A preview of the third series of Paul Abbott’s BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 series, followed by a Q+A with creator + writer Abbott, director Catherine Morshead + cast Joanna Scanlan + Will Mellor. Please note that this session contains spoilers for the series.
1. Bringing heavy topics + humour together in one series
The darker the material gets, the funnier we seem to be allowed to become.
The first series of No Offence dealt with a murderer of girls with Down Syndrome in Manchester + the subsequent series refused to let up the pressure. With such heavy material on rotation, the humour must rise to match it. Giving the viewer a break (while eliciting a laugh that may contrast sharply with the severity of the situation on screen) is arguably the main project of the series.
2. Balancing the two halves of the show
In order to handle both the humour + the gravity of each episode, the writers + director have discovered the best way to deliver comedic lines: slip them in subtly, so they've gone almost before you realise they happened.
It's not that we're setting up gags. It's that they're in there to find.
3. Earning their stripes as a police procedural
We wanted it to appeal to the crime-addicted audience + that's why it had to work well as a procedural despite the fact that what we wanted really was the jet-black comedy bit.
Police procedurals have very specific formulae; the creators of No Offence made it a priority to hit all the right notes in order to create a solid base before sprinkling in comedy you're not sure you should be laughing at. Without a solid procedural core, however, the jokes + their darkness would have nothing to land on.