*SPOILERS for No Offence series 3 episode 1*
Didn’t see that coming, did you? Channel 4 police drama No Offence has shocked viewers by killing off DS Joy Freers in the opening sequence of series three.
Actress Alexandra Roach made a surprise exit from the show after her character Joy died in the line of duty during a dramatic attempted assassination at Manchester’s mayoral hustings.
The gunman shot Joy as he made his getaway; she later died of her injuries en route to hospital.
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Killing off a main character seems to be in vogue at the moment. But why Joy?
“Essentially it’s because the actress wanted to leave,” screenwriter Paul Abbott tells RadioTimes.com in an exclusive interview. “We decided it was better to kill her than just to let her go off somewhere.
“The audience would always feel like she was due back if you just send them off – in Home and Away they used to send them all off to Perth, didn’t they? Whenever anyone left they went to Perth in case they wanted to come back. And we wanted it to be definitive.”
Joy’s death comes at the very beginning of the series, and Abbott was keen not to “milk it”. While there are tears from DI Viv Deering (Joanna Scanlan) and anger from DC Spike Tanner (Will Mellor) and Joy’s best friend Dinah Kowalska (Elaine Cassidy), they soon channel that emotion into dark humour and a joint determination to catch Joy’s killer.
“We wanted to see the characters getting over it, recovering from it, and fighting their corner,” Abbott explains. “So we blew it before the first ad break.”
He adds, “I think the audience naturally grieves the character, and you have to then compensate in the rest of the episode for their loss and make sure that the teamwork – the team – doesn’t feel fatally splintered. They recover and get their teamwork and get their sh*t together really quickly, in search of her killer.”
While fans will surely miss pure-hearted, insecure, dedicated crime-fighter Joy, the screenwriter says her departure will allow other relationships to grow within the team – including a deeper relationship between Spike and Dinah.
“There’s a natural injection of energy when somebody goes,” he says.”You’re having to recalculate the complexion of the team, and we just got a lot more voltage out of it than had we not killed her.”
No Offence continues on Thursdays at 9pm on Channel 4, and is available as a box set on Sky