This time we are following Jury 9, a group of people deciding who is going to win a “Best Actress” award.
Chaired by Giles (Steve Pemberton), the other judges are director Gordon (Noel Clarke); writer Clive (Reece Shearsmith) who is desperately trying to get Gordon to read a script he’s sent to him; cynical American actress Paula (Zoë Wanamaker); luvvie actor Rupert (Kenneth Cranham); the Sunday Mirror’s TV critic June (Fenella Woolger); and token member-of-the-public Jackie (Phoebe Sparrow).
As the judging progresses, the tensions increase among the jurors. Clive agrees to everything Gordon says in an effort to suck up to him; it becomes clear that Paula has not seen any of the performances with her views actually coming from June’s reviews; Jackie just thinks everything is great; and Rupert reveals that he had a sexual encounter with one of the nominees years ago. Things bubble over and threaten to make the decision impossible.
Most of And the Winner Is… is about the tensions that build up between the judges. Clarke was the stand-out performer for me on several occasions, namely when he accuses the panel of racism when they try to get him, the single BAME panel member, to talk first about the only BAME nominee; trying to get Shearsmith’s character to express an original opinion rather than just mindlessly agreeing with him; and when he confronts Woolger’s TV critic because of a bad review that she once gave to a show of his. Wanamaker also put in a good performance, with her claim that every actress nominated, “stole my heart” in the end becoming a bit of a catchphrase.
However, despite all of these good performances, it just didn’t feel as good as the rest of the episodes so far this series. It lacked the comedy of Zanzibar, the drama of Bernie Clifton’s Dressing Room or the darkness of both Once, Removed and To Have and To Hold. While it was well acted, it lacked something that makes the episode truly stand out. It is a good episode in its own right, but among the rest of the brilliant Series 4 it felt a bit down.
Inside No. 9 is on BBC Two at 22.00.