Written by DC Moore, a former star of Channel 4’s new talent strand Coming Up, Not Safe for Work is a highly original and inventive 6-part workplace comedy drama for Channel 4 that is both a deft portrait of a generation struggling with the realities of 21st century work life and a warm exploration of the camaraderie and friendships that can bloom in times of difficulty.
Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat, Dreams of a Life) stars as Katherine a civil servant, reluctantly relocated from London to Northampton as part of public sector cuts. Recently divorced and troubled by secrets in her past, her relocation may just be the last straw for her.
Things are made even more difficult for Katherine when she realises she’ll be working with Anthony, played by Tom Weston Jones. Cited in Katherine’s divorce papers, their relationship is complicated to say the least… Sacha Dhawan plays the perma-wasted Danny, a chancer who has somehow found himself managing Katherine’s new office after he pretended to be a devout Muslim. Struggling to work around his fondness for drink and drugs, he’s constantly led astray by his feisty PA, Angela, played Jo Hartley, a terrible influence… Sophie Rundle plays Jenny, irrepressibly and irritatingly upbeat. Jenny is a ball of energy with a relentlessly sunny disposition that hides a profound vulnerability. Meanwhile Nathanial, played by Samuel Barnett, is naïve and well meaning, trying his best to do his job, but never quite certain what his job actually involves. Sian Brooke plays Martine, the minister’s closest adviser who’s sent in from London to scrutinise the team’s policy plans. Anastasia Hille joins the cast as a shell-shocked Jeffries, head of Human Resources and responsible for Katherine and Danny’s relocation. She’s as surprised as everyone else to find herself on the receiving end of her own wave of cuts. Behind her stoical and affable nature, and with her own problems at home, she’s as lost as everyone else.
Full of black humour, razor sharp dialogue and intricately drawn relationships, Not Safe for Work is a timely comedy drama which cuts straight to the quick of a lost generation.
The series is created and written by DC Moore and executive produced by Murray Ferguson and Andy Baker for Clerkenwell Films. The producer is Jemma Rodgers. The directors are Kieron Hawkes and Robert McKillop. Not Safe for Work is commissioned by Piers Wenger, Head of Drama at Channel 4.
Chaotic civil servant Katherine is relocated to Northampton as part of the government cuts. There she encounters a motley crew of workmates: her new boss – the perma-wasted Danny, Angela his feisty PA, Jenny – far too eager, Nathaniel – naïve and clueless, and Anthony – an old-flame of Katherine’s that didn’t end well. When Jeffries, an experienced Whitehall HR manager, also arrives wanting to know about preparations for an important presentation to the minister next week, Katherine has to help Danny cover up the fact that his department has done no work for two years.
Jeffries reveals the real reason she’s in Northampton: to streamline the department. Katherine, meanwhile, is preoccupied by the anniversary of a traumatic event from her past. She makes a spectacle of herself at her welcome drinks, upsetting practically everyone. Not least Anthony, to whom she reveals a dark secret about their shared history. Hungover the next day, Katherine and Danny concoct a cunning plan to delay the presentation to the minister.
The minister’s aide, Martine, arrives from London to pile the pressure on the Northampton team. Katherine has to juggle protecting Danny from himself with actually getting some work done. Meanwhile a secret link between Martine and Jeffries is revealed, while Martine takes a shine to Anthony and Jenny receives some bad news. Danny manages to pull the department back from the brink, drawing inspiration from the most unusual of places.
A mysterious tension between Jenny and Nathaniel comes to a head as the rest of the team prepare to head to London for the big presentation. But it’s not a smooth journey, with Danny AWOL, Martine and Jeffries at each other’s throats, Anthony and Katherine struggling to keep their relationship professional. Not to mention a broken-down train…
It’s the day of the big presentation in London. Back in Northampton, Nathaniel attempts to help a disillusioned Jenny come to terms with her recent bad news. Danny is still missing and Angela’s response is somewhat unconventional. Meanwhile Jeffries has her own issues to deal with, leaving Anthony and a stage-fright-stricken Katherine alone to present to the minister, as events take a rather unexpected turn.
A week on from the presentation and the department is still awaiting news on its fate. Fearing the worst, Katherine strongly considers her future as a visitor shows up for her in Northampton, turning her world upside down. Danny finally returns to the office, where he and Angela share some home truths. And as news finally comes from the minister, all is not as it seems, leaving Katherine with some very difficult life decisions to make that won’t just impact on her future, but the rest of her workmates’ too…