Remote Control - Saturday May 30, 2015

Joanna Scanlan plays Di Viv Deering in No Offence
Joanna Scanlan plays Di Viv Deering in No Offence
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No offence, but this is great drama

Paul Abbott is one of this country’s best TV writers, with a CV that would be the envy of writers around the world.

From Reckless to Shameless, by way of Clocking Off, Hit and Miss and State of Play, his dramas are thought-provoking, ribald, heart-warming and heart-wrenching and never, ever boring.

His latest creation, No Offence (Channel 4, Tuesdays), might have been the exception to that rule.

On the face of it, this drama – based in Manchester, as many of this Burnley-born writer’s shows are – could have been just another police procedural – humdrum, so-so, all a bit, well, meh.

It has a story arc running through the episodes, while a standalone investigation propels each week’s plot.

So far, so what?

Except this is Paul Abbott, and the overall story involves a killer with an unsual predeliction – the abduction and murder of Down’s Syndrome girls.

As the title suggests, this could almost be calculated to cause offence, yet it doesn’t.

The Down’s characters – and the actors used all have Down’s – are presented as rounded characters, not imprisoned by their learning difficulties, but determined to make their own way in the world – find romance, enjoy a fulfilling social life, forge their own personalities.

That they also fall prey to the evil things in that world is a tragic side-effect.

Their parents have also been portrayed sympathetically. In this week’s episode, the mum of one victim agonised over her decision to encourage her daughter to get out into the world – torn between the desire to protect her loved one, and the desire to let her have some independence.

The police officers investigating the case, led by DI Viv Deering (played by the brilliant Joanna Scanlan) tackle the case with dedication and compassion– notwithstanding Viv’s use of the ‘m-word’.

The dialogue is earthy and laced with humour, not to mention some laugh out loud moments, and the performances are uniformly brilliant.

Maybe the police officers are a little too good to be to true, but as the series reaches its climax, maybe the masks will slip.

Until then, I’d just enjoy the ride, it’s not often you get to enjoy a drama series as good as this. There are three episodes left, and you can catch-up online.