No Offence, Series 2, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews
No Offence, Series 2, Channel 4
No Offence, Series 2, Channel 4
Welcome return of Paul Abbott's comedy drama about gobby cops
We're back at Friday Street, the crumbling cop shop on the wrong side of Manchester, where DI Viv Deering marshals her squad of anarchic misfits to fight crime. Paul Abbott's rude but not crude police comedy drama was a great hit first time round and managed to be riotously unPC while unravelling a complicated serial murder case. And, as with the late, great Cagney and Lacey, some of the best scenes were in the ladies' loo; two of Deering's closest aides are women (played by Elaine Cassidy and Alexandra Roach).
At the end of the first series we learned that Deering's husband was the killer and was himself killed, and the reason for his murder covered up – so her colleagues think she is a grieving widow. The second series began with the squad in attendance at the funeral of the teenage son of a notorious gangster. As the newly returned-to-work Deering (Joanna Scanlan) pointed out in typically pithy style, a criminal funeral will “bring out the top brass from the arse end of the universe”. She has a way with words, does Viv.
Things didn't go according to plan, of course, but not in the way fans of crime drama might have expected. It wasn't the father of the deceased – handcuffed and on release from prison – who caused any upset (I was expecting him to make a dash for it). No, nothing so lazy in Abbott-world; the coffin blew up, he was killed, and his estranged wife (mother of the dead teenager) turned out to be the feared gang leader, Nora Attah (Rakie Ayola). No one could accuse Abbott of not creating juicy roles for women, and indeed another promising addition to this series is Deering's new boss, DCI Christine Lickberg (Sarah Solemani, pictured above), as by-the-book as Deering is off-the-page. We can look forward to Deering trying to outwit Lickberg where going by the rules is concerned.
Attah's gang is Nigerian, involved in a turf war with an Irish gang led by the ailing Earl Kennedy, whose less than stable son, Jacky, is only too keen to take over. And so the scene is set for six more weeks in which Viv and Co have to save Manchester from all-out gang war, plus a bit of internecine fighting for good measure.
Abbott's script had lots of hooting lines
There was also a wonderfully daft subplot involving the crematorium's directors, unpaid gas bills and illegal burials in last night's opener, which provided not only much of the episode's dark humour but the opportunity for the forensics expert on Deering's team, Miller (Paul Ritter, excellent as usual) to lovingly run through the juicily gory body parts he had unearthed.
Director Catherine Morshead kept things going at breakneck speed (dispensing with any verisimilitude about real police procedure and the usual snail-like grind of detective work), and Abbott's script had lots of hooting lines. But there was subtlety at play too, and there has to be; Deering is a big personality and even in Scanlan's expert hands could over-dominate the series.
But they make this straight-talking and confident woman believably tough, yet also maternal and vulnerable – and only the audience (and one member of her team) know the truth about her husband's death. We absolutely believe the dedication her team have for her – as Will Mellor's DC Tanner tells her: “It's good to have you back.” I'll second that.
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