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22nd May 2023

BBC viewers traumatised after contestant’s head explodes in ‘new Lee Mack quiz show’

Charlie Herbert

Lee Mack Inside No 9 episode

Some were more clued up on what they were watching

Oblivious viewers were left shocked last week when a contestant’s head exploded on what at first glance seemed like a new quiz show hosted by Lee Mack.

On Thursday night, viewers tuning into BBC Two were met with an episode a ‘quiz show’ hosted by Mack which pitted three teams of three players against each other.

Those watching attentively will have noticed odd moments and a weird vibe throughout the episode (and those who knew exactly what they were watching will have had a much better idea of what to expect), but it’s very likely that if you tuned in halfway through or only had half an eye on the screen you may have assumed it was a normal episode of a new quiz show.

That would probably be right up until the very end, when a mum gets trapped in a sound-proof box and her head explodes.

Of course, this wasn’t actually a quiz show. It was the latest episode of the macabre anthology series Inside No 9, written and created by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, which saw Lee Mack play himself as he hosted fictional quiz show, ‘3 by 3.’

The episode saw Lee Mack play a fictional version of himself as host of a new quiz show, 3 by 3 (BBC)

Quiz teams, The Three Tenors and Quiztopher Biggins, were knocked out early on, leaving mother and daughter duo Margaret and Catherine Oakwood – played by Gemma Page and Saskia Wakefield respectively – to tackle the final round.

Throughout the show, the dialogue had implied that something was up with the family though.

For example the dad, Stephen (played by James Tucker), left the show early on and never returned.

And the implication throughout the episode seemed to be that the mum and dad had locked up their daughter as an experiment, with Catherine getting every question right despite revealing she had no knowledge of entertainment news.

Mother and daughter duo Margaret (Gemma Page) and Catherine (Saskia Wakefield) reached the final of the ‘quiz show’ (BBC)

The final round saw mum Margaret locked in a soundproof booth as they both had to get the right answers independent of each other.

However, after Margaret failed to get the final question correct, the duo failed to win the big money.

When she tried to leave the booth, Catherine appeared to use some telekinetic abilities to shut the door, before making her mum’s head explode whilst Mack delivered his closing lines to camera.

Cue pandemonium in the studio, Mack running off set, Catherine looking pretty smug now that she was free of her ‘parents’ control, and then the credits rolling.

Even fans of the anthology show were pretty stunned by the gruesome ending (BBC)
The episode finished with Mack running off set before the credits rolled (BBC)

Even fans of Inside No 9 – which is famous for its often dark and shocking humour – were left stunned by the moment, prompting many to wonder how viewers who genuinely thought it was a quiz show might have reacted.

There was a lot of praise for Mack’s performance as well, who has plenty of real-world experience of hosting quiz shows through his time as host of The 1% Club.

The show’s creators really followed through with the pretence of it being a real quiz show though.

On the TV guide for example, it read ‘3 by 3’ instead of ‘Inside No 9’, and they had ever told fans of the show that they would be treated to an episode based on a bus.

So when a quiz show aired, even fans will have been confused.

First airing in 2014, Inside No 9 has amassed a devoted following and received critical acclaim.

Over the course of eight series the show has won a number of awards, including Best Scripted Comedy at the 2021 Baftas and the award for Best Male Comedy Performance for Pemberton at the 2019 Baftas.

All episodes of Inside No 9 are available to watch on BBC iPlayer, with the final episode of the current series airing at 10pm on BBC Two this Thursday (May 25).

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