Not exactly the type of The Office and Mayans M.C. team-up we may have been hoping for, but an interesting-sounding one nonetheless. The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant and Mayans M.C. co-creator Elgin James are teaming up for Amazon Studios and BBC's The Offenders (working title) – keeping the Fleabag love going between the streamer and UK network.
Deadline Hollywood reports exclusively that the six-part crime thriller/social commentary series follows seven strangers from different walks of life forced together to complete a community payback sentence in Bristol. Although they seem like archetypes, they should not be pigeon-holed. As their unlikely new friendships intersect with their complicated private lives, the group must unite to protect one of their own from Bristol's most dangerous criminal gang.
"The Offenders is a long-standing passion project for me. My parents used to work in the Community Service world and I was always intrigued that the many and varied people they dealt with only had one thing in common: they'd committed a crime. Ever since The Office, I love finding ways to bring unlikely groups of people together and watch the sparks fly. As a writer, I always include humour but with The Offenders, I also get to add drama, pathos, crime genre thrills and say something optimistic about the common humanity that unites us all, whatever our background. The Offenders' mix of light and shade, dark and comic, middle-class angst with inner-city grit, reflects the unlikely partnership of me and Elgin. I grew up in suburbia whereas Elgin spent his early life building a national street gang until a police investigation landed him in prison. Despite coming from different sides of the tracks, Elgin and I share a love of convincing characters and authentic, engaging, human stories."
– Stephen Merchant
Charlotte Moore, BBC Director of Content, Shane Allen, BBC Controller, Comedy Commissioning; and BBC Head of Comedy Kate Daughton commissioned the project on behalf of the BBC. Merchant for Four Eyes, and Luke Alkin, Kenton Allen, and Matthew Justice for Big Talk serve as executive producers, with Daughton serving as BBC's Commissioning Editor. Nickie Sault (The Virtues) is set to produce.
Amazon Prime Video will air the series in the U.S., Canada and Australia; and on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK. BBC Studios is set to handle global distribution deals, with filming taking place in Bristol, UK.
Daughton had this to say about the announcement:
"The BBC One audience are in for an absolute treat with Stephen Merchant's gripping world rich with heart, humour and stand out characters. Amongst the deftly woven plots, high jinks, unlikely friendships and big belly laughs are very human stories about loyalty, truth and family."
Brad Beale, Vice President, Worldwide Content Licensing for Amazon Prime Video, followed up on the excitement:
"We're so excited to work with Stephen on a series with his signature razor-sharp wit and distinctive, delightful characters. Stephen is such a gifted actor and creator, and we know our Prime Video customers will love The Offenders."