by Scott Oakes
A BBC Three hit is about as rare as a Game of Thrones episode without at least one murder; the only current series worth mentioning that come to mind are Cuckoo, Class and Witless. Of which the latter is back for a second series and here’s why the audience should welcome it with open arms.
Kerry Howard and Zoe Boyle star in the comedy/drama about two friends forced in to the witness protection programme after witnessing a brutal shooting on the street. The first series had focused on the duo learning to live with their new identities and how they dealt with living together despite not really wanting to. Sergeant Forrest was the mole in the police and compromised the location of the women to the gang now looking to murder them and his actions are what really kick start the story in series 2.
Picking up directly where the first series ended, sometimes-disgustingly mild-mannered Rhona (Zoe Boyle) had just shot neighbour Jackie, mistaking her for a gang member that was closing in on them. Good news for the ladies, Jackie is still breathing and is rushed to hospital, the ambulance of which also becomes the getaway vehicle from their now dangerous residence. Upon hearing about the shooting, the police department dealing with the witness protection duo are quick to offer help and ensure their safety. Leanne (Kerry Howard) and Rhona however have other ideas, they decide to cut all ties with the police and ‘Witpro’ and go it alone.
Who can blame them? Sergeant Forrest betrayed them so his sordid internet romance would not be leaked and it is important to note that the women still don’t know it was him. For all they know, the mole may still be operating within the police. These women are now in grave danger and they now know it. The new series highlights smart progression for our protagonists, until now they haven’t had the confidence to face the reality of their situation but now are taking matters into their own hands; they are in survival mode.
The new series sees the introduction of gang leader Willy Whelen; it appears as though he doesn’t quite understand what metaphors are ‘this kid has balls’ should not be demonstrated in a literal way, yet Whelen makes ‘DJ Sound As F*** (Nicholas Fruin) present his to a pub full of men to praise him (?) for murdering Appraisal.
DJ Sound As F*** (yes, that is really the character name) is the stand-out character of the series, he is the epitome of what this programme wants to be; he’s dramatic, he’s comedic and he’s just a little bit different to what we are used to. This series we see him deal with murdering his best friend to keep himself and the gang from jail time but also the possibility of climbing the hierarchy of Whelen’s gang.
The second series not only captures the essence of the original with its dark humour and its gripping story but it brings new material to the table. The women are now fighting their own corner instead of relying on a flawed witness ‘protection’ programme and we learn that a box of Quavers crisps can actually be a reward for murdering your childhood best friend.
Just with only five episodes, it is so simple to find yourself watching them all in one go. It feels as if it is over before it really even got going.
Dir: Andrew Chaplin
Scr: Lloyd Woolf, Joe Tucker
Cast: Zoe Boyle, Kerry Howard, Nicholas Fruit
Prd: Charlotte Lewis
Country: United Kingdom
Running Time: 25 Minutes
Witless is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.