THE Outlaws is the long-awaited comedy from Stephen Merchant featuring an array of characters drawn from every section of society.
But being inspired by real life also poses a real danger for writers in a woke era, where putting a foot wrong can see you become the victim of cancel culture.
Yet Stephen, who not only stars in but also wrote the new Bristol-based BBC1 show, doesn’t seem too concerned.
He said: “I feel like I can’t start worrying about it.
“I just don’t know what might ultimately cause offence in that way. I’m just not equipped to fully second-guess everybody.
“These are characters, some of whom are wrong in how they approach the world, but that’s the character.
"That’s not me. I’m not trying to present that as something I necessarily agree with.”
The 12-part series, which starts on October 25, centres on a group of minor offenders thrown together in a community payback scheme.
They include Little Englander John (Darren Boyd) who repeatedly makes prejudiced remarks in front of Rani (Rhianne Barreto) and Christian (Gamba Cole).
Stephen, whose family hail from Bristol, said: “More than anything I’ve done before, it was a real team effort in terms of trying to engage all that stuff.
“I certainly think I’m mindful of everything that we put in the show and what our agenda is and how it might be perceived.
"I think things have changed and my own opinions have changed over time. I’ve been doing this for 20-odd years.”
The characters also include cocaine-snorting celebrity Lady Gabby (Eleanor Tomlinson) who Stephen based on diva supermodel Naomi Campbell.
And arguably the star signing of The Outlaws is Christopher Walken who plays ageing criminal Frank.
Christopher said: “I’m a fan of Stephen’s. We met at my house and I was very taken with him.
"It’s very good writing: you can tell that, if you’ve been doing it for as long as I have.
"I stand in my kitchen, and I read the lines out loud and these were very good words.
“I’ve been in England many times in my career, not to Bristol. It’s a terrific place. It’s a university town.
“I live in Connecticut, which is close to Yale University. There’s a theatre there that I worked at many times when I was young. Bristol is very much like that.
“First time I was here there were riots, a lot of noise outside. Second time there was also a lot of noise outside, but I think it was on account of the soccer.”
Gemma's ditching dinners
GEMMA Collins is so traumatised from her now infamous £1450 gold steak, she’s going on a dining-out strike with her friends and family.
The GC, 40, felt so guilty after splashing out on the expensive piece of meat in Salt Bae’s London restaurant last week, she told listeners of her podcast she’s going to avoid eating out in the near future.
She insisted: “I told all my friends and family that we would not be eating out for a long time. Not at those prices!
“I would never spend that money normally – it’s something I’ve never done before. I just started feeling really bad about it all.”
Well, we all make mis-steaks…
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