If you’re in a bit of a rush reading this and are slightly concerned that you might not have time to read our full review of the first episode of ITV1’s newest weekly crime drama The Bay, then don’t fret. We’ll help you out with a quick five-word review upfront…
It’s basically a Morecambe Broadchurch.
Now get going and do whatever it is you need to do to. You can come back and read the rest of this write-up later.
It really is worth addressing the rather obvious comparisons between The Bay and Broadchurch nice and early. So let’s get it on the record and out of the way. here are some noteworthy similarities between the two, including:
● A picturesque but chilly-looking seaside setting
● Children going missing
● Bodies washing up on beaches
● Chalk n’ cheese police detectives
● Suspicious parents
● Police figures sharing secrets with suspects
● A mounting cast of shifty characters
● Troublesome teenage offspring
● The distinct sense of upcoming twists and turns
Grantchester’s Morven Christie is DS Lisa Armstrong here, a no-nonsense Morecambe-based detective assigned to work as a Family Liaison Officer with the Meredith family when their 15-year-old twins Holly and Dylan go missing.
Of course, this is a TV crime drama, so Armstrong is lumbered with a rookie partner she’s tasked with having to ‘show the ropes’. He’s an awkward but earnest type that wants to do his best but ultimately serves to do little but irritate our lead investigator. Though we’re sure that DC Ahmed ‘Med’ Kharim (TV newcomer Taheen Modak) will prove himself more and more useful as the show plays out.
Accompanying the missing children plot is a moral dilemma straight out of the Jeremy Kyle playbook – Lisa knows the father in the biblical sense. In fact, the pair bashed bibles only the night before. On the very evening that his children went missing, fisherman Sean Meredith (Robin Hood’s Jonas Armstrong) and Lisa enjoyed a family liaison of their own down a back alley. Something both quickly come to regret.
Does Lisa ‘fess up nice and early and save herself a whole heap of trouble? Of course not. She keeps schtum about her fisherman friend and decides instead to try and cover it all up, manipulate things, tamper with CCTV evidence and risk chucking away her career. As you do.
Lisa has more in common with the missing children’s mother Jess Meredith (This is England‘s excellent BAFTA-winning Chanel Cresswell) than just a taste in men. She also has a pair of teenage children that go to the same school as the twins: straight-A student Rob (Art Parkinson) and acid-tongued Abbie (Imogen King) – the latter getting the lion’s share of the funny lines in Wednesday night’s debut episode. We look forward to more of those from her in the coming weeks.
As we opened by saying, early signs are very much that this is a ‘Morecambe Broadchurch’. But look beyond the clear resemblance and there’s much more to The Bay than just a whiff of Colman n’ Tennant in a Lancashire setting. It looks like Being Human‘s award-winning screenwriter Daragh Carville – on writing duties here – might well have a hit on his hands.
Early signs are rather promising indeed.
What did you make of The Bay episode 1? Share your thoughts with us below in the comments…
We left the opener of last week’s new Broadchurch-like ITV crime drama The Bay with the stepdad of the two missing kids in handcuffs, after young Dylan Meredith turned from ‘missing’ to ‘dead’. Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong), whose alibi partly involves a secret sexual tryst with the case’s lead detective, is questioned here in episode 2, but soon released without charge.
The show’s writers wasted no time in replacing Sean with another lead suspect, though. Stepping into the spotlight was about as red a herring as a TV police type is likely to catch… A ‘local man with a learning disability’. While it’s zoologically impossible, Nick here will no doubt prove to be both a red herring and something of a scapegoat.
We soon discovered that Lisa wasn’t the only young lady Sean was ‘attending to’ on the night his stepchildren went missing. He also popped in for an intimate visit with his friend and colleague’s wife Hanna (Ellie Duckles) that night.
“I don’t know where you get the energy, to be honest,” Lisa spat at him after learning of his second knee-trembler of the evening. “You’ve got stamina, I’ll give you that…”
Must be all that sea air.
For her part, Scottish actress Morven Christie (Grantchester, The A Word) has been excellent so far here. As DS Lisa Armstrong she’s the lead investigator – and main Family Liaison Officer – involved in this high profile missing persons/murder case in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe. Her Lisa is sympathetic to the family and dogged in her work. But she’s not a very sympathetic character herself, though. And we kind of like that.
What makes Armstrong such a well-rounded and believable character are her flaws. She may be good at her job – when she’s not tampering with evidence to cover up the fact that she had alleyway ‘relations’ with one of the case’s main suspects – but she’s also often pretty rude and all but bullies her fumbling young buck partner Med. Plus let’s not forget that she’s probably only one missed PTA meeting away from officially being classed a negligent mother.
Onto Lisa’s kids then, both of which are on the cusp of being led astray…
Spiky and quick-witted Abbie – played by Imogen King who’s excellent here – has found herself caught up with a handsome older lad called Vincent who’s wasted no time in getting her to work as a drug mule. Meanwhile, Abbie’s brother Rob (Art Parkinson), a more nervous and sensitive soul, is involved with an anonymous internet pal that goes by the hilarious handle of ‘Bantersaurus Rex’ on social media. Rob seems to be mixed up in some kind of weird dare-based game that sees him doing daft things like filming himself stealing a bottle of vodka from an offy and uploading the footage online.
Kids these days, eh?
We’ll have to wait to find out how these side plots connect to the twins. If indeed they do. And they almost certainly do.
We reckon the discovery of the missing girl’s rucksack at the end of this second episode could well blow the case wide open… Well, as open as it’s going to get in its third episode, anyway.
All the ingredients are here and things are bubbling away nicely so far. This is no cheap potboiler, though. A thick, rich stew is bubbling up in The Bay. We look forward to next week’s serving.
Did you tune in for The Bay episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
WARNING: spoilers below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 2 here.
Line of Duty returned for a fifth series with a bang this week, opening with the daring armed robbery of a police convoy full of £10m worth of heroin. Some three days later, The Bay returned to ITV1 for a third episode with a heist of its own. A bank robbery, no less.
Okay, so it was just a food bank that was getting turned over. And instead of a hardened gang of balaclava-wearing criminals stealing millions, it was just a teenage boy running off with an armful of canned food. But still, theft is theft.
Of course, the central crime at the heart of this absorbing six-parter isn’t the larceny of half a dozen tins of spaghetti hoops. There’s the very serious business of the death of Dylan Meredith and the disappearance of his twin sister Holly to concern ourselves with.
Initial suspicion fell on the siblings’ stepdad Sean (Jonas Armstrong), but unfolding events and his subsequent behaviour has all but eliminated him as a person of real interest to lead investigator and family liaison officer DS Lisa Armstrong (Ordeal by Innocence’s Morven Christie).
Last week, local lad with learning disabilities Nick (Matthew McNulty) entered the fray as a suspect, but exits it here as it becomes clear that he has the very classy and totally not embarrassing motive of ‘buying fags for his mum at the time’. Things aren’t really looking up for Nick, however. He’s soon snatched by an angry Sean, who – along with Ryan and Krzysztof – is keen to find out what he knows about what happened to the twins. Nick refuses to divulge anything and ends up being dropped off at the local A&E a beaten and bloodied mess.
Ryan arouses Lisa’s suspicions later too with his red striped trainers, bravado and history of violence towards Dylan. Could he be involved somehow?
We mentioned in our review of episode 2 that we thought the contents of Holly’s washed-up rucksack could well contain a clue or two, and we were soon proved right. Eight grand in cash and a burner phone have police intrigued but scratching their heads. Might it be that Dylan and Holly were caught up in the drug running that Vincent has sucked Lisa’s daughter Abbie into?
Back to the (food) bank robbery and it appeared to usher in the end of Lisa’s son Rob and his adventure with a rather odd social media-based dare game. At least for now, anyway. Rob may be out of his troubles, but Abbie’s only just getting into hers. A Jiffy bag full of Class A narcotics flushed down the toilet usually has consequences in these kinds of crime dramas. And not normally very nice ones.
Halfway in and this tidy little series is running along at a perfect pace and features several impressive performances. There’s the odd jarring line or slightly unrealistic scene here and there, but altogether this is a solid crime/family drama from ITV and a welcome addition to the Wednesday night schedule.
The Bay has finally stepped out of the shadows of its spiritual older sibling Broadchurch and shown it has a unique feel and style all of its own. There’s no cheap rug-pulling in terms of shocks or twists, either. Events unfold at a reasonable and realistic pace. Nor is there any showboating here – just logical and organic plot progression.
We are left on something of a shocker here, though… There’s blood under Dylan’s fingernails – his sister’s blood.
Holly Meredith is now the main suspect in her twin brother’s murder.
What were your thoughts on The Bay episode 3? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below…
WARNING: Spoilers below. Catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.
When The Bay first started on ITV1 a little over a month ago, we billed it very much as a kind of Broadchurch Lite. It made sense at the time – there are the missing kid(s), the scenic seaside setting, the strong-willed female detective, the washed-up body and the cast of slippery, suspicious characters. One month later though, we take it all back. Well, most of it, anyway…
Northern Irish writer Daragh Carville’s crime drama hasn’t tickled the zeitgeist in quite the same way that Broadchurch did three times since 2013, but in terms of quality? The Bay is every bit as good. If not – whisper it – slightly superior.
Young Dylan Meredith is dead, we’ve known that for some time. The hunt for his killer has been somewhat sidetracked by the even more pressing need to find his missing twin sister Holly. Is she dead? Or in hiding because she killed her sibling? By the end of this fourth episode we at least discover that she’s alive, anyway. She is, of course, locked away in an old abandoned swimming pool for some reason. We can’t believe that DS Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) took so long to work that out…
What tipped her off about the teenager’s lido living? Well, we’re led to believe that perhaps Nick Mooney (Matthew McNulty) is keeping her there. But having a beaten-up man with learning disabilities, who is a full-time carer to his wheelchair-bound mother, as The Bad Guy is a stretch too far for us. We assume he knew Holly’s whereabouts because she simply confided in him. We think she’s hiding from someone. Her brother’s killer, presumably.
The Meredith twins found themselves in hot Morecambe Bay water and got burned. They’re not the only ones, though. Lisa’s kids are struggling to keep afloat in similarly murky waters…
Abbie, it seems, is really up to her neck it. Caught up in the drug-dealing antics of the manipulative and violent Vincent, she’s breaking serious laws and putting herself in grave danger in lots of different ways. It’s a situation you can imagine any number of young people being drawn into in real life.
Slightly less realistic is the drama’s one bum note – Rob Armstrong’s plot thread. The whole ‘online dare’ thing just doesn’t ring particularly true. Especially in light of the Momo Challenge news story, which turned out to be nothing more than a hoax and scare story. The peer pressure on ‘TheGryd79’ making Rob commit illegal acts and the subsequent blackmail seems crow-barred in to make some sort of social point that barely needs making. It does nothing more than jar with the rest of this otherwise excellent crime drama.
Sean, Ryan, Nick, Vincent, Krzysztof… All are suspects. But none convince. The Bay is certainly keeping us on our toes here. If we had to guess, we’d say there’s something fishy about the seaside town’s bigwig Councillor Hesketh. We expect him to come into the picture in the remaining two hours of this top quality ITV1 offering.
We also anticipate Lisa and Sean’s tryst-based secret will come back to bite the pair of them on their formerly gyrating bums. There’s no way she can get away with all that evidence tampering, is there? Who knows.
If there’s one thing we do know for certain, though… Olivia Colman’s DS Ellie Miller would NEVER have slipped down an alley for a quick bunk-up on a night out. So that’s one major difference between Broadchurch and The Bay right there.
Did you tune in for The Bay episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
WARNING: spoilers below. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 4 here.
Another clever and tense episode here has really set us up for next week’s finale…
With a little cajoling and prodding, Lisa was able to get the whereabouts of missing girl Holly Meredith (Darci Shaw) out of Nick at the end of last week’s instalment of The Bay. She then led a search team to an abandoned holiday camp where the young girl was holed up, sat shivering on a filthy mattress.
So, then. Holly is alive and well. And, it turns out, pregnant.
Pregnant by who, though? Well, we don’t find that out here in episode 5. But it could well be central to cracking the case. Our guess? The manager of the youth centre.
With Holly facing a barrage of questions about what happened on the night of her disappearance and Dylan’s death – she eventually drops a bombshell. A rather enormous one, in fact. At least it would be if it were really believed by anyone. Dylan’s killer, according to Holly? Holly herself. She claims he died after hitting his head. An accident caused by the two of them fighting. A likely story? Not according to DS Lisa Armstrong. The police strongly suspect she’s covering for someone else.
In what’s been a very believable and realistic side story so far, Lisa’s teenage daughter Abbie discovered that drug dealing isn’t quite as glamorous as, well, no one really thinks it is. A drop-off to some addicts in a crack den goes south and she has to call her school pal Sam to come and rescue her. And rescue her he does. The young lad goes full Liam Neeson here. In doing so, he demonstrates quite the fondness for violence. Which is all rather suspicious at this stage, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, Abbie’s brother Rob is in a whole heap of his trouble of his own. Luckily his family are quite understanding when he’s arrested for trying to fence his grandmother’s prized rings. A surprise, given his mother is a police detective and all. As with most of Rob’s plot thread so far, the teenager’s motivations here were slightly skewed. Little of the online dare idea has really convinced here. Thankfully, it’s only been a minor diversion from the main plot.
Back at the station and Med’s had enough of being pushed around by Lisa and decides to do a little investigating of his own. Suspicious about her fiddling around with CCTV footage and evidence tampering, he finds the USB drive in her drawer. File deleted, he tracks down the original pub video and discovers Lisa’s secret back alley tryst with Sean Meredith.
Med decides to confront Lisa about her actions and, bang to rights, she has to admit what she did. As she does so, the twins’ mother – and Sean’s wife – Jess overhears. In truth, it’s a rather cliched scene straight from a soap opera and below the quite lofty standards set by The Bay so far. It’s a rare dip in quality, so we’ll excuse it.
We close with Lisa suspended and a killer still very much on the loose. This penultimate episode didn’t really move us all that much closer to that killer’s identity. The list of suspects is still as long as the Morecambe Bay coastline…
Next week one of them will emerge as Dylan’s murderer. Who will it be?
We genuinely haven’t got a clue, even at this point. Not to brag, but when you watch as much crime drama on TV as we do, you get pretty adept at spotting the bad guy. The Bay, however, is keeping us guessing until the very end. That’s testament to the smart writing on show here from series creator Daragh Carville.
We’re sure there’s more than a few twists left for next week’s big climax. What they’ll be, though? We’ve no idea…
Did you tune in for The Bay episode 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 5 here.
Well, then. The Bay. To begin with, there was plenty about this six-part ITV1 series to make us all think we were in for something of a Broadchurch rip-off. We certainly thought so initially. Daragh Carville’s crime drama had all the hallmarks of a lazy take-off off the Olivia Colman smash hit. How wrong we were.
There was the eerily similar plot, strong female lead, coastal setting and the whodunit nature of events. But it didn’t take much before us viewers saw there was more to The Bay than a simple northern rehashing of the popular Dorset-set show. This had more than enough about it to set itself apart. Thankfully nothing here in this sixth – and final – part is likely to make any viewer think otherwise.
If there’s something that the majority of modern television crimers are, it’s bleak. Cynicism reigns supreme. Everyone is out for themselves and extreme violence is in almost every character’s arsenal. Not so in Morecambe, though. Even by this superior drama’s final scene we’re left fully aware that sometimes – just sometimes – chaos and sadness and horror just happens. Because life happens. There doesn’t always need to be design behind Bad Things.
For those of you yet to watch this finale, we’ll spare you the specifics. Suffice to say that there’s no real ‘bad guy’, as such. Sure, there’s a killer. But it’s not straightforward. That’s life, though – grey areas exist. Tragedy and culpability don’t always make for natural bedfellows.
Our main antagonist, DS Lisa Armstrong (played by Morven Christie, who was hugely impressive throughout the entire series) isn’t an entirely innocent figure herself. Personally and professionally compromised by her affair with Sean Meredith, she was rarely a sympathetic character. But again, that’s life. People are complicated and sometimes difficult to side with. But mostly? They want to do good.
To the plot (which we’ll carry on trying not to spoil). The main arc was resolved in a pretty satisfying manner, even if not having a twisted psycho to jeer at is somewhat unsatisfying in itself. Most peripheral plot threads were tied up in nice neat little bows too, although Rob’s online dare thing – as it had been all series – went nowhere. It was a rare misstep in what was an otherwise classy affair.
Altogether, this was no generic run-of-the-mill thriller. To casual eyes it may have seemed to have been, but The Bay’s Broadchurch-lite veneer was just that – a veneer. In reality, it was more interested in people and stories and issues. It asked more of its audience than just a simple ‘who’s guilty?’ It posed moral questions about modern society in a realistic context.
We won’t lie, the pay-off here lacked a certain something. While grounded and believable, there was little in the way of palpable tension in this finale. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the high drama of programming like Line of Duty of late. Maybe not all TV needs to constantly pull the rug on us. Even so, you can help but leave The Bay a smidgen underwhelmed. But just a smidgen.
This was mostly quality television though, all three hours of it. There’s very little scope or need for a follow-up second series and what a great thing that is. Not everything needs a sequel.
Did you tune in for The Bay episode 6? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…