If I’m being totally honest, I really didn’t think the world needed another series of The Bay, ITV’s tale of family liaison officer Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) based in the north-England seaside town of Morecambe.
It’s not to say series one was bad, but its central premise (that Armstrong had had a one-off sexual dalliance with the prime suspect in a double-murder case that she had kept quiet about) was one procedural stretch too far.
So a second series was a surprise, but here we are.
All that being said, this second run certainly started in explosive and violent fashion.
At a family barbecue to celebrate Bill Bradwell’s retirement (played by James Cosmo), daughter Rose (Sharon Small) and son-in-law Stephen (Stephen Tompkinson) got things going in the garden. With guests enjoying the balmy weather and the coastal setting, there was a knock on the door. The Marshbrook’s young son Oliver opened the door, where a delivery man asked specifically for Stephen. When he came to the door, the delivery man pulled out a gun fitted with a silencer and pulled the trigger.
So the question is this: who would assassinate a seemingly normal man, from a normal family?
(It’s an odd thing to hire an actor of Tompkinson’s experience and status and then kill him off within the first five minutes, so I’m guessing he will pop up in flashbacks.)
On the case straight away is the family liaison team of Lisa and Med (Taheen Modak), but because of events from the last series, Lisa is sidelined and not trusted. However, as we all could probably guess, she begins to get more and more involved in the case and challenge Med’s inexperience. Alongside the case, we see Lisa’s chaotic home life (she’s had to downgrade and move house) and meet her two teenage children (who got into all sorts of predictable trouble in series one), and then her estranged ex-partner turns up out of the blue.
However, it’s the case that is taking up all of Lisa’s time and energy (again).
The Marshbrooks run a family solicitor firm, once headed up by Bill, and now staffed by Stephen and Rose, with Rose’s brother Mark (Shetland’s Steve Robertson) also working there (but not a partner). Stephen and Rose have two more kids, including estranged Grace.
So what’s going with this family? And was a there a case that they were involved with that has now come back to haunt them? (It certainly seemed that way when company papers were found in the barbecue. Did Stephen and/or Bill want to get rid of something?)
There are a lot of characters here and it feels like this series is going to wring every last drop of suspicion out of them. That’s fine, but at the moment the question is this: has episode one done enough to want us to process all of them, become emotionally invested in this story and see it through to the end?
I think it has, and a good-old whodunit may be just what we need at the moment.
READ MORE: ALL OUR NEWS AND REVIEWS OF THE BAY
Series two of The Bay airs in the UK on ITV, with all episodes available on ITV Hub