Silent comedy on TV – Inside No 9: A Quiet Night In, and more

A Quiet  Night In
A Quiet Night In

There’s a silent half-hour comedy on the iPlayer right now. It will be there until 19 March 2014 and I reckon you should check it out. Here’s the link.

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s new anthology series of standalone half-hour comedies has been picking up rave reviews. But the excitement turned positively feral on Wednesday night when episode two, A Quiet Night In, aired on BBC2. The episode features an old rich geezer (Denis Lawson), the two cat burglars who are trying to half-inch his priceless modern art (Pemberton and Shearsmith), his trophy, er, wife (Oona Chaplin) and a door-to-door salesman (Kayvan Novak) – and for the very most part, it is deliciously dialogue-free.

What I really like about what Pemberton and Shearsmith have done is that the idea may be an old one (they have talked about Mel Brook’s Silent Movie as an inspiration), but the tone of A Quiet Night In is far from rowdy slapstick of much modern silent humour, or even the genre-spoofing horror-comedy of their Psychoville series, which was just as inventive as Inside No 9 is shaping up to be. A Quiet Night In is a clever, and very dry comedy – in parts it is almost bleak. It is certainly not for kids, nor sensitive dog lovers. And you’ll never look at kitchen paper, Post-Its and baking foil the same way again.

That Oona Chaplin has a starring role will doubtless please the silent fans – one can only imagine what her grandfather would have made of what lurks under the bedstead here …

On this site you can find out a little more about A Quiet Night In, and watch clips, including a video of the creators discussing their motivation for writing a silent episode.

All this will have to tide us over until Matt Lucas’s Pompidou airs later in the year on BBC1. Yes, the Little Britain star is working on an entirely silent comedy series for the Beeb’s flagship channel. No catchphrases, no David Walliams. Lucas is co-writing, and he will play the title character, “an elderly aristocratic English oddball who has fallen on hard times but who remains upbeat and resourceful”.

It seems the idea is catching: two very famous ITV stars want to develop their own silent comedy project too. Mr Lucas is very supportive, as you can see.

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