Inside No 9: How Shearsmith and Pemberton have revived a lost genre

The anthology series – a collection of individual, unrelated episodes – gave birth to some famous hit shows before falling into disrepute among commissioners

The six-part comedy series Inside No 9 (tonight, 10pm, BBC2) is notable not only for its quality and provenance – it was created by former-League of Gentlemen members Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton – but also because it is an example of a rare genre, the anthology or portmanteau TV show.

Each of the half-dozen comedies has a separate plot and location, linked only by at least one (and generally both) of Shearsmith and Pemberton being among the cast and every setting – whether a country house, bachelor flat, millionaire's apartment or theatre dressing room – having a number 9 on the door or wall.

Because the stories all have an element of suspense and often a surprise final twist, there is a strong sense of homage to Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected (ITV,

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