surprise you like this.
And I realised it was also the second time that Sheridan Smith has come off worst at the actions of Reece Shearsmith, following her being bumped off as his first wife in The Widower!
Watching this a second time, the programme was even stronger. As we approach the end of most days, you hear Christine’s heart beating while the warning sound of a car door being left open was heard pinging away. In the first scene, there was the flashing Christmas tree lights and then the fire engine alert noise as she entered the flat with Adam; and then in the tenth scene, on bonfire night, Christine accidentally kicked the cars off the ‘road’ on Jack’s toy road set. Naturally, the fireworks were like the after-effect of explosions of cars crashing. I know some of these were referenced in the eleventh day, just before the car crash was revealed, but that had slipped from my mind and I saw them again while watching it from the start.
And, of course, Jack was the Angel Gabriel watching over her.
The 12 Days Of Christine is available on the BBC iPlayer until May 2nd.
Inside No.9 continues next Thursday at 10pm on BBC2 with The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge, starring David Warner, Ruth Sheenand Paul Kaye.
Overall Score: 10/10
Director: Guillem Morales
Producer: Adam Tandy
Writers: Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton
Sound: Matthew Brace
Christine: Sheridan Smith
Adam: Tom Riley
Fung: Stacy Liu
Marion: Michele Dotrice
Stranger: Reece Shearsmith
Bobby: Steve Pemberton
Zara: Jessica Ellerby
Ernie: Paul Copley
Jack: Joel Little and Dexter Little
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.