Hunting down serial killers, drug dealers and neo-Nazis is all in a day’s work for a hardened team of Manchester cops in No Offence, a new eight-part comedy drama by Shameless writer Paul Abbott.

And heading up operations at Friday Street police station is the no-nonsense and slightly unhinged boss, DI Vivienne Deering, played by Joanna Scanlan (The Thick Of It). Her officers are competitive but unorthodox and one of her rising stars is the newly promoted – and very nervous – sergeant Joy Freers, played by Fresh Meat star Alexandra Roach.

We had a quick video chat with both Joanna and Alexandra who told about the challenges of playing their very different coppers…

“There’s lots of funnyness in this role but we approached it as a drama that’s telling a story which is quite a rollercoaster of a ride,” says Joanna. “Vivienne Dearing is the Detective Inspector, it’s her team and it’s her show, and she runs her station like she’s a madam in a brothel.”

Utopia star Alexandra adds: “As characters, Viv and Joy are really miles apart. As the series goes on Joy becomes a much more competent police officer. When she starts out though, she’s so anxious and buttoned-up so tight she could pop!”

Now a comedy regular in hit series such as The Thick Of It, Big School and Puppy Love, Joanna has a changed her appearance for No Offence. She’s now gone blonde to play bossy Vivienne.

“I real life, I’m not blonde, so that was a real change. Inside I feel so deeply brunette,” says Joanna. “And in real-life I’m also bossy, not quite as bossy as Vivienne, but a bit bossy. So I quite like Viv’s bossiness in this!”

No Offence starts on Channel 4 on Tuesday May 5 at 9pm

Watch our interview with Joanna Scanlan and Alexandra Roach, above…