Highly-strung Trish is the manager of the Job Centre and she faces a daily struggle to, well, manage.
Not long returned from a catastrophic breakdown, Trish flits about with a nervous energy and grating determination to see the positive in everything.
In the throes of the messy divorce, she leans heavily on reluctant colleague Karl, but is slowly becoming more and more confident and independent again.
Karl is pretty fed up with the direction his life's taken. Three years at art college got him nothing but a twenty grand student loan and a clip-on tie.
However, his position at the job centre has at least allowed him to meet Natalie, the love of his life.
Karl relies on extended toilet breaks and a secret biscuit drawer to get him through his nine to five, but what he can't see is that with limited talent, an average degree and a global recession he's lucky to be on his side of the desk.
Grumpy and obstinate Angela is holding on to her job with grim determination.
Trish fired Angela a few months ago, but she's just won an employment tribunal and is back with a vengeance... and now pretty much un-sackable.
Angela is a joyless keeper of cats with an aptitude for avoiding work, a propensity to subtly undermine Trish at any opportunity, and a stunning ability to make it almost impossible for the jobseekers she encounters to even sign on, let alone find a job.
Natalie (Series 2-3)
25-year old Natalie Mason is the new Deputy Manager of Brownall Job Centre, much to Angela's fury.
Fresh into job centres from the world of high-flying professional recruitment, Natalie's bright and enthusiastic to be at the coalface in helping people achieve their potential.
Chirpy, friendly and beautiful, Natalie immediately puts a smile on Steve's face; and on Trish's, being a fellow female member of staff without a deep-seated personality disorder...
Diminutive security guard Janette is the mother hen of the centre and fiercely loyal to her boss and most of her colleagues. In particular, she'd do anything for fellow security guard Paul.
Sometimes you wonder if Janette's job title should actually be 'Cleaner', as she is often spotted with a duster or hoover in her hands.
However, Janette shows a different side to herself when watching football or when someone mentions the Great Barr branch!
Paul is stationed near the front doors with Janette, acting as one of the centre's security guards.
He is a natural charmer and blessed with the gift of the gab.
Paul uses the centre's free phones and photocopier to run a carpet-fitting business on the side - and somehow gets away with it.
Jobseeker Bryony has an answer for everything and specialises in applying for completely unrealistic jobs.
She delights in running rings around Karl, who can't stop her from applying for MI5 and just wants to help her find a job she can do. But beneath the veneer of disdain, Bryony lacks the self-confidence to go to job interviews, something a burgeoning friendship with Danielle begins to address.
Ash (Series 3)
Ash is the new Work Psychologist responsible for the Brownall district.
Utterly well-meaning and supposedly well-educated, Ash is nevertheless utterly incompetent and often succeeds in only making things worse.
Graham (Series 1-2)
Graham is a conspiracy theorist with a heart of gold and an entirely original perspective on the world. He's been coming to the centre for years in the hope of finding a job, and he loves having the people there to talk to.
He seems to have been mysteriously naked from the waist up since the early nineties, and certainly isn't the sharpest tool in the box.
George (Series 1-2)
George likes to think of himself as a lone wolf, spending hours on surveillance in the quest for justice.
In his eyes, his work as the job centre's Fraud Officer is akin to that of a tough, inner-city police detective... although his targets are benefit cheats doing cash-in-hand jobs on the side, rather than career criminals and murderers.
Tom Burns (Series 2)
Tom is Karl's flatmate. He was dating Trish... the two were very much in love and Tom often came to the rescue of Trish.
One problem with their relationship was that Trish was regularly giggling into the telephone (presumably at some lewd idea Tom was whispering to her) rather than getting on with the work at hand.
Danielle (Series 1)
Danielle worked at the Job Centre. A new mum, she returned early from maternity leave and was glad to be back at work and away from the nappies.
She liked having a laugh with Karl and showing off her new and improved post-baby boobs. Besides custard creams, she was the only thing that helped Karl get through his day.