Season eight of Inside No.9 came to an end last night and the talented writers behind the series recount the episode in an exclusive Q&A.
Spoiler alert: This article includes details from The Last Weekend episode.
The Last Weekend aired at 10pm last night (May 25) on BBC Two and iPlayer and fans had high expectations after last week’s episode, quite literally, blew heads off.
Blackburn writer and actor, Steve Pemberton reunited with former Bendiorm cast member Sheila Reid who plays Mollie in the episode, which follows Joe (Pemberton) and Chas (Shearsmith) who have been in a, seemingly, loving relationship for nine years.
Starting off as a classic story of love and grief but unfolding into a dark and twisted tale of revenge, The Last Weekend closed the series with a cruel and satisfying ending.
The Royal Television Society (RTS) charity hosted an exclusive preview of the finale last month, where host Joe McGrath sat down with writers, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, and series eight director, Ian Bevitt.
Internet trolling is a really big subject when it comes to the dark side of social media, was this the inspiration for this episode?
Reece: The inspiration actually started with the grief. In several other episodes, we parcel out how you see the story in chapters and so this was the stages of grief. I think that’s the big trick that makes you think you’re watching this, hopefully, moving and tender love story about these people who are saying goodbye to each other.
That was the train we wanted you to be on for the most of it until the rumple of what he’s really been up to which is revenge, something we’ve explored a lot in the past. Someone getting revenge on somebody else is the best storytelling.
In The Last Weekend, Joe’s daughter was a victim of severe internet trolling which triggered the character's drive for revenge.
I know you don’t like to write the ending because you like to second guess where the episode might go, so where exactly did the trolling element come into it?
Steve: I don’t think we knew exactly what the ending was going to be, but we really liked the idea of a very long held grudge and waiting a very long time to exact your revenge. We made it nine years to fit with the number nine aesthetic, so it was combining the five stages of grief with this long-held revenge.
I think it was not knowing exactly how that revenge was going to be exacted – thinking about the location, the fact it was a weekend retreat, and they were going to pamper each other, and suddenly all the things came together.
You could put something in the champagne, you could have this mud bath that would dry and that you would be surrounded by lots of awful creepy crawlies and that’s set up right at the beginning. When we come, there are ants crawling all over the place.
Even Reece’s character says, ‘I’m going to write one of my snotty emails’, so you’ve set everything up in that first scene. You’ve got this sense you’re in a remote location with lots of fear. I always feel a little bit itchy when you hear that sound.
We wanted to just bed those things in and hopefully hit you with a nice surprise at the end.
What happened with the cement bath? Take us to that day of filming.
Ian: Poor Reece had to be held in a tomb most of the day with a hot water bottle, and he had to pretty much stay there all day.
Reece: It was terrible, my neck is at a right angle. I had neck ache after.
Ian: The thing I remember most was, this was in the gilded age of Liz Truss’s premiership, I kept coming in and reading out various people who had resigned which he was trying not to laugh at because it would ruin the makeup.
What a brutal ending for Chas. What was the inspiration for that?
Steve: I came across scaphism when I was writing a couple of episodes for White Chapel and the writers…gave me this storyline to do with books made of human skin so I did a lot of research about these awful methods of torture.
I came across scaphism and I thought, I’m going to save this for Inside No.9 and that will be a nice punch line for an episode.
But when you’re writing, you don’t have all the things there straight away. It comes gradually and we didn’t know exactly what form the revenge was going to take but then remembering this scaphism, thinking about the bath, the concrete, it all came together quite deliciously.
How long do you think Chas would have stayed in the bath for?
Reece: Nine days. He keeps going in and feeding him quiche, that’s the worst part about it.
All six episodes of series eight of Inside No.9 are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.