Comedian led show shines light on social work scandal (Channel 4, 10pm).
As the latest series of Jo Brand’s social worker sitcom Damned drew to a close, it looked like Al (Alan Davies) was ready to pack in his job and make a fresh start in Scotland.
Speaking ahead of the season finale, Davies revealed he can understand why his character is feeling that way. The comedian and actor said: “He is suffering from burnout, I suppose you’d call it.
“He’s really starting to become disillusioned with the department being under resourced and underfunded, not being able to deliver the service that he wants to.”
It’s a situation many real social workers will be able to relate to.
Davies says: “It sort of reflects the reality of children’s social services. Quite a lot of people leave because they find it so demanding and difficult, and there’s quite a lot of sick days, they get quite stressed, and there’s quite a lot of work that you’d like to do but the caseload’s too heavy...
“It’s an ongoing, underreported scandal, really, how children aren’t prioritised in public services in the way that you would assume they would be, given that they’re innocent victims of so much.”
So, perhaps it’s not surprising that Davies thinks he wouldn’t have been cut out for the job in real life. When asked what sort of social worker he would have made, the QI regular explained:
“I don’t know if I’d really be cut out for it at all. I really don’t know how people who do the job cope. It’s quite heroic in lots of ways.
“It’s very difficult indeed, and often the work they do of course is not highlighted until a mistake is made or something terrible happens to a child and then the world falls on them.”
Although that makes Damned sound unbearably grim, regular viewers will know that the cast and Brand’s fellow writers Morwenna Banks and Will Smith are great at finding the humour in some otherwise dark situations.
Davies added: “I think with Damned it’s a very difficult line to tread because you want to have some authenticity about the cases that they have to deal with and you’re often dealing with very sad and difficult situations.
“So they might not apparently lend themselves to humour but then you have the office politics and the interplay of the various points of view...
“But once our social workers are out in the field and meeting the cases, the actual children who are depicted in the show, we’re quite keen to make sure those people aren’t the butt of the humour, that they are taken seriously. So the jokes normally fall on us.”
Rose (Brand) may be feeling like the butt of the joke this week, as she discovers the pitfalls of dating the boss’s brother - especially as Lee (Nick Hancock) is making a last ditch attempt to win her back. Meanwhile, Nitin (Himesh Patel) tries to guide Nat (Issy Suttie) through her pregnancy, and Martin (Kevin Eldon) and Mimi’s (Lolly Adefope) unorthodox living arrangements come under scrutiny.
Tune in to 4 On Demand to catch up.