Tuesday 23 January 2018

No offence? None taken, or at least not so far

No Offence
No Offence

John Boland

Paul Abbott was the man who dreamed up the rude, ribald and politically incorrect Shameless, so when he calls his new drama series No Offence (Channel 4), you're immediately assured that there'll be lots of offence.

And so it turned out in this week's first episode, which began with young policewoman Dinah (pictured) drunkenly pursuing a suspected felon through the streets of Manchester and then fleeing the scene when a passing stag party tour bus decapitated him.

Her boss, an uncouth detective inspector who mixed up her vaginal and breath spray and said of a would-be Lothario that he "couldn't find a clit with a search engine", promptly refused the hapless Dinah a promotion, but you soon became aware that these were coppers who looked out for each other.

The first 20 minutes were largely played for laughs, and so when a plot-line emerged about teenage girls with Down Syndrome being murdered, you weren't sure how you were meant to respond.

In fact, the series is clearly trying to merge the gritty with the comic, and it remains to be seen if it succeeds. But it's played with likeable verve by Elaine Cassidy as Dinah and Joanna Scanlon as her rough-and-ready superior and it certainly merits a further look.

The same channel's hour-long documentary, The Stranger on the Bridge, was intriguing, too, though it also left me feeling a bit bemused.

Jonny Benjamin was a schizophrenic who was about to jump off Waterloo bridge in 2008 until a stranger emerged from the crowd and talked him out of it.

His search for this man ended up in a campaign that apparently went viral, and the film accompanied Jonny on his quest to find his saviour.

This duly happened at the very end with an emotional reunion, but although serious topics were addressed in the run-up, there was something about the whole exercise that seemed manipulative, as if events were being shaped and staged to meet media requirements rather than anything more genuinely meaningful.

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