Not Safe For Work, TV review: Zawe Ashton's 'dramedy' persuades us there's light at the end of this gloomy pathway

The script sometimes felt not just glum, but underpowered

Click to follow

Having bossed Fresh Meat as Vod, the great Zawe Ashton bosses Channel 4's new comedy drama Not Safe For Work as civil servant Katherine.

In last night's opening episode we met Katherine as she was unceremoniously informed of a job transfer, while still reeling from her recent divorce. She'd been relocated to Northampton to work at the "Immigration Pathway", an office described as "a dumping ground for the worst staff from every team". So, all in all, a very bad day.

Katherine doesn't have Vod's distinctive deep voice or dress sense, but the two characters do share a sort of perma-hungover cool. Except that while Vod used her God-given charisma to successfully navigate the undergrad world, Katherine has found that donning a pair of Ray-Bans isn't enough to escape the tedium, frustration and absurdity of office life.

All this misery was personified by her new boss and former underling Danny (Sacha Dhawan, on great form), who began his working day slumped in a ketamine-induced stupor on the office front steps, and continued it by playing video games at his desk and saying things like "How can I facilitate you out, mate?" to colleagues.

This wasn't the summery viewing we'd expect TV to be laying on in July, and Not Safe For Work's script did sometimes feel not just glum, but underpowered. As with other recent Channel 4 efforts in the "dramedy" genre (No Offence, Babylon) it can be hard to shake the suspicion that this isn't just a way to sneak a short-on-laughs sitcom on to the schedules.

Fortunately, Ashton and Dhawan are both talented enough to persuade us to stick around long enough to see where this "pathway" leads.

Comments