No Offence, episode 2, TV review: Shameless creator serves up surprisingly syrupy show that takes no prisoners

Our TV critic struggles to work out what No Offence is meant to be

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The Independent Culture

I don’t know what No Offence is. Sorry, there it is. I have no idea what it is or what it’s supposed to be or what it’s going to turn into. That’s not to say that there aren’t brilliant aspects to Paul ‘Shameless’ Abbott’s cop comedy/drama/thing but the curate is definitely having his egg and eating it.

Take Joanna Scanlan’s tough-as-old-boots DI Vivienne Deering. When she’s naked as the day she was born and throttling a Polish masseuse for trying to give her a ‘happy ending’ while spouting lines like ‘Listen, Aeroflot… I’ll have you sex trafficked by Albanians’, she’s a mildly terrifying delight (a spin-off show starring DI Deering and Raised By Wolves’ Della out on the lash is surely a must, Channel 4 execs). However, for every highly quotable one liner, Scanlan is lumbered with an equal weight of mawkish ‘chin up, kidda’ dialogue.

For a show that takes no prisoners it’s surprisingly syrupy. When it steers clear of ‘bloody decent copper just trying to do the right thing in this bloody world’ territory, it’s good stuff. While I’m finding the continued storyline concentrating on a serial killer who’s going around drowning girls with Downs Syndrome a bit po-faced (just ruddy, bloody decent bloody cops who are just trying their bloody best), tonight’s drugs lab bust was perfect.

 

It was also surprisingly educational, with Paul Ritter’s crumpled forensics expert Randolph (star of the show so far) explaining that every drug lab worth its salt has a ‘s**t button’. This, once pressed, will immediately flush the majority of incriminating evidence down the loo (there’s an awful lot that’s toilet-based in No Offence, from the humour to most of the staff meetings), should the Old Bill come knocking. The end result was a lot of drugs seized, one dealer nabbed and, thanks to an unfortunate accident, a lot of very high police officers.

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Not everyone likes the puerile jokes and uneven tone of No Offence

It’s fair to say that No Offence is splitting the room at the moment, with some delighting in its mix of close to the bone humour and police procedural high jinks, and others sighing huffily at its puerile jokes and uneven tone.

It’s certainly a big ask for an audience to buy the fact that a Detective Constable can get away with inviting a vital witness in a murder case to live with them (while the case is ongoing), and at the same time asking us to believe that a vein of serious police drama runs through the whole piece. Line of Duty with fart jokes, I can take. What looks and smells like a lack of believability in police procedure, I can’t.

Still, when it’s good, it’s very good. If only I could work out what No Offence is supposed to be.

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