Steve Pemberton

Steve Pemberton

Date of birth: 01-09-1967

Inside No 9: Last Night Of The Proms

TV review by Steve Bennett

This series of Inside No 9 ends with probably its weakest link, even though it’s always fascinating to see what Steve Pemberton and  Reece Shearsmith come up with.

This one has a distinctly Mike Leigh vibe as a family gather for their regular party to celebrate Last Night Of The Proms – and tensions soon become unbearable.

Given the jingoism and the backlash that has come to surround the flag-waving celebration each year, it’s no surprise that he biggest fault line is, Brexit-based

Inside No 9 is known for its twists, and the biggest surprise here is that the Remainers are shown in as bad light a light as Leavers - from the BBC comedy department, as well!

The ruddy-faced Middle Englanders represented by Mick (Pemberton) in Union Jack waistcoat and much more besides is actually full of fun – as well he might, as this is his, patriotic right. In contrast, Shearsmith plays Remain-voting Brian, a stick-in-the-mud pedant despondent about the disrespectful approach to the music and what it’s come to represent. He rather wonderfully calls the night’s traditions ‘the Rocky Horror Show for retired schoolteachers’ .

He’s in a loveless marriage with the long-suffering Penny (Debra Gillet) who’s so desperate for human connection she takes quite the shine to the enigmatic hooded man she spots outside, giving the episode its requisite air of mystery. And how the family will react to the ‘invasion’ by a scruffy, foreign outsider, has obvious - perhaps a little too obvious - parallels with the immigration debate.

The family tensions are abrasively unpleasant, not always easy to watch, and there’s surprisingly little comic relief. Julian Glover as the elderly Ralph barking obscenities, which might cover it, is a bit of a tired old trick. Nor is the deliberately ambiguous, possibly religious, conclusion especially satisfactory.

However, the acting, as usual, is excellent, and the script packs plenty of story into its half hour without feeling rushed. But unlikes so many of the first-rate episodes, this weirder outing might not be one you’ll rush to rewatch.

• Inside No 9: Last Night Of The Proms is on BBC iPlayer.

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Published: 14 Jun 2021

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