The creator of Shameless, State of Play and Clocking Off again brings to life a family of larger-than life characters with real-life dilemmas. Channel 4's No Offence is an addictive and blackly funny police procedural.

No one can deliver outrageously dark humour, high-stakes drama, intricate storylines and warmhearted observations on the human condition quite like Paul Abbott. Like his earlier shows, No Offence is populated by an immediately recognisable and unforgettable cast of acutely observed personalities, here employed as officers on the frontline.

Joanna Scanlan’s DI Viviene Deering is an unstoppable powerhouse with Miss Piggy looks and attitude who keeps her team in check and on their game with a winning mix of sharp insight, rule bending, foul-mouthed bonhomie and outright bullying. Her go-to girls are Elaine Cassidy’s DC Dinah Kowalska and Alexandra Roach’s DS Joy Freers, old schoolmates with contrasting styles. Kowalska is all-action impulsive, while Freers is cautious and thoughtful. Despite some professional antagonism – in the first episode Kowalska is overlooked as Freers is upgraded to sergeant – their long-term bond is unbreakable, and they form a formidable partnership.

No Offence
Image via Channel 4

In the presence of such forceful women, the men on the team tend to take a back seat. As Deering’s supposed superior, DS Darren Maclaren (Colin Salmon) is frequently given the runaround, but he too can be disarmingly two-faced as he casts aside his ‘good cop’ training to plot and manipulate like a master politician. On a level with Kowalska is Will Mellor’s driven, steady and incorruptible DC Spike Tanner, while seen-it-all forensics expert Randolph Miller (Paul Ritter) is a maverick borderline alcoholic who finds humour – and critical evidence – in the darkest places.

Manchester has never looked uglier as the team investigates the city’s nastiest villains, uncovering alarming links between a deadly drug and prostitution ring, an arson attack, the trading of human organs, and the serial murders of young girls with Down’s Syndrome. The underbelly of broken Britain is laid bare, but with irresistible courage and big laughs. Small wonder that Channel 4 commissioned a new 8-part series at the end of the first season’s recent run. Pacy, provocative, and full of fun.

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