They’re responsible for some of TV’s darkest creations, from the grotesque villagers in The League Of Gentlemen to a hook-handed clown and a murderous man-child in Psychoville.

Now Blackburn-born Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith are back with a new BBC Two comedy series Inside No. 9, which promises to be just as deliciously macabre.

Written by and starring the pair, the show consists of six standalone stories about the peculiar goings-on at houses with the same door number.

With genres ranging from gothic horror to psychological thriller, the series is, as Shearsmith promises, “undiluted us”.

So it comes as a surprise to meet the talented duo and discover they seem really rather normal.

Life outside work also sounds fairly typical for the pair, who met at college and went on to form The League Of Gentlemen with friends Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson.

“We have lunch a lot. We both have kids in the same school and we live very close to each other [in North London], so we see each other pretty much all the time,” says Pemberton, who has three children – Lucas, 13, Madeleine, 11, and Adam, 8 – with partner Alison.

But the 46-year-old, who will star alongside Sarah Lancashire in new BBC One crime thriller Happy Valley, soon admits that, a bit like the homes in Inside No. 9, things aren’t completely average in his household.

“I’ve got three severed heads in my study which we used in Psychoville. One is my face and head-carved into a pumpkin, which is quite horrible,” he says. “The kids take it in their stride really. That’s what their dad does.”

Pemberton’s children are yet to watch his darker work, while Shearsmith, 44, is also protective of his children, Danny, 9, and Holly, 11, with wife Jane.

“I’m quite puritanical – they’ve not seen anything I’ve done, apart from Horrible Histories. They know I do weird things. I think they’ve seen some pictures of League Of Gentlemen, but they haven’t watched it yet.

“They’ll have a treat, a back catalogue when they’re old enough. When they’re about 25,” he laughs.

Pemberton adds: “When I was 13, I’d watched [horror films] I Spit On Your Grave and The Exorcist. There wasn’t the same control as now, parents didn’t know what you were doing. You’d go down to the video library and get whatever you want.

“We’re a lot more aware of what our kids are doing, and that’s a good thing. But at the end of the day, we watched all that stuff.”

“And we turned out all right,” adds Shearsmith.

In fact, it was their spine-tingling childhood viewing which provided the inspiration for anthology series Inside No. 9.

“It used to be such fun to watch Tales Of The Unexpected or Hammer House Of Horror and just get a one-off story,” Shearsmith says.

The series boasts a stellar cast with appearances from veteran actor Timothy West, Bond star Helen McCrory and Hollywood darling Gemma Arterton.

Episode one sees an eclectic bunch of party-goers play the children’s game Sardines. As guests step one by one into an old wardrobe, the atmosphere gets more claustrophobic – particularly when one foul-smelling guest, Stinky John (played by comedy actor Marc Wootton), clambers in.

There is, as can be expected from this duo, a chilling twist at the end of the half-hour episode.

The rest of the series is also set to be full of surprises, with unlucky cat burglars, odd siblings living in a refrigerated gothic mansion, and a blood-soaked actor’s dressing room.