Series 1, Episode 1
Every day, the team of dedicated social workers in Children's Services at Elm Heath council are faced with government cuts, huge levels of stress-related sick leave, useless temporary staff and an ever increasing client list. And if it isn't the clients, it's the ex-clients. And if not them, it's their private lives that are giving them grief. Welcome to the world of the Damned.
- Tuesday 27th September 2016
- Channel 4
- 30 minutes
Show past repeats
Cast & crew
|Telephone Caller (Voice)
|Telephone Caller (Voice)
|Telephone Caller (Voice)
|Telephone Caller (Voice)
|Anne-Marie (Toddler Woman)
|Amy Jayne (as Amy-Jayne Leigh)
|Director of Photography
|1st Assistant Director
The social work staff meet up for a typical awful office meeting, and Martin gets a hair style makeover from Nat.
Featuring: Jo Brand (Rose Denby), Alan Davies (Al Kavanagh), Himesh Patel (Nitin), Kevin Eldon (Martin Bickerstaff), Georgie Glen (Denise Donnelly), Isy Suttie (Natalie Moore) & Paul Charlton (PC Harris).
Damned, damn it, didn't quite get going. It features Jo Brand, Alan Davies, Kevin Eldon, which should be enough for most, and is a kind of amalgam of Brand's Getting On and The Office. Set in a social work centre.
Much of the first episode had, perforce, to establish scene and characters: the arsewit idiots, the kind idiots and the thudbucket incompetents. Wincingly funny in parts, but the whole has yet to surpass the sum of its parts. Social workers don't exactly need a bad press these days, but Brand might just have pulled off a neat little trick, a la W1A, by getting us through laughter to acknowledge the flawed humanity that inhabits any specific world. There is much hope, though I fear for the moment when it gets labelled in TV Quick or somesuch as a "documentary series".Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 2nd October 2016
Brand is back with another celebratory, respectful, mucky sitcom.Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 28th September 2016
This set-up could easily disintegrate, unless the cast keep working on ways to make us like their unlovable characters. So far, they're giving it everything.Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail, 28th September 2016
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
I was looking forward to Brand's take on our profession and the gallows humour that comes with it but the opening episode left me underwhelmed.Community Care, 28th September 2016
Beautifully bleak new series from Jo Brand and Morwenna Banks about the workings of a children's services department. It hits the ground running in this promising opener with Rose (Brand) stumbling across an old flame on a home visit, Al (Alan Davies), having woman trouble, and Nitin (Himesh Patel) meeting with HR. Isy Suttie, meanwhile, is the temp with a "cheeky sideline" selling hair putty. There's warmth in the comic one-liners, woven into realistic and grim situations.Hannah Verdier, The Guardian, 27th September 2016
This new comedy series is so obviously written by Jo Brand. Even without reading the blurb and the credits you'd be able to tell. Set in a social work department where they run a helpline for troubled service-users, the comedy slowly and subtly shows the petty tensions, frustrations and annoyances of office life, particularly when your tedious office work involves dealing with deeply troubled people.
It's similar - you might say identical - in tone to Brand's recent BBC sitcom, Going Forward, which was also about working in the harassed and undervalued caring sector. So there are no belly laughs. Just gentle little observations and quirks.
The most prominent thing is the cast list, a roll call of comedians like Brand, Alan Davies, Nick Hancock, Morwenna Banks and the furiously annoying Isy Suttie, who seemingly can play only one character, Dobby from Peep Show. And here she is, playing Dobby yet again!Julie McDowall, The National (Scotland), 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
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
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
Unlike Twenty Twelve, W1A and Borderline, this summer's latest fly-on-the-wall mockumentary from Channel 5, there is little humour to be had in the work itself. Other than one line about being "tasked with making streamlined cluster teams", there is little jargonised nonsense to laugh at. But with five more episodes to come, we can only hope there will be more to look forward to.Daisy Wyatt, i Newspaper, 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