Inside No 9, The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge, TV review: Quintessentially barmy British comedy

Another top class bit of silliness from the makers of Psychoville and The League of Gentlemen 

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Inside No. 9 pays a visit to the 17th Century and the sleepy village of Little Happens where, well, very little happens.

Witch-hunting duo Messrs Warren (Reece Shearsmith) and Clarke (Steve Pemberton) – we see what they did there – arrive for the trial of Elizabeth Gadge (Ruth Sheen).

Apparently Goody Gadge has been convening with a demon rodent called Snowflake (it’s just a white mouse) and sucking the teat of a hairy brown beast at night – it’s only Paul Kaye’s Richard Two-Shoes in a shaggy coat.

Writers Pemberton and Shearsmith have rustled up another hilariously dark little half-hour of quintessentially British comedy. The episode takes it cue from the real-life witch hunters John Stearne and Matthew Hopkins and plays out like The League of Gentlemen meets Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

This is top-notch silliness that exposes just how ludicrous the witch hunts were - and they were very silly.

The gags are bang on. From the anachronistic references to witches hats, front row tickets to the burning and toffee apples to dark punnery: an iron founder’s “tongue was made loose" after several hours of interrogation and a pair of tailor’s scissors.

In fact it would be unsurprising if Pemberton and Shearsmith actually did base this episode on a real-life case with some additional humour thrown in, you know, just for the hell of it.

'The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge' is tightly written with the best is saved till last. Mr Clarke is pricked by his conscience and realises that these witch trials are just farce and finger-pointing based on paranoia.

But it turns out that the joke’s on him, Goody Gadge is actually a witch and Snowflake is her familiar.

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