The female-led cop show has been given a new twist by Tall Story Pictures, makers of ITV’s new thriller The Bay, which premiered at an RTS North West event at the Lowry, Salford, in March.
Following the screening of episode one, executive producer Catherine Oldfield, co-creator and writer Daragh Carville, and actors Morven Christie and Daniel Ryan were on hand to discuss the show with ITV Granada Reports presenter Ann O’Connor.
Christie plays a detective sergeant and family liaison officer, who is embedded to offer support to the family of missing teenage twins, which allows her to investigate their disappearance from within.
In a TV market currently heavy on crime dramas, for Oldfield, who is also creative director of Tall Story Pictures, the pitch was “a no-brainer. It’s set in Morecambe where no-one has ever made a show before; and front and centre is a family liaison officer, which we haven’t seen before.”
Carville revealed that the idea had come from a news report where a “family thanked their family liaison officer, saying they’d never have got through [their ordeal] without her”.
The Bay’s star, Christie, was drawn to the role of DS Lisa Armstrong because “she’s a woman who does morally ambiguous things”. She said this was a brave choice because networks often fear that this female character type “won’t be liked by the audience”.
In fact, Oldfield praised ITV drama chief Polly Hill, who “has been an amazing champion of the show” since commissioning it “from a two-sentence verbal pitch”.
Filming in Morecambe brought challenges, forcing the director, cast and crew to adapt to the area’s weather delivering “four seasons in a day”. Ryan, who plays Armstrong’s boss, recounted how he and Christie had “a very important tender scene, scheduled to be shot outside the house”, in which they ended up shouting so loudly over the strong wind that the shoot was relocated to inside a car.
Oldfield, who has personal connections to Morecambe, chose to film in the Lancashire coastal town because of “the huge epic landscapes”, with the directors using drones to shoot over Morecambe Bay and the sands. She commended the “look” the director and director of photography brought to the show, which was inspired by the seaside pictures of photographer Martin Parr. Although, she added, “[I’d] never shoot on a boat again.”
When Carville highlighted the “rich sense of community [in Morecambe]” Oldfield agreed, considering The Bay to be “really heartland ITV. It feels like it reflects the world of the audience back to them.”
All photography by JesRPB photography