Forget the turkey dinner and Christmas pud. The genius of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton is enough to leave you salivating this Christmas. The festive special for their darkly humorous Inside No.9 series is a cracker of a show. Entitled ‘The Devil of Christmas’, it is a note-perfect pastiche of ’70s television, with a fairly standard ghost story to boot. There is nothing standard about Shearsmith and Pemberton’s approach however. Using multiple 16mm cameras to film, and the inclusion of delayed scene starts and fluffed lines, brings an authenticity that could see it mistaken for an episode of the ATV soap Crossroads. Call the Midwife‘s Jessica Raine is perfectly cast alongside Pemberton, playing a couple whose received pronunciation was straight out of the Reithian guide to acting. They have come on holiday to a ski lodge with their mother (played by Rula Lenska) and son Toby. But their jolly outing doesn’t last long as the caretaker (expertly played by Shearsmith) tells the story of how the “Krampus” (the “devil” of the title) comes to take bad children away in the night. What follows is a plot with more twists than a candy cane, and which builds suspense with the aid of screeching violins. It is a complete hoot, with the voice of Derek Jacobi providing a “Director’s Commentary” that compliments the action on screen brilliantly. All these ingredients mix together perfectly to make an incredibly satisfying cake. Yet it is the icing on the top, the most unexpected final scenes, that truly make this a quality piece of television. I would even go as far as to say it’s the best episode yet. Deliciously scrumptious, it will certainly leave you wanting another slice.
Featured Image (C) BBC