Those that have not heard of the Noonan family need to look a little closer and tune in to this new and exclusive UK premiere series "At Home with the Noonans" shown on the Crime & Investigation Network (Sky 553 & Virgin 237). The digital channel has embarked on a documentary series that is presented in a straight talking narrative style by renowned investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre about the Noonans, a notorious crime family from Manchester.
MacIntyre spent 10 years filming the Noonan family for this series, to the extent that MacIntyre welcomed Bugsy Noonan, (family patriarch Domenyk Noonan's son) into his own home. The objective of the series is to provide a unique insight into one of the most prominent crime families in the UK through candid access.
The first episode of the series introduces us to members of the Noonan family and their associates. The programme starts with a snapshot of Desmond or "Dessie" Noonan who was a British organised crime boss and hit-man, before being stabbed to death by a drug dealer. Dessie Noonan with younger brother Domenyk Noonan are thought to be behind around 25 unsolved murders in their dominance of Manchester's crime world.
Other members of the Noonan family and those with close connections have fiercely rejected the limelight. So this begs the question why did Domenyk Noonan allow Donal MacIntyre into his underworld? And secondly the question that I asked Donal MacIntyre at the screening for "At Home with the Noonans": "Do you think filming will influence Domenyk's teenage son's behaviour?"
Domenyk Noonan has spent nearly three decades behind bars and is the best known member of the Noonan family. Much of his activity has been reported on in high profile court appearances.
Domenyk Noonan is proud of his multicultural outlook and life. One can almost feel from the recording that Domenyk is aiming to show how he is different from other criminals. He is gay, speaks Urdu, and is an overtly devote Catholic .
The intention of this series is not to make the viewer feel sorry for Domenyk as his brutal way of life has reaped havoc on the people (albeit often criminals) of eManchester. We learn from the series that Domenyk was sexually abused during his childhood, and like many other characters in the series has had a tough upbringing as a child. Although it is nothing new to hear sob stories from the criminal fraternity in an attempt to excuse their actions it appears in this series these stories are merely the recalling of events from the past and are not used by those involved to justify their own violence and illegal activities - this is something refreshingly honest about this series that is rare in real crime documentaries; they are neither victims or perpetrators, they are people.
Taking this into account one can understand why Domenyk has led the path he has. I feel Domenyk has used the series to promote his character. He commands enough respect and dominance in Manchester to cruise through prison sentences and dominate court hearings, and to have overturned court hearings by winning over juries. Domenyk has even set up his own police force in his Manchester area as a business venture. The man is often called upon to diffuse issues in his local area, and has enough credibility to resolve these issues almost to a better extent than the police.
Violent crime has increased since Domenyk has been in prison but instances of witness intimidation have fallen.
It is clear from watching him in this series he does not seem to have any plans to stop his criminal behaviour, but it is Domenyk's son Bugsy one fears for. As the first two episodes shows Bugsy is starting to get involved in serious crime, and is starting to follow in the footsteps of his father.
The problem Bugsy faces is that his male role model and father Domenyk has spent many years behind bars.
Bugsy in his own words talks of his lack of money, so car crime and commercial crime are seen as the only way to make money. He and his friends talk of "robbing the right items," that can net you £50,000. Bugsy's mother (Mandy) talks about her son doing nothing and spending all day in bed. The real shame for Bugsy is that we learn in a future episode that he refuses to go on job seeker's allowance or to go to college. So for me I can only see Bugsy going one way and that is the path of his father.
One aspect the first two episodes manage to convey is the mundane and tough world the Noonan's face despite being a family of sorts. Bugsy Noonan is growing up with one of the rooms in the house being used as a make-shift brothel, with lusty dark characters turning up for their sex fix. That environment is undoubtedly going to have a negative affect on the young Bugsy. Despite the rather bleak future for Domenyk the series will undoubtedly give us an unprecedented access to the true grit and reality of crime and the underworld that surrounds it.
At Home with the Noonans continues every Sunday at 10pm on Crime & Investigation Network (Sky 553 & Virgin 237). For more information go to www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk and to join the conversation on Twitter use the hashtag #Noonans.
Follow Richard Chidwick on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ChidwickR