Inside No. 9: A Perversely Humorous Retrospective – Series Six And Seven

Series Six

Well, this is it, the final stretch of Inside No. 9 and the last two series (so far). Originally airing between the 10th of May and the 14th of June 2021. I really have no idea what Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith have in store next. I did get a bit cocky before the previous series and thought I knew what to expect, but I was (happily) proven wrong. Time for me to get lost in some tales and really have no idea where this show is going to take me.

Wuthering Heist


Columbina (Gemma Whelan) is working with a rag-tag group to carry out a good old-fashioned heist. Teaming up with Arlo (Kevin Bishop), Pantalone (Paterson Joseph), Mario (Dino Kelly), Hortensia (Rosa Robson), The Doctor (Steve Pemberton) and Scaramouche (Reece Shearsmith). Meeting in a warehouse so that they can go over their plan to steal some diamonds. The heist then takes place (off-screen) and we get to see the aftermath, in a kind of a Reservoir Dogs homage (see the poster).

Okay, I may have just compared this one to Reservoir Dogs, but it is also absolutely nothing like it. Yeah, it features a warehouse, a heist gone wrong and so on and that is all very Reservoir Dogs. However, the style and tone here are something very different. I had no idea exactly what Pemberton and Shearsmith were doing with this one. I knew they were celebrating a style, I just had no idea what it was. I had to do a little research and this episode is done in the style of Commedia dell’arte, an older Italian comedy where the actors all wear masks that denote the characteristics of the role they are playing, usually stock and social stereotypes. Yup, this one is an out-and-out comedy. A style of comedy that I was not aware of before and I admit, was completely lost on me. I really didn’t like this one on my first viewing, but it grew on me with subsequent views. Characters break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, they are fully aware that they are in an episode of Inside No. 9, they make really bad jokes, puns and more. There are some genuinely funny references and jabs at critics and even us the viewer. The structure and style of this one really did grow on me with multiple viewings. It’s a good slice of utter silliness, crafted perfectly.

Simon Says

Spencer (Steve Pemberton) is the writer of a massively popular fantasy TV show called The Ninth Circle. The finale to the show was somewhat ‘underwhelming’, according to the fans. One such fan, Simon (Reece Shearsmith) feels that the show could and should come back to put right what the finale did wrong. Simon turns up at Spencer’s place after witnessing him push an overbearing fan over, which Simon caught on video. That fan died after hitting the floor and Simon uses that to blackmail Spencer into letting him co-write a new finale and one, that he is sure, that the fans will enjoy.


It is quite clear that this is an episode that uses the whole finale and fan backlash of Game of Thrones as its diving board. An episode that explores the whole idea of writing a TV show and one that is squarely aimed at toxic/annoying fan culture. As well as (I’m sure) more than a few subtle digs at ‘certain’ fans of Inside No. 9 itself, who think that they can tell Pemberton and Shearsmith how to do their job. I just need to go over this whole retrospective before I publish it and make sure I don’t appear in a future episode. Simon Says is (yet again) another brilliantly observed and written episode. It is also one that I really didn’t want to try and second guess, I was enjoying all the sly digs at fan culture too much. I just sat back and let this one wash over me and lead me to an ending that put a big ‘ole smile on my face. ‘Nuff said.

Lip Service

Felix (Steve Pemberton) checks into a low-budget hotel room, where he is often pestered by the nosey hotel manager, Eric (Reece Shearsmith). With Eric seemingly out of the way, Iris (Sian Clifford) arrives at the room. Iris is a professional lip reader that Felix has hired to spy on his ex-wife, who is meeting a mystery man over the road from the hotel. Felix wants his wife back and needs to know who this mystery man is and if they are seeing each other or not. What follows is a story that has more twists in it than Chubby Checker had in 1961.

This is one of those episodes that you really need to watch more than once. It is packed with clever lines, double meanings and hidden clues. There’s a brilliant scene where Felix is talking to his wife on the phone while Iris lipreads, so we can hear both sides of the conversation and still stick with Inside No. 9’s rule of staying in one location. It also leads into some classic gags. Yup, this episode has some good comedy in it but don’t let that fool you, this a dark tale and one that packs a hell of an ending. It also seems to merge about four or five different story genres into just under 30 minutes. What could be seen as a mess of storytelling is handled very well indeed.

Hurry Up and Wait

A new crime drama covering the real-life (within the Inside No. 9 universe, not ours) disappearance and supposed murder of baby Ryan is being filmed on location of where Ryan went missing 20 years ago. James (Reece Shearsmith) is a bit player with a small role in the said crime drama. He is taken to the green room while he waits for his one and only scene to be filmed. The green room just so happens to be a lived-in caravan that is still being used by the family who owns it, while doubling up as a green room for the show’s production team. James sits on the couch and practises his lines, when he is interrupted by the daughter of the family, Bev (Donna Preston). Bev is celebrating a birthday and she is very ‘socially awkward’. After a while, James pieces together numerous clues that led him to the conclusion that Bev is actually baby Ryan and that the mother and father of the family kidnapped Ryan and raised him as their daughter. However, James is having trouble getting people to listen to him and what he has discovered.


You know, if someone were to ask me what sums up Inside No. 9 as a show, I would tell them to watch this episode. It blends reality and fiction by having Adrian Dunbar (famous for playing Ted Hastings from the criticality acclaimed Line of Duty) playing himself. The in-episode ‘factual’ crime drama about baby Ryan is written by Jeff Pope, who is a real TV screenwriter too. This one has comedy in it and satirises acting and TV show productions, Adrian Dunbar slowly stealing James’ lines is hilarious. Then, it also has a really fucking bleak and disturbing ending. This is exactly what Inside No. 9 is all about, leading you down the garden path and slamming the gate on you. Steve Pemberton plays Stan, the father of the family and he really gives off some disturbing Fred West vibes too. There is definitely something wrong with this family and they are hiding a secret. As James goes from a small bit player as a police officer in a crime drama, to full-on detective and works out the clues, you are really on his side and want him to bring this disturbing family down.

How Do You Plead?

Mr Webster (Derek Jacobi) is a massively successful but ageing, ill and dying ex-barrister. He is bedridden, hooked up to all sorts of medical equipment and his diet mainly consists of pills and more pills. Urban (Reece Shearsmith) is his nurse and tends to the soon-to-expire Webster as and when he is summoned. The two partake in a little roleplaying of a court case before the reason behind Webster’s staggering success as a barrister is revealed.

I believe that this episode makes Derek Jacobi the only actor to be in more than one episode of Inside No. 9 (discounting Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, of course). Jacobi voiced the director in The Devil of Christmas episode from series three, though you only heard his voice and never saw him. Anyway, this episode is a cracker and I had no idea where it was going until it was too late. Paring the hardnosed and cutthroat character of Webster against the much more angelic-like Urban makes for a good chalk-and-cheese dynamic. Just who is playing who here though?

Last Night of the Proms


A family gather to watch Last Night of the Proms on the TV. There’s Mick (Steve Pemberton) and his wife Dawn (Sarah Parish). Brian (Reece Shearsmith), his wife Penny (Debra Gillett) and their utterly bored teenage son Oliver (Jack Wolfe). Oh, and let’s not forget Ralph (Julian Glover) as the dementia-suffering  and Tourette’s swearing father of Dawn and Penny. In the midst of all the rousing classical music merriment comes Yusuf (Bamshad Abedi-Amin), a strange man who has seemingly wandered in from a local immigration detention centre, or has he?

I don’t think there has been an outright bad episode of Inside No. 9 so far, but there have been some weaker ones. This is one of those. As far as I can tell, the Last Night of the Proms episode has a bit of a political/Brexit agenda and some not-very-subtle symbolism. I am avoiding spoilers for this retrospective but when a bloody dead body gets wrapped up in the Union Flag, all while Jerusalem plays, I just felt that perhaps Pemberton and Shearsmith were being a tad too conspicuous, maybe that was the point? Aside from some really great performances, with Sarah Parish being a major highlight. This was a bit of a weak end to the series that began in such a crazy but funny fashion and with some very enjoyable episodes along the way. But I tell you something, I’ll never listen to The Sailor’s Hornpipe the same way again.

Series Seven

I’ve made it, I’m now at the end of this retrospective and the last series of Inside No. 9, for the time being anyway. Aired between the 20th of April and the 1st of June 2022. I am hoping for a complete mind-fuck and so much rug pulling that I’ll need corrective surgery on my arse cheeks. I want to see some bleak storytelling, humorous dialogue and yeah, some endings that make me worried about the frame of mind that Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith are in. Let’s get cracking.

Merrily, Merrily

Three old university friends meet up for a reunion. Organised by Laurence (Reece Shearsmith), he invites Darren (Steve Pemberton) and Callum (Mark Gatiss) to a ‘party on a boat’. The boat turns out to be a pedalo, which the friends take out and across a lake. However and due to a misunderstanding with the invite, Darren turns up with his uninvited girlfriend Donna (Diane Morgan). That is when Laurence’s plans are thrown into disarray and it is revealed that the party never even existed and just what Laurence planned was is revealed.


Taking Inside No. 9’s rule of setting the story in one location, this episode is about as claustrophobic as you can get, all while still being out in the open. The four characters are stuck on the pedalo on the lake as tales from the past and present are told. With some great writing and the suggestion that Laurence’s party isn’t quite what it seems. We learn more about what these friends have been up to and how their lives have changed. Pemberton’s Darren character is brilliantly realised and his misunderstanding of the invite (and what a pedalo is) becomes all too clear with a great reveal. I have to admit that this episode led me down the garden path. I had a feeling that it was heading in one direction, only for it to deliver a resolve that is unexpected and bitter-sweet. A great opener for the series.

Mr King


Mr Curtis (Reece Shearsmith) is the new teacher at a small rural school in Wales, overseen by the headmaster Mr Edwards (Steve Pemberton). Taking over from the previous teacher, Mr King. Mr Curtis loves teaching and tries all sorts of new teaching methods to get his pupils interested. However, Mr Curtis seems to be a bit too strict and his teaching style is vastly different to Mr King. One of Mr Curtis’ pupils makes an accusation against him and he has to try to clear his name. All while also trying to track down his predecessor, Mr King, to help him get a grasp of the kind of lessons that he was teaching the class.

This was one of those episodes that failed to fool me. If you have ever seen a certain British folk-horror film, then you will see the ending of this coming about 2 minutes into this episode. Still, that does not mean that there wasn’t a lot to enjoy here. This is another episode that is peppered with great humour, sharp dialogue and loads of clues. Mr King is one that really does warrant multiple viewings. Then there is the misdirection and you will go from rooting for Mr Curtis to really detesting him and more. Reece Shearsmith’s character is brilliantly realised and portrayed. Yeah, I may have correctly guessed the ending within a few minutes of the episode starting, but the journey to that ending was so damn enjoyable.

Nine Lives Kat

Katrina (Sophie Okonedo) is a tough detective working on a case involving a missing boy. She is also a bit of a cliché. A divorced single mother, alcohol problem and she struggles with a work/life balance. As the case begins to take over, Katrina struggles to keep a grip on her life, while she pours vodka on her cereal. This is when Ezra (Steve Pemberton) enters the story and he begins to clear things up… or make them so much worse.

I love writing, I love writing about writing and that is what this episode is all about. A very meta tale that explores character and storytelling in a very clever way. There’s some really bad and cheesy dialogue here, awful clichés everywhere, including a shitty jump scare with a cat. Just looking at this on the surface, this is the ‘worst’ written episode of Inside No. 9 yet… but it is supposed to be. It’s not like Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith completely dropped the ball here with the writing, quite the opposite in fact. The writing here is bad for a very good reason. The clichés are there to clue you into what is going on. This one is enjoyably bad and exceptionally wonderful at the same time.



Shane (Daniel Mays) and Clifford (Jason Isaacs) kidnap Lara (Daisy Haggard), the wife of wealthy hedge fund manager Dominic (Reece Shearsmith). The duo plan on holding Lara for a £1.3 million ransom and if her husband refuses to pay, well, it could get very bloody. It soon becomes clear that Clifford is the brains of the plan, while Shane is not. Oh, and Lara is actually in on the plan as she is having an affair with Clifford. Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler, this plot point is revealed before you get to the halfway point. When Dominic calls the police, headed up by DI Ellis (Steve Pemberton), that is when the careful plan begins to go awry.

This episode can be viewed in one of two ways. You can watch this as a really bad kidnap thriller, or you can see it as a fantastic parody and clever observation of a really bad kidnap thriller. I’m pretty sure that the latter is the aim. An episode that plays up the comedy factor and one that becomes a comedy of errors, crammed with stock characters and stilted dialogue. The ‘twist’ that Lara is in on the plan is not even the twist of the episode either as this has more than just the one surprise. This is another one of the very few episodes that breaks the ‘everything in one location’ rule too, but still keeps everything together. It uses split-screen to show the other characters and locations but all while still keeping things anchored. Basically, if Brian De Palma ever directed an episode of Inside No. 9, it would look like this. Kid/Nap is an episode that you are either going to ‘get’ and be on board with its gritty-silliness, or it’ll go completely over your head and you’ll misunderstand the point.

A Random Act of Kindness

Helen (Jessica Hynes) is a single mother living with her teenage son Zach (Noah Valentine). Their relationship is not at its best as they bicker and argue constantly. When a sparrow flies into Zach’s bedroom window, a strange man called Bob (Steve Pemberton) picks it up and asks for help from Helen to nurse it back to health. Bob and Zach strike up a relationship and the teenager gets some much-needed tuition from the stranger in terms of his education. But, is Bob going to drive a wedge between Zach and his mother or bring them closer together?


There really is a lot to cover with this episode, and the fact that I am actively avoiding spoilers makes this very hard to sum up. What starts out as a simple family drama evolves into something far more complex and intricate. The relationship between Bob and Zach is wonderfully explored and you get a nice physics lesson thrown in too. The plot here becomes multi-layered and much more complex, especially as it reaches its climax. This is an episode that really does display how great Pemberton and Shearsmith can be when armed with a word processor and an idea. Some razor-sharp writing and a story that is as deep as the Mariana Trench. What you get here is 28 minutes of TV that offers a story worthy of a feature film. The ending will leave you scratching your head trying to work out just who got a happy ending, or if anyone did. Still, as complex as the story gets, there’s a simple mother/son dynamic that is the driving force behind it all.

Wise Owl


Ronnie (Reece Shearsmith) is a man-child with an obviously troubled past. He grew up with the Wise Owl public information films that taught him not to talk to strangers, play with matches and the like. These films have left deep and lasting psychological scars that have carried over from boy to man, Ronnie is borderline suicidal. A phone call from his mother sparks off memories that drive Ronnie to kill off his inner demons before they kill him.

After the damp squib of an episode that was the end of series six, this is how you end a series. Fuck me, this was this dark and amazing at the same time. If you are from England and of a certain age (like me) then the public information films of the 70s and 80s are forever ingrained into your subconscious. Things like Donald Pleasence playing Death and trying to kill children at a pond, or watching a kid get electrocuted at a power station when trying to retrieve a football. These memories are decades old and yet, still as strong as they ever were. Then there is the king of all public information films, Charley Says. It is those Charley Says cartoons that serve as the basis for this episode. The story of Ronnie is intercut with Wise Owl animations that are clearly massively inspired by the Charley Says cartoons. This is an episode that left a deep impression on me, like the Wise Owl did on Ronnie. Twit-you!


Series six and seven have been great. I have sat here watching these episodes and expecting a drop in quality, but it never happened. Yeah sure, some episodes were better than others but I never found one I outright disliked. For me, this is a testament to Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s scribing. Even if an episode didn’t exactly work for me (Last Night of the Proms), I can still appreciate the work that went into it. From meta and fourth-wall-breaking tales to mind-melting and straight-up WTF ones. Inside No. 9 had still managed to surprise me, seven series in. I’m not bored yet, I want more.


For me, Inside No. 9 is an astonishing piece of TV. I’ve recently read that it has been renewed for two more series, which will take the total to 9… perfect. It’ll also leave me with two more series to cover and keep my format of this retrospective too, thanks fellas. I think that is where they should stop too. I don’t like it when a TV show outstays its welcome and I do think that Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith should quit while they are ahead, go out on a high and avoid scraping the bottom of the barrel. Still, the end of the show doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Inside No. 9, an anthology film could be amazing if the duo come up with any new ideas for stories after series nine. Just think of an Amicus-stylised portmanteau film version of Inside No. 9. Pemberton and Shearsmith could have a lot of fun with that.


Still, now I have sat through all seven series and forty-three episodes (multiple times) and I now realise how angry this show has made me. See, I like to write, I’ve penned a few short stories and even a novel. Putting together a compelling short story is far more difficult than a longer tale. You have far less time to build a story, evolve characters and so on. So, to create so many great short tales here with Inside No. 9 and make it look easy, really infuriates me. I adore this show, I think it is amazing. But it has also taught me that I have a long way to go as a writer myself.

Halloween Picks

Okay, so to finish this Halloween special of my look at the entirety of Inside No. 9, I’m going to pick some of the more horror-based/creepy episodes that I feel are worth a watch over Halloween. Not necessarily blood-soaked gore-fests, but episodes that I think are scary or disturbing (and more) and that would work great as a nice little Inside No. 9 Halloween-fest. There is no real reasoning to this list (other than chronologically via series), no best to worst, etc. Just my suggestion of episodes to watch if you want something with more of a horror vibe in the run-up to Halloween.


Let’s get things started with the Tom & Gerri episode. A great yarn and one that explores mental health with a dark twist. The Harrowing next, for the fact that this looks and feels like a classic gothic horror film. There’s a nice bit of black comedy in this one and it has some genuine scares too. I think it would be rather remiss of me if I didn’t put The 12 Days of Christine on this list of Halloween tales. A big fan-favourite and one that really is a showcase for Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s writing. Séance Time is well worth a watch if you want something with a wonderfully creepy atmosphere and a few laughs.

Quite simply, one of the most creative and clever episodes next with The Devil of Christmas. I have a particular adulation for this one because I grew up with and love the kind of TV shows that it is paying homage to. Plus, it’s just a really well told creepy tale. I have spoken about the quality of the writing several times already but with my next pick, I have to praise it more. The Riddle of the Sphinx is fucking genius. Not only do you get a great story, you also get an amazingly designed puzzle of an episode that you really do need to watch more than once. Diddle Diddle Dumpling amazed me for its basic plot of a man and a shoe, but it ended up utterly enthralling and disturbing me at the same time. And sweet baby Jebus, what an ending!


The finale of series three, Private View, was just delicious. There’s plenty of death and blood in this one, topped off with an interesting insight into modern art and a wicked sting in the tail. To Have and to Hold is one of those episodes that may not scream horror at you, but the story is still deeply disturbing. I just have to mention the Halloween live special that is Dead Line. Not one of my favourites, story-wise but it is just such an amazing piece of TV and brilliantly delivered. Death Be Not Proud works as a great twisted tale that is as bizarre as it is funny, as it is macabre. The Stakeout is an episode that starts out blood-soaked and tells you outright that one of the main characters is dead. What happens from then on seems pretty ordinary, but there’s a wonderful undercurrent of dread throughout.

I really do adore episodes that feel like they are going in one direction, only for them to lead you down the garden path and hit you with a dark ending, Hurry Up and Wait is one of those episodes. How Do You Plead? has a gothic, old-timey feel to it from the off. The story feels very grounded and leads to a hellish finale that both seemingly comes from nowhere and still feels very right. Mr King is an episode that (as I said in the retrospective) is dripping in the atmosphere of a certain British folk-horror flick. There were no surprises for me with this one, but I still really bloody enjoyed it. Nine Lives Kat because I do love it when writers explore writing. The cheesy dialogue and awful clichés are brilliantly placed for a good reason. Inside No. 9 has a bit of a reputation for going into some dark places, with the Wise Owl episode… fuck me! This is about as grim as the show has ever got (so far). The story is bleak the writing is jet-black depressing. Even when this show went to some horrific places, there was still some form of humour to be found. Not here, this is just dark and twisted from start to end. Okay, there is some really black humour here, if you enjoy laughing at baldy taxidermied rabbits.


Well, that’s all folks. My lengthy Inside No. 9 retrospective has reached its end. Well, until the last two series are made and aired anyway. All being well, I’ll be back to finish this in 2024.

Inside No. 9: A Perversely Humorous Retrospective – Series Four And Five

Series Four

This series was shown from the 2nd of January to the 6th of February 2018.  Well, I have to be honest, I have no idea what to expect with these next two series. I know that there will be twists and turns, I know there will be horror and dark humour and there could even be a bit of lightheartedness and a happy ending or two. I honestly don’t know what to expect, so I guess I had better expect any and everything when it comes to what goes on in Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s minds.


Prince Rico (Rory Kinnear) arrives at the hotel Zanzibar with his bodyguard Henry (Reece Shearsmith). After checking into his room, Henry reveals to us the audience that he plans on killing Prince Rico. Gus (also Rory Kinnear) checks into the hotel on the same floor (number 9) and is mistaken for Prince Rico and vice versa. Other residents on the same floor, including Robert (Steve Pemberton), end up getting mixed up in the mixing up of Prince Rico and Gus as a much more intertwining story is slowly revealed.


To be honest, this one doesn’t have that much of an interesting plot. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but the ultimate resolve is rather flat and very obvious. But what does lift this yarn is how it is played out and presented. The characters break the fourth wall and directly address us the viewer, and they do it via some very Shakespeare-esque delivery. All of the dialogue is told in the form of Iambic pentameter and it’s very rhythmic. I may not have enjoyed the story much and I’ve never been a fan of Shakespeare, but I do admire just how this one was crafted.

Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room


Somewhat popular in the 1980s, comedy double-act Tommy ‘Cheese’ (Reece Shearsmith) and Len ‘Crackers’ (Steve Pemberton) meet up for one final gig to try and reinvigorate the old double-act. They haven’t worked together for decades following a bitter falling out. Tommy has moved on from his comedy roots and become pretty successful in his life. Len’s life headed in a very different direction and he became a washed-up alcoholic. As they practise their old comedy routines, with a few updates for a modern audience, exactly what caused the rift between the two is brought to the surface.

This one was absolutely brilliant. I grew up in the 80s when the classic comedy double-act was regular viewing on TV. The likes of Cannon and Ball, Little and Large or Morecambe and Wise (to name a few) were ruling the airwaves. Light-hearted family comedy that everyone would tune into on a Saturday night and would pull in multiples of millions of viewers every week. The fictional Cheese and Crackers here existed as one of those popular double-acts within our reality. The nods and references to those well-remembered comedians of the day (and some long-forgotten ones) come thick and fast. The tale of what happened to Cheese and Crackers is as (outdatedly) funny as it is heartbreaking. This one plays out like pure perfection in short story form. Just what does Bernie Clifton’s (one of those long-forgotten British comedians) dressing room have to do with any of this? Well, quite a lot. The two characters played by Pemberton and Shearsmith are perfectly portrayed and they are the only two in this episode too (save for one minor role at the end). Yet, even with just the two characters, there’s a lot going on and a lot to take in. It all leads to an ending that certainly took me by surprise and one that had me feeling nostalgic for those Saturday nights growing up watching those comedy double-acts.

Once Removed

May (Monica Dolan) is moving house and she hires Spike (Nick Moran) to do all of the heavy lifting. When Viktor (Reece Shearsmith) makes an appearance, Spike soon learns that this house move is anything but ‘normal’. A dementia-suffering old man (David Calder) who thinks he is Andrew Lloyd Webber and the dead body of an estate agent (Steve Pemberton) in the toilet are just the start… or end of the crazy events and secrets that the house holds.


What you have here is not so much a whodunit? mystery. This is more like a whydunit? The whole episode plays out via reverse chronology. So, you start at the end and make your way to the beginning. After the opening errr, ending, the episode jumps back 10 minutes to cover the 10 minutes that explains just what happened to lead to the start (end) that you just watched. After which, it then goes back another 10 minutes to cover the events that led up to the previous 10 minutes. Then, to finally jump back to the last 10 minutes to cover the end (beginning) that explains everything that you need to know about the last 20 minutes that you just watched. The reverse chronology of this episode is pulled off very well indeed and this is one that you’ll want to re-watch to try and spot all the subtle clues, clever dialogue and acting that reveals more than you’ll first realise. A cracking episode that is just crying out for multiple viewings.

To Have and to Hold

Married couple Adrian (Steve Pemberton) and Harriet (Nicola Walker) are having some relationship issues. They are childless after 20 years and Harriet once had a ‘thing’ with one of her work colleagues. That is on top of the usual money worries and then there is the lack of sex. It’s a marriage that is sinking fast. Adrian seems to be the most boring person on the planet who spends most of his time in the basement where he has set up his own photography room. Here, he is struggling to run his business as he offers his experience as a photographer to take pictures of much happier couples on their big day.

Split into five acts that are based around the classic wedding vows of ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part’. This tale is seemingly very plain and uninteresting, until the Pot Noodles get involved. Steve Pemberton plays his character perfectly and he really does come across as a meek and cuckolded husband. While Nicola Walker as the overbearing and adulterous wife is quite horrible (in a good way) and she is great at it too. A simple suburban yarn about a borderline bullying wife and a husband who has all but given up and been rendered impotent. Then the twist hits you and suddenly, everything is put into perspective. This is a great episode, even if the ending feels a little rushed, it is still wonderfully satisfying.

And the Winner Is…

A group of TV insiders gather to vote on who should get the Best Actress award. Clive (Reece Shearsmith) is a screenwriter who is desperately looking at getting his latest screenplay turned into a TV show. Gordon (Noel Clarke) is a successful director that Clive keeps sucking up to in an attempt of getting his screenplay made into a TV show. Actors Rupert (Kenneth Cranham) and Paula (Zoë Wanamaker) are a little older, wiser, grumpier and really don’t feel like they want to be there. TV critic June (Fenella Woolgar) offers her not-so-well-observed opinions on who should win. Then there is Jackie (Phoebe Sparrow), the only non-insider of the lot. A random nobody brought in for a more ‘grounded’ view and opinion. The whole thing is chaired by Giles (Steve Pemberton). There are arguments, histories dragged up and much more as the voters just can not agree on who is the best actress or why.


I both liked and disliked this episode in equal measure. Honestly, it’s really not that interesting of a story in the grand scheme. But I loved the interactions between the characters and the acting is great. The little arguments and nitpicking really are entertaining. Then there are the (I think) intentional digs at the pointlessness and (perhaps) injustice of awards. The best actress is not really being judged on her acting per se. Points are raised like skin colour for the ‘diversity vote’, age, looks, have the nominees previously won and more. Acting ability seems to be something this is more of a thing that is nice to have over certain other factors. I did see the ending coming by about the halfway point, but I still enjoyed it as it was a nice satirical stab of a yarn.

Tempting Fate


Keith (Steve Pemberton), Nick (Reece Shearsmith) and Maz (Weruche Opia) are a trio of heavy-duty cleaning contractors, who are brought in to clean out a dingy abode. The flat belonged to mass-hoarder Frank (Nigel Planer) who ended up killing himself. Maz is the newest of the three and is still getting used to the job. Whereas, Keith and Nick are the old guard and take everything in their stride. While cleaning the flat, they learn that Frank was rich, that he had won over £3 million on the lottery and yet, he still lived in disgusting squalor in a small three-roomed hovel. When they discover a seemingly plain bronze hare ornament and a video message from Frank, this house clearance takes a turn for the very macabre.

What you have here is basically another take on the classic Monkey’s Paw tale. You know the one, someone comes across a mysterious monkey’s paw and they get three wishes that have dire consequences. There have to be several dozen different versions of this story by now, via films, TV and literature. Here, that ‘monkey’s paw’ is actually the bronze hare ornament that appears in every episode of Inside No. 9. Only, instead of being in the background of a shot, as usual, it is given a starring role and a history. Do you know what? I love a good take on the classic Monkey’s Paw tale and this is a great one. Obviously, knowing Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s writing here at the end of series four, I was trying to second-guess where this one was going. I admit, they got me. While it does follow the staples of a good Monkey’s Paw adaptation, Pemberton and Shearsmith put their own stamp on it and still manage to surprise. A good horror tale with a fantastic twist and a great end to the series.

Dead Line

Arthur (Steve Pemberton) comes home on Halloween after finding a mobile phone in a graveyard while out shopping. The phone rings, Arthur answers it and he can hear strange and ominous voices, but can’t quite understand what is being said. The call soon disconnects. Wanting to find the owner of the phone, Arthur redials the last number called and it is answered by Moira (Stephanie Cole), Arthur explains the situation and Moira agrees to contact the rightful owner of the phone for him. Later, Arthur gets a visit from the local Reverend (Reece Shearsmith) and that is when things begin to take a turn for the worst.


This episode wasn’t actually part of series four. This one was a one-off Halloween special that aired in 2018, several months after series four had concluded. What made it special was the fact that this was broadcast live, the first and only episode of Inside No. 9 to do so. What you get with this episode is both one of the best and most uninteresting episodes of the show so far. Now, I did say in the intro to this retrospective that I wasn’t going to do spoilers. For this episode, I really, really have to, so that I can better explain my view. I also said in the intro that I would be doing a separate spoiler-rific article for one particular episode. Well, this is that bit and the spoiler-rific article can be found right here. Massive spoilers lie within that link, you have been warned and will be warned again.

Series Five

Shown between the 3rd of February to the 9th of March 2020. You know, I honestly believe that I am getting the measure of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith by now. I believe that, after four series, I have their writing style down pat and will not be fooled so easily now. Still, I have just finished a series involving backwards chronology and a live episode that was utter genius on a technical and production level. I really shouldn’t feel so cocky and just accept that they are still going to get me.

The Referee’s a W***er


Martin (David Morrissey) is the referee for a major football match at the end of the season. Joined by his assistants Phil (Ralf Little), Oggy (Steve Pemberton) and Brendan (Reece Shearsmith), the officials are there to ensure that the match goes off without any issues. An incident during the match throws the game into utter chaos. When it is releveled that one of Martin’s assistants has taken a bribe to help fix the game, things begin to turn south fast. This is Martin’s last game before he retires and he has always been a stickler for the rules. Will he let the infraction slide or will he turn one of his assistants in and keep his clean sheet?

I have to be honest, my first viewing of this and I didn’t think much of it. But watching it a second and third time really opened my eyes as to how brilliantly written and layered this episode is. This one plays up for laughs, no creepy horror or jump scares here. Still, there is a great tale of morality and justice against the backdrop of a football dressing room. A line of dialogue (or several) that seems innocent really plays into the plot and characters when you know the ending. This is why more than one viewing of this one is essential. A simple game of football turns into complete disarray, a comedy of errors and the W***er of the title may not be the word that you think it is.

Death Be Not Proud

Beattie (Jenna Coleman) and Sam (Kadiff Kirwan) are a young couple who have just moved into a flat that they managed to buy at a fantastically reduced price. Like, £100,000 off the asking price, fantastic. Why so cheap? Because the flat used to belong to a killer and stories have been told that at least one person was killed there. When Sam tries to get in contact with the previous owner, to see if there is any truth in the tales of murder, things go surprisingly dark and morbid with a thick vein of very macabre humour when the previous owner turns up.


I didn’t know this when I first watched this episode, because I’ve not really been a fan of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s other works. But anyway, this episode is a (sort of) sequel/crossover with one of their previous shows, Psychoville. Pemberton plays David and Shearsmith plays his mother, Maureen, who were the main characters in that show. Not knowing anything about Psychoville didn’t ruin my enjoyment of this episode at all. If anything, it has made me want to watch that show next. So, you don’t really need to know who these characters are and Death Be Not Proud works perfectly well as its own thing. Everything is self-contained and tells a bizarrely crackpot story that is jet-black funny and horrifically disturbing in equal measure. I’m off to watch Psychoville next.

Love’s Great Adventure

Julia (Debbie Rush) and Trevor (Steve Pemberton) are the parents of a family. There is Connor (Olly Hudson-Croker) the youngest child, Mia (Gaby French) the middle child and Patrick (Bobby Schofield) the mysterious and largely absent oldest child. It’s coming up to Christmas and all that Julia and Trevor want is a nice and normal family festive celebration. Several everyday family issues may just prevent that from happening though.

If there is one thing that Inside No. 9 does well, that thing is not really following any kind of a pattern or even genre. You get episodes steeped in horror, drama, comedy and more. There is one thing that connects the episodes though (not just the bronze hare statue thing) and that thing is that every episode has some kind of twist or sting… except for this one. There is no real twist for me to spoil here, no rug pulling. There is a bridge that links two subplots, but no real twist. This is a story about everyday family life that just evolves over the course of the episode. Each scene is split into a day and each day is counted down via the use of a traditional Christmas advent calendar. It feels very much like a soap opera plot that would usually be told over several weeks and months, but told here in 20-odd minutes and done so with much more talent too. This is just a bittersweet family drama and we learn more and more about this family as the days tick by. Apparently, most of it was ad-libbed too.


Struggling magician Neville (Reece Shearsmith) has a visit from Willy (Steve Pemberton). Willy shows off a new floating chair magic trick. It’s an impressive trick too, one that Neville just can not work out how it is done. He asks to buy the trick, but Willy refuses to sell. Desperate to get his hands on the trick so he can make a lot of money, Neville kills Willy and takes the trick as his own. Nine years later and Neville has become one of the most acclaimed magicians around, famed for ‘his’ floating chair trick. Gabriel (Fionn Whitehead), a young and eager magician himself, turns up at Neville’s place to interview the well-respected magician in hope that he can get some advice on how to get better at his craft.


This episode very much put me in mind of The Riddle Of The Sphinx from series three. Its style of writing, its multilayered and clever scripting and the seemingly straightforward plot. Misdirection is a wonderful tale of, well… misdirection. Even though I kind of worked out where the episode was going and who the Gabriel character was, there is still a lot here that did fool me. Still, I think that the idea of who Gabriel is was part of the misdirection that made this episode so damn great. A magical episode that, even when you do work out where it is going, it still manages to surprise and entertain.

Thinking Out Loud


Meet Bill (Phil Davis), an older man looking for love via video dating. Meet Nadia (Maxine Peake), a middle-aged woman using video to record her thoughts as a form of therapy. Meet Galen (Steve Pemberton) a death-row prisoner confessing his crimes on camera. Meet Angel (Ioanna Kimbook), a vacuous and insipid ‘influencer’ talking bollocks to all her ‘fans’ over the internet. Meet Aidan (Reece Shearsmith), a terminally ill cancer sufferer who is recording a video for his unborn daughter to watch after he has died. Meet Diana (Sandra Gayer), a church singer with the voice of an angel taking part in a singing audition on camera. Aside from all of these characters talking (or singing) to camera, what else do they share in common?

I know that I have continually praised the writing of Inside No. 9 at every opportunity. Even with episodes that I have felt are ‘lesser’, I have still found the writing to be exceptional. Here with Thinking Out Loud, this is easily one of the most creative and densely written episodes yet. This really is one that you will have to watch multiple times to get everything. There are so many clues and outright giveaways of what is really going on here that they pass you by, just hiding in plain sight. Foreshadowing, double meanings and mirrored dialogue everywhere, and for good reason too. This one also breaks one of the rules of the show, as it takes place in more than one location… kind of. It is also directed by Steve Pemberton. Though Pemberton and Shearsmith co-directed both the Cold Comfort and Nana’s Party episodes from series two, this is the first time that either of them has directed an episode solo. It’s a really great one too.

The Stakeout

Special Police Constable Varney (Reece Shearsmith) is dead. That’s not a spoiler, the episode starts out with him covered in blood and his voiceover telling you that he is dead. We then cut back in time to the events that led to an explanation of just how and why Varney ended up being covered in blood and dead. Varney is partnered up with PC Thompson (Steve Pemberton) and the pair are on a police stakeout. As they spend all their time together stuck in a police car for hours on end, the two have plenty of time to talk and learn more about each other. Such as Varney’s overly sensitive nose for odours. It turns out that Thompson’s previous partner ended up dead too and forensic evidence that could lead to who killed him has gone missing. With the episode starting out showing you that Varney is dead too, it is only a matter of joining the dots to learn who did kill Thompson’s previous partner.


Okay, right from the off, this one got me. The rug was well and truly pulled from under my feet. The thing is that, all of the evidence of what the reveal at the end of the episode is here. Just as with the previous episode, everything is hiding in plain sight. When I did get to the end of this one, I did have a WFT moment and was ready to call this out for being utter bullshit and ‘out of nowhere’ ending. But a second viewing soon shut me up because Pemberton and Shearsmith have (once more) put together a very well-written and tight story that does not cheat the viewer. A great end to a great series.


Normally with TV shows, the fatigue sets in around the third or fourth series and I often begin to lose interest. With Inside No. 9, the exact opposite seems to be happening. If Forrest Gump were to describe this show, it most definitely would be like a box of chocolates, which is a phrase I’ve never understood because all boxes of chocolates that I have bought tell you exactly what you are going to get. Anyway, these two series cover everything from comedy and horror to kitchen-sink drama and even a bit of Shakespearean prose. Even when I thought that I got the measure of an episode, it still managed to surprise me. The live Dead Line Halloween special really is a wonderful slice of modern TV. I may not have thought much of the actual plot and it didn’t ultimately catch me out, but the production and process of the episode was amazing and something that I deeply admire.

Inside No. 9 is a show that has me smiling from ear to ear at one episode, to feeling heartbroken with another… sometimes in the same episode. The fatigue that I mentioned has not happened yet and as I am now five series in and heading to the finish line of this retrospective with the last two series, I’m like a 6-year-old kid on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa to turn up. I really want to take a cheeky peek at my presents and get an idea of what I will be getting… but I won’t.

Inside No. 9: A Perversely Humorous Retrospective – Introduction And Series One

I have always had a bit of a penchant for anthology storytelling in movies and TV shows. A couple of Halloweens ago, I did a big Creepshow retrospective looking at all the films, the first season of the TV show and everything in between. Before that, I did a longer retrospective looking at all of the Amicus anthology films of the 60s through to the 80s. So, I wanted to cover some more anthology stories with my Halloween special this year.

The truth is that, I actually began doing a full retrospective of the awesome 90s (though it started in 1989) TV show, Tales From the Crypt. I got three seasons in and decided to take a break. For that break, I watched the first series of Inside No. 9 and well, let’s just say that I got very, very distracted. My Tales From the Crypt retrospective was put on the back burner (maybe next year?) as I got completely lost in Inside No. 9 instead. Now, just what is Inside No. 9 I don’t hear you ask? Well then, allow me to fill you in.


Inside No. 9 is a British anthology show massively inspired by the likes of Tales of the Unexpected, The Twilight Zone, Armchair Thriller, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the like. Not always 100% horror but certainly stories with a dark, macabre vein of perverse humour. Yarns with twists or stings in the tail that can surprise, entertain and even outright bemuse or just straight up unsettle you. The show is the brainchild of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith who not only write every single episode, but at least one of them also appears in every single episode, either as a main character or just a supporting one.

The title of the show comes from the fact that every episode takes place in somewhere numbered or connected to 9. A train carriage, a house, etc. It is also partly influenced by the Hammer House of Horror episode called The Mark of Satan, which featured a character obsessed with the number 9 (apparently). Each episode is self-contained and because they usually take place in one confined place, they really feel more like short plays than TV show episodes. There is no direct connection between any of the stories, except for a small ornament of a hare in the background that you can try to spot for fun. Episodes vary in style and tone too from family dramas to black comedies and even straight-up horror stories. It also features some really clever and inventive filming techniques and ideas, of which I will cover as I go through the episodes. Speaking of which…


Oh yeah, before I do get into this. I’m purposely not going to be doing spoilers here. Though I will be looking at each individual episode, I am not exploring the endings and I won’t be going into detail (except for one particular episode that I will look at in a separate very spoiler-rific article). So, this should be safe to read if you’ve not yet watched the show. Still, I do recommend that you just watch Inside No. 9 without reading this, if you’re not familiar with the show yet.

Before I forget and just for clarity. This intro that you are reading right now, I wrote after watching all of the series and every episode. However, for the coverage of each series and the episodes themselves, I wrote them as and when I watched them (except for series one, which I watched before I decided to write this). So, I never knew what was coming with each series and the episodes at the time… if that makes sense. Let’s crack on.

Series One

First shown between the 5th of February to the 12th of March 2014. This series started with an episode that was far from being horror-centric, but it did serve as a great introduction to the bizarre, unusual and confined style of storytelling that Inside No. 9 creators, writers and actors, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, would use for every single episode.



At a party to celebrate their engagement, Rebecca (Katherine Parkinson) and Jeremy (Ben Willbond) decide to play a game of sardines with their guests. Sardines being a variation on hide-and-seek where one person hides but when found, the finder then hides with the hider in the same place. Ian (Tim Key) is the initial hider and when Rebecca finds him hiding in a wardrobe, she joins him. More and more guests find the wardrobe hiding place and climb inside. This is when the various guests (both in and outside of the wardrobe) begin to chat and numerous secrets and pasts of the party members are slowly revealed.

Having the entire episode filmed inside and around a wardrobe is a perfect example of the confined style of tales that would be the show’s selling point. A small-ish cast (though this episode featured one of the show’s biggest casts) in small locations dealing with intimate storytelling. The secrets of the various guests that are revealed really do venture into some dark places at times too, leading to an ending that certainly has a sting in the tail.

A Quiet Night In

Taking place at a very expensive-looking and very modernist house. Gerald (Denis Lawson) sits down to enjoy a bowl of soup. Listening to some Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gerald is unaware of two burglars (Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith) trying to break into his home, who are aiming to steal a very expensive painting. Gerald is seemingly having a few relationship issues with his partner Sabrina (Oona Chaplin). As the couple bicker and argue, they fail to notice the two burglars claim their prize. However, getting out of the house unnoticed with the painting will prove to be a lot harder than getting in without it.


The genius element of this episode is that it is mostly silent with pretty much zero dialogue. The fact that Oona Chaplin (the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin) was cast to be in a silent episode was genius. Then there is the fact that A Quiet Night In is very slapstick comedy-like, something else that Charlie Chaplin was famed for. However, the slapstick here is far, far more macabre and disturbing than anything that Chaplin ever did. I mean, there is this bit with a Yorkshire Terrier dog and an umbrella stand. There are a lot of surprises here and just when you think you know where the episode is going, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith pull the rug from under your feet with some deft writing. Definitely one of the darker episodes of the show and one of the better episodes too with plenty of unsuspecting twists from the start to the end.

Tom & Gerri

Tom (Reece Shearsmith) is a primary school teacher who really doesn’t enjoy his job and dreams of being a writer. Tom lives with Gerri (Gemma Arterton), a struggling actress who has just landed a part in a play and is often away rehearsing. Tom becomes preoccupied with a homeless man called Migg (Steve Pemberton) who has been hanging around outside of his flat. Migg knocks on Tom’s door saying that he has found Tom’s wallet and wants to return it. Tom invites Migg into his flat and the two start an unusual friendship. Meanwhile, Gerri begins to worry about Tom’s mental state as he quits his teaching job, spends all day in his flat with Migg and becomes very withdrawn from his own life.

This is what I adore about Inside No. 9, we just came from the slapstick (but dark) comedy of the last episode involving two bumbling burglars and straight into one bereft of comedy and an episode that focuses on mental health and depression. This one is just bleak and has no respite, with an ending that is a complete downer but wonderfully realised. This may not be a 100% accurate depiction of real-life mental illness and depression issues, but it really does make for an excellent slice of TV using it as a theme. This was an episode that certainly wrong-footed me too as I thought that I had guessed where it was going before the halfway point. But no, my guess on the plot direction was wrong and by the time the credits rolled, I was dumbfounded. Both Pemberton and Shearsmith put in amazing acting performances too.

Last Gasp


Terminally ill Tamsin (Lucy Hutchinson) is celebrating her 9th birthday. Her parents, Jan (Sophie Thompson) and Graham (Steve Pemberton) have arranged for a charity to organise a very special surprise for their daughter, a visit from famed singer Frankie J Parsons (David Bedella). When Frankie dies while blowing up a balloon for Tamsin, a plot to try to sell his last gasp of breath, which is in the balloon, is hatched. The grown-ups of Tamsin’s parents, charity worker Sally (Tamsin Greig) and Frankie’s assistant Si (Adam Deacon) begin to fight over just who owns the dead man’s breath.

This episode, with the grim nature of selling a dead person’s dying breath, is loaded with dark comedy and is very watchable. Plus, it really is a twisted look at pointless celeb culture, worship and adulation, while mixing in an interesting narrative on greed and human nature. Lucy Hutchinson playing the terminally ill 9 year old steals the show as she watches the supposed ‘adults’ bicker like children over something as pathetic as a balloon.

The Understudy

Tony (Steve Pemberton) is an overbearing stage actor currently appearing as Macbeth in a production of Shakespeare’s famed play. Jim (Reece Shearsmith) is Tony’s understudy who often dreams of becoming the star of the show. During a performance of Macbeth, Tony gets drunk between acts, Jim is poised to take his place and is encouraged by his girlfriend (Lyndsey Marshal) to do so. However, Tony insists that he goes on, meaning that Jim misses his big chance to take over and play the lead role. When Tony drunkenly falls off the stage during the performance, Jim finally gets his chance to become a leading actor… but at what cost?


The structure of this episode is split into five acts, following the standard for theatrical productions. It also heavily borrows from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to tell its story too, though you really don’t need to have knowledge of Macbeth to follow the plot. In fact, it’s probably best that you don’t know much about Macbeth to get the most out of this one and not spoil any of the surprises. Though you will most probably miss out on most of the in-jokes and references. This episode definitely takes a statical swipe at actors and I do adore it when people (in this case, actors) can have a pop at themselves. The story is deliciously dark, twisted and it leads to a great resolve.

The Harrowing

Schoolgirl Katy (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) is hired to housesit a stately mansion owned by Hector (Reece Shearsmith) and Tabitha (Helen McCrory) while they attend an event. The house is kept at a frosty −3°C as Andras (Sean Buckley), who is Hector and Tabitha’s disabled brother, needs it to be set at that temperature to be conformable. Andras will ring a bell if he needs anything, though Hector and Tabitha say he never uses it anyway and then, Katy is left alone. Shell (Poppy Rush), a friend of Katy, turns up at the house to offer her some help and support…. then the bell rings.

This is the most overtly horror-centric episode of this series, with a gloriously gothic tone throughout. Harking back to classic horror films of the 50s and 60s with the likes of House on Haunted Hill but with a modern edge. This one really is more like a short horror film that really does lean on the macabre more so than any other episode so far. There is some comedy here but it is jet-black comedy that even makes the A Quiet Night In episode look positively jovial… which it isn’t. An episode that really does hit home a much more horror perspective and showcases just how dark Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith can get with their writing.


Series one of Inside No. 9 is a great mix of genres and writing styles. This is what I love about anthology storytelling, you can say and do pretty much anything and only be limited by your own imagination. Imagination is something that Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith seem to have by the truckload too. There are dark comedy, slapstick comedy and stories with zero comedy here. Tales that look at serious issues such as mental illness and ones that are just outright stupidly silly for the sake of entertainment.

While I have always been aware of Inside No. 9, as a fan of these types of shows, I never really got into it until this year when I decided to take a break from my (now unfinished) Tales From the Crypt retrospective. And do you know what? I’m glad about that too. This first series is a great start and I honestly can not wait to get everything else watched and written up.


Before I move on to the rest of the series. There was a special Internet-only and interactive webisode called The Inventors from 2014. I believe it used to be on the BBC site but isn’t any longer. I’ve not seen this one and the show’s creators and writers, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, weren’t even involved in it (so I don’t count it as canon). I did find this article that covers what it was all about though. Plus there is a YouTube video that you can watch, though it (obviously) has lost its interactive USP. And with that out of the way, series two and three.

Dead Or Alive: A Robocop Retrospective – Part Two

Well, this certainly turned out to be a longer article than I anticipated, to the point where I had to split this into two parts (part one here). First up RoboCop as a live-action TV show…. oh dear…


No, this wasn’t a remake of the original film but a live-action TV series. Originally airing in 1993-94, this show only lasted for 1 season and 23 episodes. ‘Technically’ 23 episodes, I should say. The pilot was basically a feature-length episode that was later split into two parts but counted as 1 episode. I have to admit to being a little confused as to where this sits in the timeline. It seems to be a direct follow-up to (or at least based on) the first film and it also seems to ignore the sequels… but its tone and style are much more in line with the kid-friendly RoboCop 3 film. There is no over-the-top violence that those first couple of films were known for, there’s no swearing or even the slightest sniff of any adult-themed content. According to, this show takes place 5 years after the events of the first film.


Plus most of the characters of the original film have had name changes. Murphy/RoboCop is still here but Lewis is now Lisa Madigan, as an example. Sgt. Reed is Sgt. Parks, even Murphy’s wife and kid were renamed, I believe the name changes were a rights thing. The producers got the rights to the RoboCop character to make this TV show (and other elements of the character) but not the rights to other characters from the films. I really do not know how that works out, how can you get the rights to use RoboCop… but none of the other characters? To make things even more mysterious, this show uses footage from the first film. The flashbacks that show Murphy’s ‘death’ include Clarence Boddicker and his gang, with all of the original actors too. There are clips from Murphy being taken into hospital and more taken directly from the first film. So they secured the rights to use footage, the Murphy/RoboCop character and so on, but none of the other character names? I mean, they reshot scenes of Murphy’s death to replace Anne Lewis with Lisa Madigan as his partner. So this is a direct sequel to the first film then… but everyone changed their name (and face)? Honestly, this makes no sense.

What is rather interesting about this kid-friendly show is that the pilot was written by RoboCop’s creators, Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner (or at least adapted from one of their film sequel scripts). They actually okayed this, they willingly put their names on it. So it must be worthy of the original film… right? Originally, the producers even tried to get Peter Weller to return and reprise the main role. However, he showed zero interest, so they cast Richard Eden as Murphy/RoboCop instead. You know what? Eden is actually a pretty decent RoboCop. But this show suffers the same issues that RoboCop 3 had. The actor was decent enough, he just had shit scripts to work with. Which does bring me to the meat of this show.


Again, this TV show decided to be more kid-friendly, à la RoboCop 3. Episodes featured villains that RoboCop would take out using non-lethal means. Plus all of the bad guys felt very 1960s Batman TV show. I mean, one of the main villains was called ‘Pudface’, so that will give you an idea of the quality here. In fact, the whole show has that 60s Batman kind of a flavour to it. The leaders of OCP are played up for laughs, instead of being the cutthroat corporate bastards that they were in the first film and so on. RoboCop even gets a really annoying kid sidekick called Gadget… because of course he does. This really is more like a live-action version of the previously covered animated show, over the movie it was based on. By now and after the release and failure that was RoboCop 3, the franchise was a bit of a laughing stock anyway, so there really wasn’t a great deal of expectation for this TV show. In that regard, this is a very typical 90s kids/early teens cop show.

RoboCop (the TV show) is a very, very ‘meh’ effort. But, to be honest, I never really expected much from it at this point in the franchise. The episodes are a bit cheesy and the villains do feel very pantomime for the most part. RoboCop feels more like a kid-friendly superhero here than a bad-ass cybernetic cop from the first film. This is the kind of show that would be on before a film, early Saturday evening. So you’d put the TV on ready to watch the said film, only it hadn’t started yet and this was on. But you just couldn’t be arsed to change the channel, so you’d just watch this while waiting for the film to start.

RoboCop: Alpha Commando

And so here we are, the second animated version of RoboCop. Again, I have no idea where this is supposed to sit in the timeline. Lasting for just 1 season but a whopping 40 episodes, airing between 1998 and 1999. I don’t know if this is a sequel to the previous animated show or a stand-alone thing. Many of the writers on this also worked on the other animated show, so there is that connection at least. It does have an awesome theme tune with some of the greatest lyrics you will ever hear though… honest.

You already know the score by now. Lots of lasers, bad puns and non-lethal means to stop the villains… who are typical 90s animation bad guys. Nothing like its source material and an even more kid-friendly version of the ultra-violent film. Very much a standard 90s kids cartoon with plenty of ‘tude’… RoboCop even has inline skates and calls women ‘babes’! Really, this has even less to do with the source material than anything else before it, that’s including RoboCop 3. The only returning character, other than Robo himself, is Sgt Reed (so it’s connected to the film series then?). Lewis even isn’t in this and there is no explanation why either (so it’s not connected to the film series then?). The art style is also a load of shit. I mean, look what they did to RoboCop…


RoboCop: Alpha Commando is strange, to say the least. Save for the main character and Sgt Reed, this has nothing to do with any RoboCop lore before it. Seriously, this could very easily have had a different title character and still been the exact same show. Even the other animated show connected to the first film and had Clarence Boddicker and his gang, it had other returning characters and while it was massively toned down, it was still connected to the first film. This show though… nothing. The other animated RoboCop show wasn’t great, but it was somewhat watchable and at least recognisable as being a spin-off of the film. That other one even had kid-friendly messages about racism and such, it even addressed Murphy’s humanity. This one has RoboCop falling into a janitor’s closet and having a bucket end up on his head. RoboCop: Alpha Commando is more like an updated version of Inspector Gadget than a Robocop-based show. This feels more like a parody of RoboCop than something that is supposed to be an official addition to the character. Of the two animated shows, I’d suggest you avoid this one and give the first one a chance instead. That first one wasn’t great, but it wasn’t this either.

RoboCop: Prime Directives

So now we have a TV mini-series, released in 2001 and was somewhat of a return to form, to be honest. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying that RoboCop: Prime Directives is on par with the first or even the second film. But it is a massive step up in quality from what came after those first two films. This was actually four feature-length episodes: Dark Justice, Meltdown, Resurrection, and Crash and Burn. Now, I’m not going to go over all four episodes individually but just go over Prime Directives as a whole.

First up, this takes place 10 years after the events of the first film and works as a direct sequel to the original that ignores events from the sequels. This is also another one of those ‘strange rights’ things as the production company of this didn’t have the rights to use footage from the film… even though the 1993-94 live-action show did, when that re-wrote the characters to be all new and unconnected to the first film. They also couldn’t use ED-209 as that character has its own copyright too. RoboCop rights really are a bit weird. Well okay, there is some footage from the first film in one of the episodes but it’s been slightly altered and not shown how it was originally screened. I don’t know if that was done to get around copyright.


Anyway, even though this is a direct sequel to the first film, the only returning character is RoboCop. After some digging around, it appears that Lewis did exist in this universe but she died before the events of this mini-series are shown. How she died is not known and it (supposedly) isn’t connected to her death in RoboCop 3 at all, she’s just dead in this timeline. Other character disappearances are not addressed. It’s been 10 years since the first film, people move on I guess?

The basic plot of RoboCop: Prime Directives revolves around RoboCop being obsolete and how a new RoboCop is created. Yeah, it does sound a bit like the plot of RoboCop 2 but it’s also very different and very much does its own thing with the idea. The four episodes can really be split into two acts the first two episodes focus on the older and newer RoboCop as they battle it out, only to later decide to team up and take on the big bad of the series. The last two episodes follow the two RoboCops as they do what they do and clean up the streets and take out Dr Kaydick, who is threatening to destroy all known life with his ‘bio-tech’.

Look, I’m not going to sit here and say that RoboCop: Prime Directives is a well-written piece (or four pieces) of TV but compared to anything post-RoboCop 2, this is fucking Shakespeare. In terms of tone, it kind of hits the middle ground between the violence of the first two films and the kid-friendliness of the first live-action TV show. Some of the bad guys that RoboCop goes up against can be a bit ‘pantomime’ but at the same time, the character kicks some arse. In the opening 10 minutes of the first episode, RoboCop shoots someone in the head… with a bullet too and not some kind of non-lethal device, then another person gets blown up when a bomb strapped to his chest is shot with a mini-gun. This is a violent TV show, not as graphic as the original film and you don’t see blood spraying everywhere, though there is blood in the series, it is used sparingly.


The way it is filmed is darker and grittier too, miles away from how the other TV show looked and felt. Along with the violence, there is swearing. Like the violence, it’s not terribly graphic but there is some swearing. You won’t hear anyone screaming “fuck me, fuck, me, fuck me” over and over, but you will hear the odd ‘shit’, ‘son of a bitch’, ‘bastard’ and so on. Speaking of bastards, that is how the OCP executives are portrayed too. Not the comic foils they were in the other TV show but more hard-nosed and ruthless. Plus the satire of American culture is back It has a lot of what the first two films featured… just not as well implemented. Page Fletcher plays Murphy/RoboCop and he’s pretty good in the role. He’s no Peter Weller but he ain’t too bad at all. Fletcher plays the character similarly but his movements are faster and more urgent.

Overall, RoboCop: Prime Directives is actually pretty decent. Okay so it’s not original film great, but it is certainly far better than anything from RoboCop 3 onwards. If I had a gripe, then that would be that with the four episodes being over 90 minutes each, they can drag on a little bit. An edit to bring the total runtime down to 4 hours would be great as there are some scenes that seem overly long for no reason and other scenes that seem very redundant. Plus, there are times when you can tell that the budget for this that wasn’t great. I can’t blame the show for not being big-budget, it’s a TV show of a franchise that was all but dead at the time.


The show even delves into Murphy’s history a bit more before becoming RoboCop. There are a few continuity errors given that this is supposed to be a direct sequel and it’s a shame they didn’t (or couldn’t) use other characters other than RoboCop as this really could’ve been lifted higher with the addition of Lewis, etc. Generally speaking, RoboCop: Prime Directives is watchable, even pretty damn good in places. After going through the entire RoboCop franchise for this article, it’s nice to end on something that’s not too bad and proof that given a better budget and more care, a RoboCop TV show could work. Oh yeah, it’s not quite the end yet, is it?


I guess it had to happen at some point, the dreaded remake. Now, I’m not somebody who has anything  against remakes, generally speaking. Remakes can be good and I honestly welcome the idea of seeing a different take on a story and characters that I enjoy. Still, I am fully aware that remakes can be and usually are fucking terrible. Even so, I did go into this version with an open mind and on paper, it really had a lot of promise. There are some great actors in this, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. ‘mother fucking’ Jackson. The trailer looked good too, not great but good.


So this one is a full-on remake of the original. Through the franchise, we have had film sequels, animated TV shows and live-action TV shows that have both worked as direct sequels and alternate timelines. But this was the first and proper full remake. Released in 2014 with Joel Kinnaman playing the title role. Originally, the RoboCop remake was due to come out in 2010 with Darren Aronofsky on board to direct… which could’ve been amazing as Aronofsky is a wonderful director. However ‘creative differences’ had Aronofsky leave the project and the film was delayed. So why did Darren Aronofsky leave? Because he wanted to make a hard adult-themed film in line with the original, whereas the studio wanted something more ‘bankable’… or PG-13 (mainly because the studio were having financial difficulties at the time). So Aronofsky was out and after a delay or seven, José Padilha was brought in as director instead, while Aronofsky went on to make Black Swan.

Anyway, as mentioned, what we got was a ‘safe’ PG-13 take on the notoriously violent RoboCop. Okay, so this wasn’t as toned down as some of the other projects, like the third film, the animated shows and the live-action attempts… but this still felt very diluted. And it wasn’t just the lack of violence either as this version completely missed out on the subtle humour and satire that the first film was famed for. Overall, RoboCop (2014) is very dull. In terms of being a remake and judging it as a remake, it’s okay at best. In terms of being part of the RoboCop franchise, it is piss poor and a wasted effort.


There are things that I do like about this version. There are some great performances all through the cast. The likes of Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. ‘mother fucking’ Jackson are really enjoyable here, even if their characters aren’t very interesting, their acting is worth it. Then there is Joel Kinnaman playing Murphy/RoboCop, he’s actually really good too. Some of the updated tools that RoboCop has do make a lot of sense, like being able to connect to (basically) wi-fi and search for police suspects. But then there are parts that make zeros sense, like RoboCop having non-lethal means to take out the bad guys. That’s something from the toy range and RoboCop 3 when they wanted to make the character more kid-friendly and PG-13. RoboCop, as a character, isn’t, nor should he ever be, kid-friendly.

The plot is devoid of any depth. Just going back to the first film, on the surface, it is just a film about a cyborg going out for revenge. But it is also a film with a lot of layers to it when you really explore it. There is a reason it is still talked about and revered 35 years later. Here, there is nothing but a bog-standard action flick to sell to the masses with little to no depth. There is no battle with Murphy’s humanity because they changed the character from not knowing who he is, to knowing exactly who he is. Worth a watch… as in singular. This really is a shame too because a more satirical and deeper Robocop remake that was aimed at adults could’ve been awesome.

Other Appearances

That is all of the main big and small screen appearances of RoboCop, but the character has popped up elsewhere in some very strange instances too. So here, I’m just going to sum up a few other notable times that RoboCop has ‘entrained’ us over the years. Outside of the usual novels and comic books attached to the franchise, RoboCop has appeared in some very strange places since the first film was released. From meeting an ex-president of the United States to selling noodles and insurance. Here are all of the curious appearances of RoboCop that I could find.

RoboCop met Richard Nixon. Yup, this actually happened. Just think about that for a second. RoboCop, who is known for upholding the law (it is one of his directives) meeting one of the most famously crooked politicians/ex-presidents in American history. You may think that sounds stupid (it does), you may think it never happened and that I’m just making it up, but…


… it happened alright. So then, the big question is ‘what the fuck?’. Well, after some digging around I found out that this picture was taken in 1987 by Chuck Pulin. For those that don’t know, Pulin was famed for his shots of rock stars in the 60s and 70s. It was a charity event and the meeting of RoboCop and Nixon was done to help promote the VHS release of the first film. It was published in the December, 1987 edtion of Billboard Magazine and the caption under the photo read:

Richard M. Nixon is escorted by RoboCop at a national board meeting of the Boys Club of America. The RoboCop character was on hand to call attention to Orion Home Video’s RoboCop RubOut promotion. Sweepstakes tickets, packaged with each “RoboCop” cassette, offer a number of instant prizes for retailers as well as $25,000 in donations to the Boys Club. The sweepstakes is part of a $3 million promotional effort launched by Orion in conjunction with the action-adventure film’s video release. The cassette will be available in video stores beginning Jan. 28 for a suggested list price of $89.98.

As you can tell from the photo, that’s not the ‘real’ RoboCop (as in, that’s not Peter Weller). The suit looks like something that a drunk cosplayer would knock up in 10 minutes. It’s fucking terrible and proof that they were bastardising the character long before RoboCop 3 existed. Still, RoboCop meeting Richard Nixon is pretty ‘out there’… and that’s not even the strangest thing RoboCop has ever done.

RoboCop teamed up with some Marvel heroes. Long before the MCU was even thought of, RoboCop was already kicking arse with some of Marvel’s biggest superheroes. Okay, so he didn’t so much kick-arse as he just pulled a lever. Still, you really want to see RoboCop teaming up with Captain America, don’t you? Well, it all happened at the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade in 1987. But why? Well at the time, Marvel had secured the rights to use RoboCop for their comics. A series of RoboCop comics were released in the 90s but before those, there was a comic book adoption of the film released in 1987 from Marvel. So anyway, for a while, Marvel had the RoboCop rights… so they put him in a Thanksgiving Day parade with Marvel heroes, logic? It is a very quick ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ appearance but here it is and it all happened using the theme from Back to the Future because?

So then, after teaming up with some of Marvel’s finest, where can RoboCop go from there? Saving Pee-wee Herman, obviously. Oh yeah, before Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) was caught playing with his pee-wee in a porno cinema, he was attacked by ED-209 for RoboCop to come and save him. No, this isn’t some deluded fever dream I had, this really happened at the 1988 Oscars. Just as Pee-wee is about to present an Oscar, ED-209 bursts into the theatre and begins shooting at Pee-wee as he starts to fly… yes fly. RoboCop turns up and shoots ED-209 with his left hand… even though he’s right-handed (the things you spot where you’re a big RoboCop fan) with some very questionable effects work. And then… hang on, why the bollocks am I describing this to you when you can watch it right here?


RoboCop even did a bit of professional wrestling… kind of. Capital Combat: Return of RoboCop was a one-off PPV event at some wrestling thing held in 1990. Look, I don’t watch wrestling, I have no idea what this is or what the ‘eff was going on. There was some kind of backstory thing and one of the wrestlers put another one in a cage. RoboCop turned up and ripped the cage door off its hinges (read: lightly pulled the fake and obviously unlocked cage door of a fake cage) and that was it. The best bit was when RoboCop accidentally opens the cage when he was clearly not supposed to… to then pull the door off its hinges even though it was open. Basically, RoboCop 2 was set for release and so this event was set up as a promotion for the film. Click this link to see the few seconds of RoboCop’s short wrestling career. He doesn’t even do any wrestling… in a wrestling event named after the character. They filmed a short promo for it too if you want to watch it.

So now, I have a few Asian ads that make little sense in their own right and feature RoboCop to make far less sense. I don’t have exact air dates for these, but I’m pretty sure they all came from the 90s. First up RoboCop killing bugs. There really is little to say here other than that there must be very little crime in Japan (I think it’s Japanese) if all RoboCop has to worry about is CGI bugs. Next up, RoboCop advertising GoldStar (now LG) TVs. I have no idea what was going on there but I’d definitely buy a TV from RoboCop. This next one could be the most bizarre ad yet… and that’s saying something. Do you want a TV ad where RoboCop comes out of a TV, eats some fried chicken and then steals a fridge? Of course you do, click here. I think this one is Korean and aside from the very, very shiny and chrome RoboCop, did you hear what was playing in the background? It’s not very loud but listen carefully with the volume turned up… that’s the Back to the Future III theme. After the 1987 Thanksgiving parade using the BttF theme, I have to ask why is RoboCop stealing BttF music?


Then we have RoboCop advertising instant noodles… cos you know… Asian. There were actually a series of these ads, I don’t know how many there were in total, but here’s a video of two of them. I did find a site claiming that these ads were from the 80s. However, a copyright pops up at one point that clearly says “RoboCop 3 1992”. Though RoboCop 3 was released in 1993, it was meant to be released in 92 but was delayed when Orion Pictures went through Bankruptcy. So I assume that these ads were originally made to help promote the original 1992 release of the film? Oh yeah, I also found someone selling the RoboCop eclectic toothbrush that was made to help promote the noodles, as shown in the last ad.

This last ad (so far, before a slight break), also from the 90s, didn’t feature the official RoboCop, nor was it Asian. But I just really had to include it here because it’s so fucking stupid. I mean, fake and rose-pink ‘RoboCop’ going to buy a new exhaust (I am English) for his car? Then a ninja appears for no reason and fake RoboCop does nothing other than praise the price of his car part. Two thumbs up for its utter nonsense.


From 1993 was RoboCop: The Ride. Not based on any of the films, but it was released to coincide with the release of RoboCop 3. This was one of those ‘sit down in a chair with loads of other people and get thrown about while looking at a big screen’ type of rides… or a motion ride, as they are called. This one popped up in several places like the Granada Studios Tour in Manchester. It also appeared in Texas, California and a few other places. The basic plot of the ride was you tagged along with RoboCop, as a new recruit, patrolling Detroit. The mayor is kidnapped and you have to save him. It was a mix of live-action and CGI sections. There’s a good video that takes a deeper look at the ride right here. But footage of the entire ride does not seem to exist. Now for an all-star cameo featuring a T-Rex (presumably from Jurassic Park), Darth Vader, Ferengi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, a Cardassian soldier from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, G.I. Joe and yes, RoboCop. From the 1995 film, The Indian in the Cupboard, this little snippet is a cornucopia of popular character cameos at the time.


Alright, let’s have a few more RoboCop TV ads before I end this retrospective. Once more, there were a series of these ads, how many in total? I have no idea. But what is RoboCop pushing onto punters now… KFC, obviously. We already know he loves his fried chicken following that Korean ad previously. But now, he’s taking on the king of fried chicken with the Colonel himself. Here’s a link to a collection of the KFC ads. This KFC ad campaign seems to come from 2019, that’s pretty recent. What I love is that they blended both the famed Colonel Sanders and RoboCop to make Colonel RoboCop, as if the Colonel died and was bright back as a cyborg. Even better… that’s Peter Weller. The original RoboCop actor back playing the character that made him famous. Now, I’m pretty sure that’s not Weller in the suit, he would’ve been around 72 at the time. But it has been confirmed as being Peter Weller’s voice.

The last RoboCop ad (so far) was as recent as 2020. It was for Direct Line insurance. Playing RoboCop this time was Derek Mears, a name that you may not recognise, even though he’s played some of cinema’s biggest characters. Mears played Jason Voorhees in the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th, he played a Predator in Predators from 2010 and he was also the title character from the 2019 Swamp Thing TV show.


For the final RoboCop appearance, I just want to quickly look at a statue. A more than 11-foot tall, 2.5-ton bronze statue of RoboCop was made and it took 11 years too. Here is a video of its reveal and an article looking at its making. Basically, the statue was made because Philadelphia had a Rocky statute and someone on Twitter asked why doesn’t Detroit have one for RoboCop. Over a decade later and RoboCop finally had a massive statue made. Originally set to be placed outside of the Michigan Science Center, Detroit in 2021… it never was. As of writing, the statue is in storage with it set to be publicly placed and unveiled elsewhere in Detroit this summer.

And that is ‘yer lot for Robocop on the big and small screen… and some wonderfully bizarre appearances. There was been a lot of talk of a direct sequel to the first film coming out. Called Robocop Returns, the film is said to have a completed script that has been penned by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, who co-wrote the original film together. Neill Blomkamp was originally attached to direct but he left the project in 2019. Abe Forsythe then came on board as director… and then the whole covid thing happened and it has been very quiet on the Robocop Returns front since then. News on the film is non-existent (or top secret) and I have no idea if the project is moving ahead or not, as of writing this article.


I hope it does though, the idea of a new sequel that ignores most of the franchise to create a new timeline is something that worked with Halloween. I’d love to see a new Robocop flick and seeing as the remake was utter arse-gravy, the franchise needs to get back to its roots. It would be great to see Peter Weller return in the lead role too… but perhaps not in the famed suit itself. Weller is (as of writing) 75-years-old. I really don’t think he’d be up to playing the character again, at least not physically. But there have been some great leaps forward in digital technology these days. They could get a younger actor in the suit and have Peter Weller’s face digitally added, with Weller providing the voice too. I mean, he did come back to advertise KFC. That is, of course, if Robocop Returns ever does go ahead.

Well, now I have covered everything about Robocop in terms of TV and film, time to take a look at some games.

Sixty Years Of Bond… James Bond

2022 sees the James Bond film series reach the big six zero years old. It all began back in 1962 with Dr. No. Yeah, yeah, before the backlash of ‘actually’… begins. I do know that Dr. No wasn’t the first Bond film. Yes, I do know that Casino Royale from 1954 with Barry Nelson as Bond was technically the first. However, I’m talking about the start of the officially recognised franchise, the one that became a worldwide phenomenon and catapulted the James Bond character into the stratosphere.


Anyway, there are actually several other movie milestones within the Bond franchise that are worth looking at too and that’s exactly what this article is all about. Starting with that first official James Bond film from 1962, I’m going to do a quick celebratory look at all the Bond films reaching a worthy milestone in 2022.

Dr. No


Released in 1962, making this inaugural film in the long-running, sixty years old franchise. The film didn’t just launch the James Bond movie franchise, it also turned its star, Sean Connery, into a film legend. Connery had a few small roles earlier in his career but becoming James Bond would be a career-defining role. It was also a role that Sean Connery ended up detesting.

Seeing Bond sent to Jamaica when an MI6 agent is murdered. The investigation leads Bond to discover the titular Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman ) and his nefarious plan involving a shuttle launch and a radio beam weapon… whatever that is. While this is the first ‘proper’ James Bond film, the novel it is based on was the sixth. Interestingly, the film makes several references to past and future Bond adventures. So this first appearance of Bond on film was treated as the character as already existing.

The intro to Dr. No set the standard that would be followed for six decades. The famed gunbarrel shot (though Bond was not played by Sean Connery but stuntman, Bob Simmons) the iconic Bond theme, the flashy and stylised graphics-heavy title sequence. It all began right here, though there was no dedicated James Bond song that became tradition after this film. Instead, what you do get is the Bond theme that mixes into a very Jamaican rendition of the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme.


I’ve never really been a fan of this one, to be honest. I just found it all a bit ‘dull’ for a film that was billed as being such a huge action-adventure picture. Of course, you do have to give it credit for creating such a massive and much-loved franchise. Apparently, Bond creator, Ian Fleming, said of the film after seeing it that it was:

“Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

I don’t think I’d go that far but Dr. No is hardly one of Bond’s best. The franchise had just begun and in fact, it wasn’t even thought of as becoming a franchise at the time. Even the production studio didn’t have a lot of faith in the film. When released, reviews were very mixed with film critics really not enjoying the film for the most part. Still, it was the general public that paid for cinema tickets that made it popular and once the studio saw the money that Dr. No was bringing in, a sequel was quickly greenlit. The beginning of Bond and a sixty-year franchise was born.

You Only Live Twice


This one came out in 1967 and is fifty-five years old this year. Now in 2022, this film is becoming infamous for the whole Japanese disguise thing where Sean Connery is ‘magically’ transformed into someone of a different race. The snowflakes of today like to find offence in things decades out of date. Still, I thought transitioning into something you are not was quite a popular thing these days…

Anyway, this flick has Bond sent to Japan to investigate the disappearance of American and Soviet spacecraft, which each nation blaming the other. You Only Live Twice is the first Bond film to show Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence ) proper. He had been in previous films, but never seen or only partially seen. The screenplay for the film was also written by the awesome Roald Dahl. This was also the first Bond film to really have very little to do with the novel of the same name. Dhal threw out most of the novel’s plot, only keeping a few smaller references, and instead wrote an all-new story.


At the time, this was reported as being Connery’s last time playing James Bond. It was too… for one film. Conery was enticed back Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 and the non-canonical Never Say Never Again in 1983. Just a little tit-bit for you. Do you know the last time Sean Connery officially played James Bond? It was for the From Russia with Love video game from 2005. Connery not only lent his likeness to the game but he also recorded all new dialogue as James Bond.

I actually really like this Bond outing. It may not be ‘politically correct’ these days and it’s a shame that it has been getting a lot of bad press due to the whole Japanese disguise thing. The film is much more than one outdated gadget from over half a century ago. Connery was well into the role by now and I may even go so far as to say that this was his best performance as James Bond.

The Spy Who Loved Me


1977 was the year that this Bond film hit the big screen, making it forty-five years old. By now, Sean Connery was gone and Roger Moore had stepped into the famous tuxedo. This was Moore’s third outing as James Bond. The Spy Who Loved Me was the tenth book by Ian Fleming and was also the tenth film in the franchise.

Bond has to team up with KGB agent, Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), to learn of the disappearance of a British and a Soviet ballistic-missile submarine. The duo learn that the subs have been stolen by Karl Stromberg (Curt Jürgens) and he plans on creating a new civilisation under the sea called Atlantis… cos it’s a James Bond film. This is the first film where Bond gets to cross paths with fan-favourite villain, Jaws (Richard Kiel).


To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of Roger Moore’s take on James Bond. It was a bit on the silly side and came across as more of a parody of the character. But that is not to say that Moore’s tenure as Bond and that era of films were bad, they are kind of iconic and enjoyable in their own way. While my favourite Moore/Bond film is Live and Let Die, there’s a lot to like here with The Spy Who Loved Me. The memorable opening with the ski-chase/skydive/Union Flag parachute. ‘Wet Nellie’, that’s the awesome Lotus Esprit S1 that turns into a submarine. The Nobody Does It Better song, the first of the Bond songs that’s doesn’t share its title with the film (though Dr. No didn’t have a dedicated song). I have always felt that this film was to Roger Moore what Goldfinger was to Sean Connery.

The Living Daylights


Thirty-five is how old this one is, being released in 1987. We are now onto our fourth official James Bond with Timothy Dalton now playing the part. I have to say this right here, Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond ever. He played the part much more closely as to how Ian Fleming wrote him, he actually looked like Fleming described him too.

For this adventure, Bond is assigned to help General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), a KGB agent, defect. Whilst on the mission, Bond crosses paths with Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), Koskov’s girlfriend who is actually trying to kill Koskov. James Bond soon learns that the whole Georgi Koskov wanting to defect was a ruse for something far more sinister.


The Living Daylights was not just a film with the best James Bond, it also brought back the iconic Aston Martin. Not seen in a Bond film since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, as Lotus became the Bond car manufacturer of the Roger Moore years. Aston Martin’s V8 Volante was the car here and there’s just something about James Bond and Aston Martin that works.

Both of Timothy Dalton’s outings as Bond (this and Licence to Kill) have always been vastly overlooked, I feel. It really is a shame that Dalton didn’t have the chance to come back for more. Long story short and there were behind the scenes legal issues with the James Bond rights. It took several years to sort out and by then, Timothy Dalton was perhaps a bit too old and the producers wanted a new James Bond. A third film was written for Dalton and it was set to be released in 1991. I actually have a separate article looking at that film coming up later. Anyway, after the legal issues were resolved, a new actor stepped into the role, speaking of which…

Tomorrow Never Dies


Released in 1997 and now a ripe twenty-five years old. The eighteenth James Bond film and the second to star Pierce Brosnan after GoldenEye. For me, Pierce Brosnan always felt like the Roger Moore of the nineties. Perhaps not quite as parody-like but certainly a James Bond that was a tad less serious than the predecessor.

This time around, Bond teams up with Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese agent. The two investigate the media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) who, as it turns out, is hellbent on starting World War III via the use of his media empire… and some stolen missiles, of course. This was the first Bond film after the death of the franchise’s legendary producer, Albert R. Broccoli.


This really is not one of the best Bond outings, yet it has one of the best Bond girls with Michelle Yeoh. She’s awesome in this and I always wanted to see a Wai Lin spin-off film. She was going to return for 2002’s Die Another Day to help Bond when he was in Hong Kong. But the idea was scrapped and the character was replaced with Mr Chang (Ho Yi) instead. And on the subject of that film…

Die Another Day


Originally released for the fortieth anniversary of the James Bond franchise in 2001, now twenty years old itself. Die Another Day was specially written to pay respects to the franchise turning forty and was the last outing for Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

After over a year of imprisonment in North Korea  Bond’s freedom is exchanged for Zao (Rick Yune), the right hand-man of Korean dictator Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) … who Bond kind of accidentally killed. MI6 believe that Bond has been broken by the Koreans and leaked information. After escaping MI6, James Bond ends up in Cuba and meets NSA agent Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson (Halle Berry). The two learn of a mysterious British businessman called Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and soon discover his naughty plan.

This was one of the few James Bond films I got to see at the cinema when I was a young twenty-something. Man, I was excited and I came out of the film one happy Bond fan. This film is packed with nods and references to all of the previous Bond films in the franchise. Lines of dialogue, background details, gadgets and more. Die Another Day is a feast for the eyes of a Bond fan.


I then re-watched the film a few months later on DVD… and it was utter pants. I think there’s something about watching a film at the cinema that gives the viewer a false sense of ‘wow, this is awesome’. This is not true of all films of course, but some. There’s just something about seeing a film with a crowd of people on a huge screen and an ear-bleeding sound system that can camouflage how good (or bad) a film really is.

Yes, taking in all the references was bliss for a Bond fan. But the story and characters of this film really are dull and I just didn’t notice how dull when in the cinema because I was too busy being a Bond fan and soaking up the references. I don’t outright hate this film, ‘hate’ is a very strong word and I very rarely use it. But Die Another Day is certainly a disappointment for what was supposed to be a big celebration… and it has Madonna in it too.



The youngest film celebrating a milestone this year. Released in 2012, Skyfall is ten-years-old. This was our latest Bond, Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond. And if you are any good at maths, Skyfall was released on the fiftieth anniversary of the James Bond franchise. It has that awful theme song from Adele but don’t let that put you off Skyfall is great.

Here, James Bond has retired after accidentally being shot and presumed dead. When MI6’s headquarters are blown up, Bond comes out of retirement and offers to help. Back in service and sent to Shanghai, Bond learns of a man called Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva is an ex-MI6 agent who now has a penchant for cyberterrorism and he was the man behind the attack on MI6’s HQ. Silva is captured and brought back to England… which was actually part of his grand plan.


Skyfall is great, not my favourite Daniel Craig outing, that has to go to Casino Royale. But this film is awesome. There’s just something raw about it that makes it stand out. A very different Bond film but still familiar at the same time. I really do like Craig as Bond too. He’s very much like Timothy Dalton in how he is much more no-nonsense and far less jokey. Javier Bardem is a great villain, perhaps the best of the Daniel Craig era of films.

Well, this is it, my look back on sixty years of James Bond and at films that are sharing a milestone within those six decades. I’ll have a few more James Bond articles through the year to continue my James Bond at sixty celebrations.