Stephen Merchant (The Office) has penned a new six-part series called The Offenders for BBC One and Amazon Prime Video, with casting just announced.
Academy Award-winning actor Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) will be making his leading British television debut as Frank, a long-established swindler undertaking community service in Bristol.
The Offenders follows seven strangers from vastly different backgrounds, who come together as part of Community Payback sentence in Bristol. As they grow to become more involved in each other’s lives, they also accidentally become entwined with a hardened criminal gang.
Alongside Walken, Stephen Merchant will play the lonely lawyer Greg, who is undergoing a painful divorce and coping with work-place bullying while also falling on the wrong side of dangerous men with knives.
Rhianne Barreto (Honour) will play Rani, a super intelligent maths student who is rebelling from her over-controlling parents. Barreto is joined by Gamba Cole (Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle) who plays Christian, a young man trying to avoid the clutches of Bristol’s notorious criminal gang, the Brook Hill Crew, while raising his younger sister.
Darren Boyd (Killing Eve) joins the group of offenders as John, a law-abiding citizen and businessman who feels he’s been unfairly labelled a criminal. EastEnders actress Clare Perkins will play the elderly campaigner and activist who has retained her fiery youthful radicalism.
Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark) completes the crew of seven offenders as the aristocratic Gabby, a high society fashionista whose glamorous lifestyle of leisure masks all manner of sins.
Additional cast members include: Jessica Gunning (Pride) as Diane, the offenders’ Community Service Supervisor, Dolly Wells (Dracula) as Margeret, Frank’s daughter, Ian McElhinney (Derry Girls) as John’s father, John Snr, Nina Wadia (Bend it like Beckham) as Rani’s mother, Shanthi, Aiyana Goodfellow as Esme and Charles Babalola as Malaki.
Stephen Merchant commented: "Like so many other productions, we’d just begun filming when Covid-19 struck and we had to shut-down. I’m delighted that we’re now finally able to resume filming with this incredible cast and finish this long-standing passion project. This is the first series I’ve made in my hometown of Bristol and I’m so excited to showcase the city and utilise the amazing local talent.”
Filming for The Offenders is currently underway in Bristol.