Inside No 9 | Mulberry Close review

Inside No 9 Mulberry Close
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Doorbells and deception are part and parcel of Mulberry Close, from the final season of Inside No 9. Here’s our review.

This review contains spoilers.

“I might put poison down, that’ll stop them”. “It’s best to use a brick”.

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton have never been shy about using narrative tricks and storytelling devices that challenge them. Just look at previous episodes of Inside No 9: Cold Comfort was filmed from the perspective of a CCTV camera, Zanzibar was written in iambic pentameter and Hold On Tight! was advertised as a 1970s Confessions style farce with Robin Askwith, until the broadcast revealed it was actually 3 by 3, a game show hosted by Lee Mack.

The challenge they set themselves with Mulberry Close, from a writing point of view, is a doozy: almost all the action unfolds in front of the static doorbell camera.

Shearsmith plays the curmudgeonly Damon, who has recently moved into the titular close with Val, played by Vinette Robinson – if you haven’t seen the film and subsequent series of Boiling Point in which she stars alongside Stephen Graham, it is well worth your time – and they waste no time in setting out the stall for the episode.

This is domestic drama at its most incendiary, as neighbours Shelia and Ken (Dorothy Atkinson and Pemberton) are immediately established as busybodies who, in any other drama, would probably be the ones who are murdered in gruesome fashion. Judgemental from the off, making a point of bringing over food that is “healthier than all those curries”, they bring to mind Roy Clarke’s Keeping Up Appearances. Atkinson plays the Hyacinth Bucket stereotype to a tee, right down to the moment when, admonishing their Halloween decorations, she says “as you can see, nobody else really indulges it on the close”.

The other key figure is Larry (Adrian Scarborough) and his dog Popcorn – poor Popcorn. As ever, the denouement is practically explained in throwaway dialogue in the first few minutes.

But before all that, we get to the real meat of the episode: has Damon murdered Val? The structure of the episode means that most of their marital problems happen offscreen in muffled arguments. When Val fails to appear and Damon is seen dragging suitcases to his car in the dead of night, naturally the neighbours assume he’s chopped her up in the bath and disposed of her body. In a lovely bit of sitcom plotting, they try to break in, but while Ken is getting the ladders and Shelia is inside, Larry fails to keep watch and, of course, Damon returns home to some excruciatingly awkward excuses.

Of course, anybody who has seen Inside No 9 will have known that Damon wasn’t the killer, the obvious solution is never the right one with Pemberton and Shearsmith’s writing. They play with the idea all through the episode, until Val breezes up to the front door right before the end.

Anybody familiar with the website will know that while many people are fine with watching people get butchered onscreen, the second a dog is in danger it becomes too much. Pemberton and Shearsmith have found such a wide variety of ways to murder their characters, from burning them alive to being slowly eaten by bugs, but surely, surely they wouldn’t actually kill the dog would they?


Yes, dear Popcorn was destined for the dustbin from the second he appeared with the meek, mild mannered Larry. The reveal was brilliant just as much for what they chose not to show than what they did, with Val opening her bin and their horrified reactions more than selling the moment. Larry picking up the brick and bludgeoning her to death with it off camera was, in hindsight, an inevitable pay off to one of many seeds planted through the episode, like Shelia’s terrible driving, which we discover was the real reason for Popcorn’s death.

Unusually for Inside No 9, the ending is actually positive for once. Not for Val or Popcorn of course, but we see Damon being hauled away by the police and that should be it – until they spot the doorbell camera, which ultimately provides all the evidence they need to convict the right person.

But, this being 2024, that isn’t the ending. Because there was one other thing set up earlier, and it captures the zeitgeist of the time. How many true crime podcasts are there? Netflix drama Bodkin used one as the spine of the whole series. Inside No 9 is often compared to Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, and the comparison is perhaps never more apt than here, as it brought to mind the terrific series 6 episode Loch Henry.

The link? Both episodes end with a Netflix true crime documentary being made about the events that occurred in the episode, all tied up with a lovely payoff to a gag earlier in the episode as the episode concludes with a voiceover from Michael Ball.

Nine series in, and it is remarkable that Shearsmith and Pemberton can still reinvent the wheel while keeping their finger on the pulse of cultural conversation. Next week is back to a more traditional episode, insofar as Inside No 9 can be tradition, as we visit an escape room in CTRL/ALT/ESC.

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