TV Review: No Offence (Channel 4) – Season One

(Written for Filmoria)


Written by the BAFTA award-winning writer and Shameless creator, Paul Abbott, No Offence is an amusing, creative, and intelligently paced cop crime drama, which gives an original take on the world of the police procedural.

With a fresh, dark comedy approach, the series originally aired on Channel 4 on Tuesday nights at 9pm, and follows a team of detectives from the Manchester Metropolitan Police, focusing on their investigation into the serial murders of girls with Down syndrome.

The tone is set very early on with No Offence, as the opening scene sees a woman in a taxi kick out the catch from her night out, telling him that, “I’d rather have a wank.” Not long after the woman begins chasing a wanted criminal, only to chase him into the middle of a road where a bus runs over his head. Within the first 10 minutes, you know exactly what kind of comedy this is: it’s a little brutal, it’s not shy of a bit of gore, it’s very serious without taking itself too seriously, and it’s a little mocking, but it won’t – or it will at least try not to – cause offence (hence the title!).

No offence, but… it’s actually a pretty entertaining series; one I wasn’t too sure of at the start, but one that’s very easy to get into because of the likeable cast and excellently written script.

The leading cast of detectives are exceptional, and it’s castings like this one which make Channel 4’s series stand out above the rest. Joanna Scanlan (Stardust) takes the lead as D.I. Vivenne Deering, a cast-iron cop who knows how to handle her team. Elaine Cassidy (The Others) takes support as D.C. Dinah Kowalska, a strong but impulsive member of the team trying to earn a promotion, alongside Alexandra Roach, Will Mellor, Julie Clerehugh, Paul Ritter, Colin Salmon, Saira Choudhry, Neet Mohan, Tom Varey, and Ste Johnson.

Scanlan makes a fantastic D.I. to be in charge of the rest of the detectives. As a larger lady with a lot of confidence, Scanlan knows how to throw her weight around to get what’s wanted of those around her, but also how to throw a lot of humour into the mix. She really brings out the best of the other detectives, showing a great chemistry between them all as we get to see every personal clash, every bit of banter, and how a team like this work together, which is exactly what you want from a series like this.

There’s an excellent team of writers behind the series, too, including Abbott himself, Paul Tomalin, Jack Lothian, and Mark Greig. The script has the same quality that Shameless did: it’s dark but funny, without any cheap gags or cringe-worthy larks, and it’s filthy but not too crude. Each of these qualities are used to the perfect amount, keeping you entertained, engaged in the crime, and interested in the characters all at the same time.

It’s a difficult balance to get right, especially when dealing with a premise around a killer who goes after girls with Down syndrome. But the themes are all handled with a great care, being funny without being offensive, and being sensitive without being patronising.

Most of all, No Offence is worth watching for the excellent comedy, as it doesn’t try too hard to be funny, and instead gives you eight episodes full of original and fresh humour.

D.I. Viv Deering (Joanna Scanlan) is scathing in her leadership of a team of detectives at the Manchester Metropolitan Police. D.C. Dinah Kowalski (Elaine Cassidy) misses out on a promotion to D.S. due to a mistake in her professionalism, but she proceeds to uncover a link between a murder, the body of a drowned woman and the disappearance of a third girl. The team soon realise someone is killing Down syndrome girls across Manchester, and, while negotiating different cases, they attempt to solve the case as more girls come into danger.

The DVD consists of 8 episodes, and includes the following extras:

  • Three exclusive video featurettes:
    – ‘An exclusive interview with Paul Abbott’
    – ‘Acting with Down Syndrome’
    – ‘Meet The Cast’
  • An extended interview with the show’s star Joanna Scanlan
  • Deleted scenes

No Offence is set to be released on DVD on 10th August, and is available for Digital Download now.

The series will also be returning for a second series, which will start shooting at the beginning of 2016.

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