Upon reading that The Bay was a new missing child drama, I came over all Brenda from Bristol, i.e ”NOT ANOTHER ONE.”
Yes, in recent years this has now become a much-exhausted TV genre. I loved the second series of The Missing though, in fact it is one of my most favourite dramas of recent years. However, the missing kid thing has now been done to death.
Did I really want to watch another drama in this field, but this time set in Morecambe Bay? Not really was my answer. Therefore, as The Bay started on ITV1, I was viewing it with my exhausted sceptical hat on. Soon my sceptical hat was off though because very early on I became hooked. Sex, lies and the law, all made for a cracking start to this opening episode.
Some critics will argue it is far too much like Broadchurch in a multitude of ways. The production, the haunting music and the storytelling all appeared like we had seen this somewhere else before. This might be true, but that in turn does not necessarily mean The Bay is unoriginal and so a flop.
For me, the narrative had enough twists and turns in it to make The Bay appear unique. It is like it bottled all the best bits of Broadchurch and then came out with a slightly altered, but still successful formula.
The main lead in this first episode was DS Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie), a Police Family Liaison officer. Morven has appeared on our screens a few times now in different things (The A-Word, The Replacement), and I have been mightily impressed by her acting every time that I’ve seen her. Lisa’s latest case was that of two missing teenage twins. She takes her job seriously but also likes a night out, and it is this latter aspect that puts her firmly into a very comprising situation with her latest case.
All the rest of the cast were excellent as you would expect. Worthy of a special mention are the twin’s parents Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong) and Jess Meredith (Chanel Cresswell). Chanel shone brightly as the panic-stricken mother, constantly on edge. Jonas delivered a strong performance too and didn’t overact his part as the somewhat mysterious and adulterous stepdad.
Equally as impressive was the performance given by Daniel Ryan, who plays DI Tony Manning. Having only ever seen this actor before play Dan in the comedy-drama Mount Pleasant, I thought he showed his versatility well here. Firm but fair was his role and it did not seem like a copied performance from elsewhere.
As this was the first episode, there was plenty of setting things up for the proceeding weeks ahead. Who was Lisa’s son, Rob Armstrong (Art Parkinson), secretly talking to on his computer I wonder? Lisa’s daughter, Abbie Armstrong (Imogen King), got chatty with a local labourer called Vincent (Adam Long), so no doubt he has a significant role to play in all of this somewhere along the way.
Yes, as already stated this programme was not the most original but it was captivating, engaging and brilliant entertainment throughout. It deserves to be watched by many and cherished as the northern version of Broadchurch.
Hands-up time, I started off as a sceptic but ended up enjoying it immensely! 4/5.