How much do you know about the person working next to you? Paul Abbott's acclaimed drama uncovers the lives of staff in a Northern factory.
From the outside, life at Mackintosh Textiles, in North-West England, appears to run smoothly. But in a community with so many secrets to hide, things are far from straightforward.
Clocking Off is a patchwork of colourful stories. In each stand-alone episode, one character comes to the fore, while others fade into the background. Their jobs may be mundane but their private lives are filled with incident. Loveless marriages, disappearing husbands, bungled arson attempts, infidelity, gang harassment and plastic surgery all fuel the rumour machines at the factory.
The factory setting only serves to heighten the characters' dilemmas. They bottle up difficulties so as not to lose face in front of friends and colleagues, and then sometimes the pressure gets too great and they explode.
Paul Abbott, creator of Clocking Off, and later Shameless and State of Play, discusses his take on the drama.
"The mechanism of the factory is not what I started to write about. We cherry-picked the best stories to pull out of that environment. I didn't want to write an anthology series. The binding element is just working life - we've all got jobs, we all work with a number of people. It could have been set anywhere. It's an arena for stories. The factory is a sanctuary for the workers, away from their dramatic personal lives.
"It is not an issue-based piece, it's about relationships. I'm happier with stories about ordinary people. I think they make for more interesting television. I enjoy comedy and I enjoy hard-line drama and I love putting them side-by-side."
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