TV: Inside No. 9 – The Stakeout, BBC2

TV: Inside No. 9 – Stakeout, BBC2

Damn, blast and bloody hell. It's the final episode of the fifth series of Inside No. 9. And I'm probably not the only person who thinks that this is the best series yet. And maybe the most talked about too.

Running the stats gives a flavour of Inside No. 9's latest triumphant run. I've written about every episode ever made – 31 including this one – on this website and two episodes in the current run, Thinking Out Loud and Love's Great Adventure, have had notched up more page impressions than any other episode. Fans will not be surprised to learn that the previous "league" leader was The Twelve Days Of Christine. FYI the Facebook fansite League of Psychos Inside No.9 is currently running their own poll for this series and Death Be Not Proud looks ike topping it by a mile.

And this has certainly been the most consistent series. Every episode has been totally different to the last and there has not been a dud among them. We've had, among others, gritty realism (Love's Great Adventure), magic (Misdirection) and, perhaps most brilliantly the Psychoville mash-up, Death Be Not Proud. Critics and previewers were only sent the first five minutes of this episode and when it went out it utterly pulled the rug from under everyone. 

Coming then, to the final episode, entitled The Stakeout...The only good thing about the series reaching its end is that I'll no longer have the weekly torment of writing about the episode without giving away any spoilers. Yet even when I don't I can't win. When I wrote about Thinking Out Loud I intentionally didn't even hint at the personality disorder horror in store and someone still tweeted that "FFS" I'd given away the plot. Hopefully when they watched it they realised I hadn't.

Unlike other recent episodes with high profile guests stars this final bow foregrounds Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton as two cops literally doing the graveyard shift - sitting in their car overnight in a cemetary. Shearsmith is newbie S/PC Varney, Pemberton is old hand PC Thompson who has recently lost his long-time police partner.

Let's not say too much then. The episode starts with a death, but we don't know how or what has happened. The script brilliantly toys with us, playing with the tropes of cop dramas and how things usually pan out. There's a real sense of claustrophia thanks to the taut dialogue and director Guillem Morales getting close in with the filming. You can almost smell Varney's curry when he takes the lid off his tupperware dish. 

After five very distinctive episodes the sixth episode is a truly great way to end a truly great series. And the good news is that there will be more to come from Shearsmith and Pemberton, with two further series already commissioned. I don't know about life after death but there will definitely be life after this Inside No. 9. 

Catch up on the whole series here.

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