Broadchurch, Endeavour, Vera… ITV know a thing or two about creating a cracking crime drama, and The Bay looks set to continue that trend
The Bay, Wednesday 20 March, 9pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available for 7 days in Catch Up > Channels > ITV Hub
The bay in question is the windswept Lancashire community of Morecambe Bay. The mystery to be solved is the disappearance of teenage twins. Family liaison officer Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) is dispatched to support the family, including mum Chanel Cresswell (This Is England) and step-dad Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood), through their ordeal. But it soon becomes clear that Lisa is linked to the case in a way that compromises the police investigation – something she’s keeping to herself.
For Christie, who’s appeared in Grantchester, Ordeal By Innocence and The A Word, playing a family liaison officer was a chance to explore a position in the police force that is vital, if not always visible.
“It’s a fascinating role,” she says. “I did a lot of research around FLOs (family liaison officers). Things like the April Jones case and the Shannon Matthews case. I was looking at it from the perspective of that person coming in to help the mother of the missing children – and also investigating the family.”
“It’s a way, dramatically, for the writer to get inside the family’s experience while keeping it in this investigative role. It brings the audience into the family’s world.”
Lisa’s primary focus is trying to find out where the missing kids are, but her personal involvement in the case presents a major challenge to her professionalism. According to Christie, writer Daragh Carville has given us a “human” character who is familiar in her flaws.
“Her morality is called into question in the first episode,” she says. “Lisa is trying to pull back the audience’s favour. It’s very real in terms of how it portrays people. At different stages you like people and then you really don’t like them. That’s what human beings do.”
And if Lisa didn’t already have enough on her plate, her home life isn’t exactly a picture of domesticity. With two teenage kids to take care of – including a rebellious daughter – her commitment to her job isn’t without consequences. But, as Christie discloses, her conversations with family liaison officers when researching the role revealed that a conflicted home life is not uncommon among officers.
“As a FLO, you’re literally always on call and they’ve all talked to me about how many family sacrifices they made, how many marriages have broken down, and the estrangement between them and their children. Lisa is so engaged by her job – and so knackered by her job – she’s not really paying a huge amount of attention to what’s going on at home. She’s just trying to crack on.”
Any crime drama worth its salt has a script filled with twists and turns, and The Bay is no different. The makers of hit crime drama Broadchurch famously didn’t tell the cast how the show was going to play out, but did Christie insist on knowing what was going to happen in this series?
“Lots of people didn’t know but I really insisted on knowing,” she admits. “I don’t need the answers to the investigative questions, but I needed to know who I was playing. There were still many, many surprises however as the scripts came in.”
Speaking of crime dramas, Christie admits she can’t get enough of the genre – despite being late to the party on one particular series. “I never used to be into crime drama but recently I’ve been besotted with it. I’ve been watching True Detective but I also watched all four series of Line Of Duty in one binge. I was so grateful that I’d never seen it because I could watch it all together. It’s an extraordinary show.”
Just like the crime dramas Christie is now a fan of, The Bay is primed to have viewers across the country glued to their seats – and it’s just the latest in a long line of primetime shows that the actress has appeared in. Here, we round up five of her defining roles.
Morven Christie’s 5 defining roles
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