Damned is a rare achievement: noble in his depiction of human weakness, soaringly ambitious while trapped in humdrum surroundings, and deeply empathic in prising laughs from desperate circumstances.Gabriel Tate, The Telegraph, 14th February 2018
Damned is the third comedy drama in what could be termed Jo Brand's social/healthcare triptych (after Getting On, set in a geriatric hospital ward, and Going Forward, in which she appeared as care-home worker); Damned, in which she also stars, is set in a child protection social services unit.
Co-created with Morwenna Banks (who appears as co-worker Ingrid), Damned follows in Getting On and Going Forward's tracks by being low-key, dark-humoured and full of throwaway lines, but - on the evidence of last-night's opening episode (of six), has yet to reach the former's superb heights of pathos and bathos.
The opener was essentially an office comedy, with the social services aspect merely a faint hum in the background. The people staffing this department alongside Brand and Alan Davies as caring and care-worn social workers Rose and Al would be recognisable in any workplace; Ingrid, telling everyone about her upcoming hysterectomy, ditzy temp Nat (Isy Suttie) - "they call us interim workers now" - well-meaning busybody Martin (Kevin Eldon); office snitch Nitin (Himesh Patel) and manager Denise (Georgie Glen), fluent in management-speak, as she has been "tasked with" creating "streamlined cluster teams".
Add to the mix Aisling Bea's single mother, who has a stalkery crush on Al, and Rose's waste-of-space ex (Nick Hancock), and there are any number of permutations to be worked. The writers certainly nailed the irritations of office life - broken lifts and out-of-order loos, incomprehensible phone systems and smelly communal fridges - but there was very little in the way of social commentary or bittersweet comedy.
It's early days, though, and it could be that Brand, Banks and co-writer Will Smith are softening us up for some comedy with a real emotional punch, glimpses of which we saw only very late in the first episode, when Rose came into contact with an old flame, whose family is now mired in ill health and drug abuse. I certainly hope so as the performances, perhaps needless to say with such a talented cast, were wonderful.Veronica Lee, The Arts Desk, 28th September 2016
Damned was originally commissioned as a one-off by Sky Arts, who declined to order a full series, enabling Channel 4 to snatch it. Sky won't be kicking themselves just yet. Damned was warm and well-observed but it should have been scabrously funny. Like most sitcoms, it will surely improve over its six-episode run as characters grow and the script loosens up. Until then, its case notes read "promising but more jokes required".Michael Hogan, The Telegraph, 27th September 2016
Ultimately I feel that Channel 4 have struck gold with Damned and airing it directly after the equally brilliant National Treasure means that I know which channel I'll be tuning into every Tuesday night.Matt, The Custard TV, 27th September 2016
The world, inspired by Brand's mother's lifetime career in social work, seems utterly genuine - thanks largely to that central friendship between Al and Rose, both robust characters with difficult lives and a dry sense of humour, which gives the show a warm heart.Steve Bennett, Chortle, 27th September 2016
Not wall-to-wall laughs but then it isn't meant to be because life isn't like that. But this is definitely a comedy. There are a lot more gags here than I've ever come across working in offices, some excellent performances and a cameo from rising star Aisling Bea. Looks good to me.Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 22nd September 2016