Inside No. 9 tricks fans with Lee Mack ‘bus replacement service’ episode

Virgin Radio

19 May 2023, 10:25

Credit: BBC

When fans tuned in to watch the latest episode of Inside No. 9 last night, they were bewildered to be greeted by a Lee Mack quiz show instead. But everything wasn’t as it seemed.

The scheduled episode of the darkly comedic anthology series yesterday (18th May) from the minds of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton was due to feature guest star Robin Askwith and be inspired by 1970s sitcom On The Buses. 

Earlier in the day, BBC Studios tweeted: “All aboard! It’s going to be a bumpy ride with #InsideNo9. Guest star @Robin_Askwith joins @ReeceShearsmith and @SP1nightonly in another twisted comic tale, made by BBC Studios Comedy Productions.”

Inside No. 9 creator Reece Shearsmith quote-tweeted it, saying: “Don't miss it! The No 9 is due at 10pm on @BBCTwo.”

However, when 10pm came around, viewers did not see the Hold On Tight! episode that they were expecting. Instead, in what appeared to be a change to the schedule, a quiz hosted by Lee Mack, aired.

Eagle-eyed viewers who stayed with the show, rather than disappointedly switching channels, might have noticed a clue in that it was called 3 By 3 (as in, 3 x 3 = 9), and there were certain other nods towards Inside No. 9 during the 30-minute quiz show.

And, if anybody wasn’t aware that 3 By 3 was something to do with the Inside No. 9 universe, they definitely would have been by the time it reached its conclusion. We won’t spoil it for you here, but safe to say quizzes don’t usually end like this one did.

After the broadcast, Shearsmith tweeted: "Hope you enjoyed our (bus) ride!", and Steve Pemberton wrote: “Huge thanks to the amazing @Robin_Askwith for being so game. What a star⭐️”

This was the first to not feature Shearsmith or Pemberton, and it seems that the Robin Askwith episode was purely a red herring, despite lots of the promo for the series revolving around it. 

After the show, Producer Adam Tandy tweeted: “Thanks for watching the bus replacement service on #insideNo9 this evening. So chuffed that the @bbc team are showing Summer Holiday on BBC4 for all disappointed no.9 bus enthusiasts.”

Many viewers were initially baffled, and took to Twitter to express their confusion. One wrote: “what IS happening? #InsideNo9”

Someone else said: “Ok, I’m confused about tonight’s #InsideNo9. I was expecting the one about On The Buses but my Sky box recorded 3x3, the quiz with Lee Mack. What happened?”

Another added: “The best thing about this episode of #InsideNumber9 is looking at the confused people on the #3by3 hashtag”

Were you fooled?

Watch Inside No. 9 on BBC iPlayer.