TV: Inside No. 9 – Series 4, Episode 3, Once Removed, BBC2

Just as you, well I, might have been thinking that Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton were going soft in this series, along comes Once Removed like a punch in the gob.

This third instalment centres on the goings-on in a delightful country house where the owners are about to move. And we all know how stressful moving is don't we? We've probably all wanted to kill someone during the process.

The twist in the tale here – well, just one of the twists, is that the action loops backwards. Playing with narrative timelines is not a totally original idea. There was Pinter's Betrayal (spoofed by Seinfeld in The Betrayal), last year's movie Brakes and the rubbish BBC drama Rellik. But, naturally Shearsmith and Pemberton put their own inventive spin on it.

The writers/creator star and are joined by an excellent cast. Nick Moran plays a removal man, Emilia Fox the wife on the move, Monica Dolan the nervous neughbour, David Calder the elderly relative who thinks he is Andrew Lloyd Webber. Rufus Jones also gets a credit in a small cameo. Jim O'Hanlon directs.

It's dark (obvs), brutal and very funny and sustains the impeccable standard of the current series. I say punch in the gob. Bullet in the head might be more appropriate.

Tuesday, January 16, BBC2, 10pm. Catch up here.

Inside No. 9: To Have And To Hold.

Inside No. 9: Bernie Clifton's Dressing Room.

Inside No. 9: Zanzibar.

Inside No. 9: The All-Time Top Six Episodes.

Picture: BBC/Sophie Mutevelian

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