Damned is a new sitcom about social workers who are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. In reality, they can never get a break. Too much is expected from them, and the moment something goes wrong, the press jump on them.
So far, I’ve seen the first two episodes, and both have begun with various calls coming in from the public including one-liners such as “What’s the alcohol allowance for a 12-year-old?” and “You’ve taken all the kids into care. Can you take the rabbit as well?”
There’s some cringe-comedy and plenty of sarcasm as the staff deal with their clients as well as their own lives being in a mess. For example, in the first episode, Al (Alan Davies) is always hassled by his off-screen girlfriend, while Rose (Jo Brand) hates her ex-husband, Lee (Nick Hancock). Meanwhile, ever-returning temp Nat (Isy Suttie) is back again, but she refers to temps as “Interim workers. We’re like sex workers but without the intercourse”
Elsewhere, Ingrid (Morwenna Banks) is having an operation tomorrow “by which time I’ll no longer be a woman”. Nitin (Himesh Patel): “Are you transitioning?”, to which comes the response, “Hysterectomy(!)”
And when they have a regular meeting which involves a policeman sitting in to give a cop’s angle, Al whispers to Rose in a discussion about biscuits: “He’s got three chocolate fingers under his helmet”, she replies: “Ooh, that’s a clever trick(!)”
So, you get an idea of the flavour of the humour, and they even try to cram a minor plotline in there, with Nitin forced by his inappropriately bossy boss Denise (Georgie Glen) to write a report, spying on all his colleagues to work out who’s goofing off all day.
The comedy is hit and miss, but it’s a bit uneven in the way that there’s some light-hearted comedy in the office, and then when the cast have to do home visits, such as Rose dropping in on down-at-heel Rhona (Tilly Vosburgh), it leans in the direction of drama, so it’s an odd mix. The drama is reminiscent of Getting On, but the sarcastic comedy doesn’t hit the high mark of that show.
And while watching this, there was an element of “I’ve seen something like this before…”, and I have – it was originally a pilot on Sky Arts in 2014. Not sure how it’s crossed over to Channel 4, but anyway.
Overall, Damned is certainly worth watching, but it didn’t feel like it grabbed me as much as I was hoping for.
Damned begins tonight on Channel 4 at 10pm, and isn’t yet available to pre-order Blu-ray or DVD, but can be seen on All 4 after broadcast. Also, click on the top image for the full-size version.
The Sky Arts pilot trailer is below, as I can’t find one on Channel 4’s site.
Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Producer: Claire Whalley
Creators/Writers: Jo Brand, Morwenna Banks and Will Smith
Rose: Jo Brand
Al: Alan Davies
Martin: Kevin Eldon
Denise: Georgie Glen
Nitin: Himesh Patel
Nat: Isy Suttie
Ingrid: Morwenna Banks
Anne-Marie: Aisling Bea
PC Harris: Paul Charlton
Andy: James Duke
Lee: Nick Hancock
Cass: Sara Powell
Rhona Jones: Tilly Vosburgh
Rose’s children: Zaak Conway, Amy-Jayne Leigh and Sophie Sanderson
Telephone voices: Mandeep Dhillon, Rasmus Hardiker, London Hughes and Ellie White
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.