9-10 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9
ITV1 (U.K.)

LONDON -- Mendacity is the central thread of ITV's cockeyed but entertaining new comedy "Honest," about a family of knucklehead criminals barely kept under control by Mom, played with typical assurance by Amanda Redman.

Redman has become a major star of British television with such series as "At Home With the Braithwaites" and "New Tricks," and she makes the occasional film appearance ("Sexy Beast"). Her new six-part show relies heavily on her ability to sally through iffy material making it both dramatic and comedic.

As Lindsay Carter, she is the wife of career criminal Mack (Danny Webb), who is soon back behind bars doing a four-year stretch. That leaves Mom in charge of a family of connivers that includes twin brothers Vin and Taylor (both played by Matthew McNulty); bubbleheaded Kacie (Laura Haddock), whose only wish is to become a supermodel; 15-year-old Lianna (Eleanor Wyld), who is smarter than the rest of them put together; and Granddad (Michael Byrne), a retired safecracker.

Although the family is well known as a criminal enterprise to the community and the police -- led by Sgt. Bain (Sean Pertwee) and Constable Harrison (Thomas Nelstrop) -- Lindsay is determined to go straight.

The show follows her attempts at taking various types of employment that will keep the family afloat until Dad gets out of the slammer. Inevitably, whether it's a home-goods store, an insurance agency or a friend's agency, there's dirty dealing afoot that brings the show's one honest woman afoul of the law.

The relations, meanwhile, are involved in numerous schemes ranging from Vin's attempts to avoid the vengeance of a Chinese man he believes to be a triad leader, Taylor's dalliance with his former high school teacher and Grandpa's temptation to pull out his old safecracking tools.

It's the kind of stuff that Donald Westlake writes in his sleep, and the show suffers from too much silliness upfront. But the show comes from Greenlit Rights, which makes the popular "Foyle's War," and it gains credibility and appeal as it goes along. Much of the credit for that, however, goes to Redman.

ITV/Greenlit Rights
Teleplay: Jack Williams
Producers: Jill Green, Eve Gutierrez
Directors: Brian Kelly, Julian Holmes
Director of photography: Jim O'Donnell
Production designer: Julie Harris
Composer: Kevin Sargent
Costume designer: Eleanor Baker
Editors: Liana Del Giudice, Xavier Russell
Lindsay Carter: Amanda Redman
Mack Carter: Danny Webb
Taylor/Vin Carter: Matthew McNulty
Lianna: Eleanor Wyld
Kacie: Laura Haddock
Granddad: Michael Byrne
Sgt. Bain: Sean Pertwee
Constable Harrison: Thomas Nelstrop
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