Dead Boss

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Dead Boss
Dead boss poster 1.jpg
Created by Sharon Horgan
Holly Walsh
Starring Sharon Horgan
Jennifer Saunders
Bryony Hannah
Geoffrey McGivern
Tom Goodman-Hill
Lizzie Roper
Aisling Bea
Amanda Lawrence
Edward Hogg
Ricky Champ
Emma Pierson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 6
Executive producer(s) Jo Sargent
Sharon Horgan
Producer(s) Caroline Norris
Running time 30 minutes
Original network BBC Three
Original release 14 June – 12 July 2012
External links

Dead Boss is a British sitcom shown on BBC Three. The first episode aired on 14 June 2012 on BBC Three. To date, one series consisting of 6 episodes has aired. There is no word as to whether Dead Boss has been cancelled or will return for a second series.


The two writers, Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh met through Jo Caulfield, a stand-up comedian who had a show on Radio 4. Horgan and Walsh both worked on the show, Horgan as an actress, and Walsh as a writer. Horgan initially had the idea of writing a sitcom based on somebody being stuck in prison for a crime they didn't commit. She asked Walsh if she wanted to work on it with her and the process from conception to broadcast took over two and a half years.[1]

Regular characters[edit]


Series 1[edit]

# Title Original airdate
1 "Episode one" 14 June 2012 (2012-06-14)
Wrongly convicted to 12 years' imprisonment for the murder of her boss, Helen Stephens arrives at Broadmarsh Prison, convinced that it's only a matter of time before her innocence is shown - only to find that there are plenty of fellow prisoners to take an instant dislike to her.
2 "Episode two" 14 June 2012 (2012-06-14)
Life is made more bearable for Helen when Governor Margaret announces the annual prison quiz - promising prizes of a tin of biscuits, a supersize bottle of conditioner and 5 years off the winner's sentence. Helen is forced into being on Top Dog's team, causing trouble for her friends.
3 "Episode three" 21 June 2012 (2012-06-21)
Christine has been sent to Germany on a prison exchange. Helen is instructed by prison governor Margaret to look after their German guest Gertrude Wermers, played by Anna Crilly.
4 "Episode four" 28 June 2012 (2012-06-28)
Frustrated with the lack of progress with her appeal, Helen takes matters into her own hands and decides to study the law.
5 "Episode five" 5 July 2012 (2012-07-05)
Governor Margaret announces the annual prison choir competition. Helen is certain to be made lead vocalist until the surprise appearance of Virna, played by Caroline Quentin.
6 "Episode six" 12 July 2012 (2012-07-12)
Helen is moved to D Wing, much to Christine's dismay, where she is then befriended by white collar criminal Jo, played by Miranda Richardson.

The series seems to be unfinished after episode 6 of series 1 because Helen is no nearer to being released and there remain many unresolved sub-plots. For example, her former fiancé has still not visited her in prison, nor explained his disappearance. We don't know what happened to the winning lottery money, we don't know why Helen's boss needed a forged passport, nor who is the owner of the body in the storage locker that we see in the final few seconds of episode 6.


The series has reveived mixed reviews. It holds a rating of 6.7/10 at the Internet Movie Database. Terry Ramsey of The Daily Telegraph gave the series a rating of 3.5/5 and stating that "at the start, this looked like another trying-hard-to-be-wacky-without-actually-being-very-funny BBC Three comedy, but by halfway through the first episode it got into its stride, with succinct characterisation, sly humour and a winning main character. On top of the humour there’s a murder mystery developing, plus a fine cameo role by Jennifer Saunders as the prison governor. I watched the second instalment that followed, and really enjoyed it. I can’t stop now, and am desperate for another episode."[2] Jack Seale of The Radio Times gave the series a negative review, saying "Popular as it now is, this "everyone except the main character is a loon" approach feels like a way to con us out of the 3D creations that are hard to write but keep us coming back. Dead Boss also has an ongoing story arc – again this is in vogue at the expense of giving each episode a tight, resolved plot. You wonder whether this is really because it works better or because writers have lost the knack of setting two or three stories running and then reining them in again 28 minutes later. The story of who really killed Helen’s boss is too silly to be believable, but not silly enough for that to stop mattering. Nothing in Dead Boss feels like it actually exists. If a joke falls flat, it's hard to ignore because there's nothing else there. Of course it’s possible to do comedy that doesn’t have any truth or soul if the jokes are outlandishly good but, despite a superb cast, Dead Boss struggles to reinvent incompetent lawyers, meat-headed screws and disgusting prison food. Horgan and new writing partner Holly Walsh's gags don't have their own fresh voice: episode two had a creaking crack at wordplay involving the phrase "plan B" and the words "you" and "see"; a scene where Helen's absurdly creepy stalker had been masturbating in his office led exactly where you thought it might. Pulling had heart and guts. Dead Boss feels hollow."[3] A negative review from Sam Wollaston, where she said that "this was pretty lame – and tame – in comparison. I wanted to like it, but couldn't. So I ignored it. Perhaps it needed time to bed in (pah!), and would get into its stride in week two. I told myself I was giving it a chance by deferring judgment, when of course I was really simply bottling it."[4] Ket Watson of the Metro gave a negative review, in which he stated that "Dead Boss was enticing enough with its stellar cast, excellent writing credentials and intriguing premise, but in the event, this début episode was more Dead Loss than anything else." He also said that "Throttled by a cast of supporting characters cobbled together from left over bits of Psychoville and Prisoner Cell Block H, Dead Boss boasted bonkers eccentricity by the slop-out bucketload but none of it felt remotely original", and "At the centre of it all there’s Horgan, working her socks off as the ‘normal’ one. But she’s fighting a losing battle, because the script is a bit of a stinker – and she co-wrote it. This is hard to admit for a Horgan fan but thus far Dead Boss is a bit of a dead loss."[5]


  1. ^ "Dead Boss - BBC3 Sitcom". 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012. ;, 14 June 2012.
  2. ^ "Dead Boss, BBC Three, review". June 15, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Dead Boss, BBC3 - review". The Radio Times. June 14, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2016. 
  4. ^ "TV review: Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars; Dead Boss". The Guardian. June 21, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Dead Boss gave us a sick joke that was nowhere near sick enough". Metro. June 14, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2016. 

External links[edit]