The Outlaws return for more adventures

Sunday: The Outlaws - (BBC One, 9pm)

By Claire Cartmill
Saturday, 4th June 2022, 5:00 pm
Diane, Myrna, Frank, Rani, Greg, Gabby, Christian and John
Diane, Myrna, Frank, Rani, Greg, Gabby, Christian and John

Let’s face it, 2021 was not a classic year. But there was at least one televisual treat to lighten the gloom…

The Outlaws was the BBC’s biggest comedy launch of that 12-month period, and its mix of laughs, thrills and a soupçon of tension made it must-see viewing – so we should all be rather pleased to see it back for a second run of six episodes.

It’s the brainchild of US film-maker and musician Elgin James and Ricky Gervais’ old mate Stephen Merchant. It’s set in the latter’s hometown of Bristol and was partly inspired by his own parents.

“Growing up, my parents used to work for Bristol Community Service,” he explains. “I was always intrigued because it was such a mix of people. You’d have the businessman who’d got caught drink-driving or some student who’d got in trouble for some minor thing. Or there was an old guy who was stealing cabbages from allotments just to get community service, because he was lonely and he liked the social aspect of it.

“What was interesting to me was that it was a way of bringing completely disparate groups of people together. You could have a random cross-section of society and it was totally legit that they were all there doing community service. Also, I liked the idea of doing something which had a crime thriller aspect but that didn’t just involve policemen or private detectives.”

And so, the first run introduced viewers to a mismatched bunch of people, all caught doing something they shouldn’t. They may have little in common personally, but by the end of the first run, they’d formed a close bond, working together to outsmart both the authorities and a criminal gang. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the show was that viewers grew to care about each and every one of them.

“I am overwhelmed by the wonderful response to The Outlaws,” said Merchant after the final episode aired. “Audiences have fallen in love with the characters as much as I have and my Twitter feed is inundated with people asking for updates on series two, so I’m delighted to confirm the entire gang will return for more adventures. If we made The Outlaws sweat in series one, we’re really turning the heat up second time round…”

The follow-up was shot back-to-back with its predecessor, which is why we haven’t had to wait that long to find out what’s next for the gang.

They’re still continuing their community service under the eager if not especially efficient eye of hapless probation officer Diane. Meanwhile, the police are trying to figure out who shot Spider. They may think it was Ben, but can they prove it?

All the original cast – including Hollywood icon Christopher Walken – are back in action too.

“The return of The Outlaws is such brilliant news,” adds Jonathan Blyth, director of comedy at BBC Studios. “The talented cast have produced a really special series full of dramatic moments, humour and warmth.”

We can’t wait to see how it all pans out – while keeping our fingers crossed for a third run.