No Offence review – Paul Abbott’s rude but not crude un-PC cop show

There seem to be no no-go areas for this vibrant, rich and warm cop comedy, but the title gathers irony like a snowball as the show rolls on

Dinah is on the way home from a night out with her fella. He’s being a twat, so she kicks him out of the taxi. “I’d rather have a wank,” she says, setting the tone early. Hang on though, because here, strolling across the road, is a murder suspect. Dinah – DC Dinah Kowalska – loses her heels, gives chase. It looks like she’s going to lose him, too, but oops, he trips and falls in the road. A bus – stag-do coach it turns out – runs over his head, splat like a jam doughnut. Nooo, hahaha, I mean eurgh.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Paul “Shameless” (plus loads more, of course) Abbott’s comedy cop drama No Offence (Channel 4); now I’m finding out. I guess when people say “no offence” it’s usually followed by “but” and something rude or offensive, and Mr Abbott is no exception.

And so it goes on – hahaha, nooo, eurgh, hahaha, not always in that order. To the job then, a refreshingly un-PC Manchester cop shop, where DC Dinah’s boss is DI Vivienne Deering (the very ace Joanna Scanlan), who’s freshening up with sprays – both breath and down there. But she mixes them up, of course ... nooo, eurgh, hahaha, give us a kiss, Detective Inspector. DI Deering should nick herself, for stealing the show. Her best line: “They couldn’t find a clit without a search engine.” Abbott has always had an eye for an excellent lady part, so to speak.

The toilet is the place where most of the important stuff takes place – meetings, humour, etc – though for a laugh they go down to the mortuary, where a Chinese woman with a history of bestiality is on the slab, with a small dog stuck down her throat after a car accident. Interesting x-ray.

Among all the fun there is actually a case, and a plot. Young women with Down’s syndrome (no, there are no no-go areas for No Offence) are going missing and getting murdered; three so far. Actually two; the third, Cathy, hasn’t got Down’s – “not a mong”, in DI VD’s words. But she was riding up front in a double-decker bus that did an emergency stop, and she ended up with fractures and swellings that DC Dinah mistook for an extra copy of chromosome 21. And if Dinah can make the mistake, who’s to say a serial killer can’t, too?

Anywhere else that No Offence – a title that gathers irony like a snowball as the show rolls on – isn’t afraid to go, on top of masturbation, the toilet, up here, down there, clits, Down’s, death by dog? Well, Deering calls her own boss, Detective Superintendent Darren Mclaren, “Obama”, which I believe has less to do with him being the boss and more to do with the colour of his skin. So throw race in there too, why not. To be fair to Deering, there is something of BO about D/Supt DM; he certainly seems to think he’s Potus anyway. “Stand these people down,” he says, whenever he wants to reduce the number of staff on a case.

No Offence is bold and rude but not crude. Dark certainly, but also – as you’d expect from Abbott – vibrant, warm, rich and real. The one thing I’m not convinced by is a tiny one: the green tiles. To me, they say more public convenience, or perhaps some kind of municipal retro-metro chic, than police station. It wouldn’t matter if they didn’t get so much attention from the person pointing the camera ... It really doesn’t matter actually, and the toilet, as I said, is central to No Offence, and to its humour. Hilarious and fabulous, then; count me very much in.

Ruth Goodman! The history lady! Again! This time on Inside the Factory: How Our Favourite Foods are Made (BBC2). I think someone has passed a law stating that all factual television must contain an educational historical element, which shall be Ruth Goodman showing us how they did it in the Victorian era. How they did bread in this case.

Cherry Healey also features, going around the nation’s kitchens, finding out our modern daily bread habits. But the main event is Gregg Wallace on a factory visit. I know! Who thought that was a good idea for television? I don’t care if it’s the biggest bakery in Britain, or how many million muffins they make, it’s still a bloody factory visit with Gregg bloody Wallace.

Go on, put your own bald loaf into that slicer. It would certainly top the usual mouse-in-my-crisps/locust-in-my-salad stories. Imagine: I opened my loaf of Kingsmill and found Gregg Wallace’s head, thickly sliced.

Sam Wollaston

The GuardianTramp

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