Even in a market saturated with cop shows, it’s a most welcome return for DI Viv Deering and the Friday Street team, here to make your viewing schedule that bit grittier and more northern, with so many zingers it’s a struggle to keep up. Paul Abbot’s sharp script throws down the gauntlet to lesser tv writers everywhere.
Our hero is back to work after the horrific death of her husband at the end of Series 1. Viv, played by supremely talented Joanna Scanlan is glorious, and totally unfazed. She’s at a funeral when what could have been a lethal a bomb goes off but takes it all in her stride, as you’d expect. She jumps in the shower back at the police station and stand there in front of her colleagues proudly naked with big thighs and cellulite. This makes me want to whip off my dressing gown and cheer. Viv is sexy and powerful and totally unashamed.It’s Botticelli’s Birth of Venus only with a bright yellow towel instead of long ginger locks.
The body packed with explosives fortunately wasn’t in the coffin, so the funeral goers survived. The big bang reveals a dodgy crematorium, burying the bodies instead of popping them in the oven. Someone’s not been paying the gas bill. Miller (Paul Ritter) who sweetly describes himself as a bi-polar bear, ends up dealing with the “Hieronymus Bosch job” (say it out loud) ; elbows deep in the grizzly body parts violently displaced by the bomb. He’s in his element.
The funeral was targeted because it was for the son of a notorious Manchester gangster family. These are the Nigerians, headed up by Nora Attah (Rackie Ayola), another very powerful woman and a foil to Viv. They are familiar with each other and their past works, on both sides of the thin blue line. Nora is grieving for her son who committed suicide. It’s easier for her to claim murder and seek revenge, despite what her family may want. She’s struggling with this, and it’s not about to get any easier with the Irish Kennedy’s showing up to pay their respects. Gangster families in Manchester are thriving. I love that I share their surname, although they look far too suave and macho to be related to me.
Alongside the beginnings of gang warfare, the team have a new boss to deal with. DS Lickberg is played by Sarah Solemani, almost unrecognisable as a serious and professional detective. She’s not likely to crack a smile any time soon. Solemani is by now about as far from Him and Her as you can possibly get and is another name to add to the growing list of comedy actors who do fantastic work in dramas.
Abbot is no meanie. The great lines are shared around, a feature that was a joy in the last series. On trying to find identities for the corpses buried in the crem PC Thompson says “Twenty bodies, all Mancs. One of them is bound to have a record”. It’s a particularly revolting morgue scene when Millar presents a head with a shovel in it, sitting in a bucket. Mind you, this is the second head we’ve seen in an hour with a blunt metal object in it. Nothing out of the ordinary for No Offence. Just one of those days.
The fantastic Irish-style storming theme tune sets the pace. Everything happens at speed; there’s no pause for breath in this episode and the viewer just has to cling on and hope it all starts to make sense. The wonky and disorienting camera angles add to the chaos and confusion. But Viv ploughs a course straight through. She’s going to receive her achievement award, and deftly negotiates high speed blues-and-twos mascara application.
But as those who watched Series 1 know (and if you didn’t, you must!) Viv shares a secret with Dinah and Joy about her husband’s death. It looks like we’re in for increasingly desperate attempts to keep it buried. Will her team continue to protect her? Can she keep the show on the road? Will confidence and sheer force of personality be enough to see her through? I can’t wait to find out.
No Offence Series 1 and 2 is available on All 4 right now. Fantastic!