The Devil of Christmas is the first Christmas special for Inside No.9 and delivers a spoof of a 1977 seasonal programme, shot in 4:3, complete with intentional bad acting, there’s a camera coming into shot on purpose, continuity goofs, actors eating at a table who never actually dig in to any of the food, and while good boys and girls get gifts from you know who, the bad ones are terrorised by Krampus.
As such, bad things start happening, but how can they be stopped?
A few minutes in, there’s a change in style as not only are we watching a drama being filmed, but we’re also listening to director Dennis Fulcher (Derek Jacobi) seemingly recording an audio commentary with an unnamed person accompanying him, and I love how Fulcher refers to when early TV shows, including Doctor Who, were filmed with very few takes so errors would often crop up in the finished product. The reason was that film was very expensive so you couldn’t afford a lot of retakes, but here, he adds, “Unless someone bumps into the furniture, you would just carry on. They film Doctors in much the same way, even now.”, which made me burst out laughing.
With great additional guest cast members Rula Lenska and Jessica Raine, the way this mixture of cheesy drama and on-top narration plays out did start to feel like an idea that was enjoyable for half the episode’s duration before I grew tired of it, until a moment comes where everything clicks into place and I now feel that a second viewing will be more beneficial.
The Devil of Christmas is a worthy entry in the Inside No.9 canon, but I still think that the two best episodes we’ve seen so far are Series 1’s almost silent episode, A Quiet Night In with Denis Lawson and Oona Chaplin, and Series 2’s The 12 Days of Christine starring Sheridan Smith, but Series 3 will follow next year and after almost two years since a brand new episode, I can’t wait for it.
Director: Graeme Harper
Producer: Adam Tandy
Screenplay: Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton
Klaus: Reece Shearsmith
Celia: Rula Lenska
Kathy Devonshire: Jessica Raine
Julian Devonshire: Steve Pemberton
Toby: George Bedford
Dennis Fulcher: Derek Jacobi
Interviewer: Cavan Clerkin
Young Dennis: Naz Osmanoglu
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.