Stephen Merchant teases new comedy thriller The Outlaws

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

The Office's Stephen Merchant has opened up about his new BBC One comedy thriller The Outlaws, explaining how it tries to look beyond 'demonising' its characters.

The Bristol-set show follows seven different strangers from all walks of life who are forced together for a Community Payback sentence, and stars the likes of Poldark's Eleanor Tomlinson, Killing Eve's Darren Boyd and actual Christopher Walken.

Speaking to Digital Spy and other media, co-creator Merchant – who also stars – explained how the show tries not to display a political agenda.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Related: The Office's Stephen Merchant in first-look at new BBC crime series

"To me it's important that the show doesn't announce what its political agenda is," he said. "It's interesting to me that you can have all these different characters and you can't quite tell what the politics of the show is.

"A jumping off point was having all these people from all walks of life forced, literally, to work together, and so it was interesting to me to have a character like that [John, played by Darren Boyd] who sometimes you might decide to agree with and sometimes not, and sometimes we're mocking him and sometimes we're not."

He added: "I thought that was a really interesting way to go really, and true of all the characters, and trying to give all of them their day in court. I thought that seemed like an interesting way to approach it rather than trying to demonise any one of the characters.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

"Everyone is morally compromised in one way or another and that deepened as the show went on," Merchant elaborated. "Clearly, there are degrees of criminality, but the idea of evil – that person's evil – most people who commit crimes are not evil.

"Something has led to that circumstance and again, it's too easy to just dismiss whole swathes of people as criminals or whatever else."

The star expressed hope that viewers will "fill in the blanks at some point and see that they're just part of a system.

Photo credit: Ian Johnson - BBC
Photo credit: Ian Johnson - BBC

"Everyone's part of this socio-economic dynamic and everyone is redeemable or understandable or relatable."

He continued: "And you don't necessarily have to agree with how they're living their lives, but you hopefully see either what brought them to that moment or you see that they're not as cut and dry as you would necessarily assume."

The Outlaws also stars Clare Perkins (EastEnders), Rhianne Barreto (Honour), Gamba Cole (Hanna), Jessica Gunning (Back) and Charles Babalola (Bancroft), and begins later this month.

The Outlaws airs on October 25 at 9pm on BBC One.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting