Damned would be easy to miss, 10pm Tuesdays on Channel 4 with not much advertisement and little hype but for me it’s a TV highlight every week.
Damned is a sitcom set in a busy social work office, based primarily around the work and home lives of Rose (Jo Brand) and Al (Alan Davies) as they try to manage their families and their constantly hectic social work cases with a strong supporting cast of Himesh Patel as Nitin, an over-involved and ambitious young co-worker who’s actions make him the butt of the office jokes; Isy Suttie as Nat, the dim but well-meaning temp; Kevin Eldon (the actor) as Martin, the ‘nice guy’ of the office and Georgie Glen as Denise, the team’s boss who struggles to keep track of the goings on with the people she is supposed to manage.
When you hear Jo Brand and Government-department-based sitcom (which I don’t think anyone is hearing but roll with me here) you have to think of Moving On so Damned has big shoes to fill. What I think Brand does here is though, to labour a metaphor, is get new shoes. This isn’t Moving On but it’s something different and I think it really works.
Al’s pessimism mixed with Nitin’s stickling about the rules and his regular mentioning of his police training proves a good combination and Rose struggling to manage her family functions well. As with many great modern comedies Damned isn’t just obviously comedic, there’s a heart there too. In the social work meetings you see Al giving the common sense answer rather than the over-complicated jargon that is perceived to be the standard. As much as Damned works as a comedy where it really functions is as reminder that social workers aren’t there to just get in the way and come to the wrong assumptions and you only ever hear about the worst issues, not the average, hardworking, good-at-their-job workers.
As much as I liked it I think it’s sadly unlikely Damned will get picked up for a second series due to the ratings. It’s a real shame that shows like this are getting missed by the public but unfortunately with so much in the way of choice nowadays it’s hard to see a way that a quiet bittersweet sitcom like Damned can get the notice it deserves.