No Offence (2018)
‘It’s a full moon tonight and I’ve got my knickers on back to front,’ said DI Viv Deering (the peerless Joanna Scanlan) as she arrived at a mayoral hustings being targeted by a far-right hate mob. ‘They’re both usually bad omens.’
Tragically, her instinct proved right, and within 10 minutes her loyal DS – the mousy, earnest Joy Freers (Alexandra Roach) – lay bleeding out in the car park. Then, on the way to the hospital, the ambulance’s sirens fell suddenly, horribly silent.
It was a devastating opening to the third series of Paul Abbott’s boisterous police drama, which delights in lifting up rocks to expose the dark underbelly of modern Britain, then hosing it down with gallons of scabrous gallows humour.
The twanging, steel guitar score is no accident: Abbot’s Manchester is nothing less than a Wild West frontier town, and Viv its swaggering sheriff. She’s hilariously blunt, with a serious attitude problem when it comes to authority: ‘You’re either a spook, Special Branch or work experience – which is it?’ she taunted one barely shaving chief inspector.
She’s also fierce, loyal, compassionate – and a brilliant copper. ‘You take your grief, your shock, your anger and you turn it into fuel,’ she ordered her thunderstruck team, including impulsive DC Dinah Kowalska (Elaine Cassidy) and Paul Ritter’s gloriously potty-mouthed forensics genius Randolph Miller.
This latest run is more unflinching than ever in its exploration of society’s faultlines, tapping into the current toxic political climate, with characters clearly inspired by Stephen ‘Tommy Robinson’ Yaxley-Lennon and the late Jo Cox. Paul Tomalin’s script even found room for an astute commentary on public-private finance initiatives, alongside the usual blackly comic scenes of soiled underpants, gangrenous feet and a bride-to-be whose sister had bitten her finger off (it’s quite a… visceral show).
You suspect Joy’s killers may also have bitten off more than they can chew. Because Viv Deering is on the warpath, and she’s only got one thing in mind: ‘Stringing people up by the balls from here ‘til doomsday.’ Oh how we’ve missed her.
Adapted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Luke Jennings’ novel, this blackly comic thriller is stylish, subversive and utterly preposterous. Sandra Oh is hilarious as Eve, a bored MI5 pen-pusher and wannabe spy, while Jodie Comer eats up her role as Villanelle, a sleek, sadistic assassin who scales chateau walls in denim cut-offs before plunging a hairpin into her victim’s eye. It’s hard to escape the impression the show revels in its icky violence almost as much as its loopy antagonist. But it’s certainly different.
A Discovery of Witches
Sky’s new supernatural caper sees a reluctant witch (played by genre screen queen Teresa Palmer) forced into an uneasy alliance with Matthew Goode’s chiselled vampire among the dreaming spires of Oxford. Post-Potter, Twilight, True Blood et al, it all feels a bit – ahem – familiar (hero’s parents murdered for their magic powers? Check. Charismatic vampire struggles to control his bloodlust? Check). But it’s handsomely made – Oxford on a misty autumnal equinox looks **ravishing** – with a strong ensemble cast.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, September 20, 2018
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