We’re on the set of the third series of Channel 4’s hit crime drama No Offence. Chatting with key cast about the upcoming run.
When Luke, our hallowed leader of Custard based television messaged me way back in January asking if I’d be able to travel to Manchester shortly and do something for the website I tentatively replied with a lame “not sure, it’s quite short notice and far away”. When he came back with the words “No Offence Series 3 press day” I literally peppered my private bits with breath spray and in a menacing Viv tone uttered “I’ll sort it. Count me in sugar tits.”
For those not familiar with Paul Abbott’s crime drama, I suggest quickly catching up on All4 but how to sum it up up a paragraph? It’s a fast-paced, dramatic, funny, inappropriate, sweary crime drama led by the magnificent Detective Inspector Viv Deering. A woman who would happily waltz into Gene Hunt’s kingdom and play Queen of the jungle. Written by the celebrated Paul Abbott (Shameless, Clocking Off) the dialogue is an electric mix of dark humour, unique insults and even, would you believe, some stuff about policing. In amongst all the madness, there is no desire to shy away from serious subject matters either. The first series focused on the murders of women with Down’s Syndrome and the second had nods towards child trafficking. For the forthcoming series the show is not only about to get political but very current as it focuses on a far-right group.
Unluckily for me, my visit to the set coincides with the arrival of ‘The Beast from the East’ It was ruddy cold!. So, on an overcast winter’s day in a far-flung corner of Rochdale at a temporary unit base might not be the most glamorous location but its a perfectly apt one because it felt so very No Offence. Luckily, most of the main cast are in attendance today and the first arrival is the marvellous Elaine Cassidy who plays DC Dinah Kowalska.
This morning Elaine is dressed in a flowery dress which we’re assured is not a major tonal shift in her character’s development and is indeed her own garb. Thank goodness for that, we don’t want Dinah to be summery and cheerful! She is someone who on screen cuts an intense figure, always dressed in black and deeply ambitious about the job she loves. In the fifteen episodes so far she has certainly got herself into a few scrapes but her good heart is always what puts her there.
In keeping with previous series openers, the third instalment begins with big shocks. Run over by the bus? Bomb explosion in a crematorium? That’s nothing compared what’s in store this time round. “It’s a personal journey for everybody in Friday Street, as always the job means so much to all of them. They always want to get a result” Elaine explains “Dennis Caddy (???) is the head of a far-right group called Albion and they know he’s involved at the beginning of the series. It’s about trying to take down Albion but in doing that they find out it’s not as straightforward as they initially thought. No case ever is. There are other people who are in the limelight in Manchester, who have influential jobs and it starts to get quite.. incestuous as to who is in whose pockets. There’s a politician (played by Lisa Mcgrillis) who, when I was reading it I found quite an attractive character because she’s really ambitious and she’s come from nowt and its through her hard work and her tenacity that she wants to climb the ladder. She wants to get to the top and that is to become the Mayor of Manchester”.
What does series three offer for Dinah? “Dinah’s personal journey has comparisons to series one. This case is kind of similar to year one because there is a personal connection to wanting to get a result, not just caring about the job and being married to it. There’s more at stake, there’s an emotional drive to what keeps her going. You really see Friday Street pull together as a team as they always do. They get tighter when things get tougher”.
No Offence as a show hits fast and moves faster, the storylines operate with a blink and you miss it policy. The new run offers new blood for fans to fall for. “There are a few new characters who I think will be really entertaining for the audience and that’s fun from Dinah’s point of view, to see whether she likes them. Dinah hates the establishment which is an oxymoron. Viv’s probably the only boss she’ll accept so she’s really protective of Viv. It’ll take her longer to thaw out because there’s a new DCI that comes in” (Marilyn Merchant played by Claire Rushbrook).
Is Dinah still getting herself into terrible situations and thriving on impulse like she used to? “I don’t think she’s got it that wrong this year, like in year two with Norah Attah where the whole thing was recorded and..” Elaine pulls a concerned face, “..the chasing someone under a bus! There’s not really been the time for her to cock up as the stakes are too high”.
Elaine won’t just find her name in the credits once this time around because she’s also an associate producer for this third series. “If I have a question about a scene or a suggestion for little changes if I think that it’s right for Dinah because a writer won’t know her as well as I do. For instance, she never calls Viv ma’am which she should do but she never did that in year one so whenever they write in “ma’am” I always just cross it out and go “LOOK!” Viv is like the mum but they’re also best friends but there’s also the respect that she is the boss. Ma’am could be anyone so she saves that for DCI Merchant who she doesn’t like! Then there’s Nigel Lindsay (Victoria, Safe) who plays Terry Taylor but everyone calls him Terry-dactyl and Dinah doesn’t like him. There are loads of people she doesn’t like! I think she doesn’t like new people either. She’s protective of Viv.”
Does the dynamic change at all between Dinah and her boss? “They’ve always been close so there’s no animosity. They always know when to challenge each other but a lot of the time they’re on the same wavelength. When it comes policing they do go off the book whereas Joy (Alexandra Roach) always does it by the book so they are more maverick in that way.”
This afternoon Elaine is shooting a scene in Rochdale town hall but is it easy to adjust from her natural lilting Irish tones to Mancunian? “If I’m doing a full day filming I always try to get a little bit of a sleep in because that’s always the first thing to go, its sort of like exercise as you’re using your mouth in a completely different way so it’s like doing a yoga with my mouth. By the end of the day you start slurring your words“. Elaine leaves to change into clothes more fitting with the season and perfect her northern brogue for her afternoon of filming. Gone will be the bright dress and on will come that famous leather jacket so at least she will be warmer. Did I mention it’s cold up north?
No Offence returns Thursday 13th September 9.00pm on Channel 4