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TV review: The Bay, ITV, episodes one and two: Broadchurch up North CONTAINS SPOILERS

PUBLISHED: 12:35 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:35 29 March 2019

Morven Christie as Lisa Armstrong - standing on a beach in Baychurch. Broadbay. The Bay. Whatever (C) ITV

Morven Christie as Lisa Armstrong - standing on a beach in Baychurch. Broadbay. The Bay. Whatever (C) ITV

ITV

A recap of episodes one and two of ITV's The Bay and the questions that need answering in episode three

Art Parkinson as Rob Armstrong, one of Lisa's wayward children (C) ITVArt Parkinson as Rob Armstrong, one of Lisa's wayward children (C) ITV

I had high hopes that ITV’s The Bay would be a series based on the horror film in which toxic chicken poo dumped in the sea causes a quick-spreading disease that leads to ridiculously gory and revolting deaths.

It’s not. It’s Broadchurch up north with considerably more affordable homes and a better claim to spinning jennies.

The similarities are striking: dead or missing teenagers, a pair of mismatched detectives, a seaside backdrop full of brooding, shifty locals, a body washed up on the shore and maverick policing (are there any upstanding police officers on TV?).

Morven Christie is family liaison officer DS Lisa Armstrong who is assigned to the parents of the missing teenage twins Dylan and Holly at which point she discovers, hashtag awkward, that she had a drunken knee-trembler with dad Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong) in an alleyway the night before.

Imogen King as Abbie Armstrong, police officer's daughter and drug mule (C) ITVImogen King as Abbie Armstrong, police officer's daughter and drug mule (C) ITV

Having already seen Armstrong talk on the phone while driving possibly under the influence of the night before’s booze, it’s no great surprise that her immediate reaction is to act as if he’s a complete stranger and basically hinder the investigation from the moment she walks through the door.

She out-hinders herself though when she deletes CCTV of the alley action and in doing so also deletes Sean’s alibi.

Back at home, Lisa has two shifty locals of her own, kids Abbie (shifty at school and in derelict arcades) and Rob (shifty online) both of whom appear to know more than they’re letting on, although frankly every teenager fits that description.

When Dylan’s body is discovered on the beach, Sean rushes to the shore to see him (we’ve found out by now that Sean isn’t the twins’ biological father and the ‘murderer’ klaxon has sounded in our heads). Lisa’s boss thinks this means the finger of suspicion is pointing firmly towards Sean and he’s arrested.

Sean Meredith is arrested (C) ITVSean Meredith is arrested (C) ITV

The moral after episode one? Don’t have a one-night stand. Ever.

In episode two, we discover that if The Bay is a Broadchurch-a-like, it’s Broadchurch on steroids: not only are there two teenage victims, Sean didn’t just have a bunk-up with Armstrong on the night the twins went missing, he also managed to fit in a tryst with the woman he’s having an affair (Hanna, played by Ellie Duckles) with AND he’s got a pregnant wife, Jess. That’s dedication.

“I don’t know where you get the energy, to be honest,” DS Armstrong told Sean, “you’ve got stamina, I’ll give you that.”

Mother-in-law Margaret (played by professional brooder Tracie Bennett) stuck the knife into Sean too by telling Armstrong that he was “not a great improvement” on the twins’ biological dad Lee, (who gave/sold a newspaper his story) and that he was never around, presumably because he’s got a range of other women on the go and rampant infidelity takes time.

We discovered that on the night the twins went missing, he was supposed to have picked them up – instead, he was picking up police officers in alleys.

Meanwhile, we have learned a little more about said police officer’s children, who are, if we are being kind “troubled” or if we’re not “trouble-makers” – one (Abbie, played by Imogen King) is being groomed by drug dealer Vincent to be a mule, the other (Rob, Art Parkinson) appears to be involved in some kind of online shenanigans involving him carrying out illegal dares for a bloke called Bantersaurus Rex (snigger) while filming himself.

It all makes me feel very old and also as if family liaison officer Armstrong could possibly spend a little more time liaising with her own family.

Having left Sean in handcuffs with an alibi that involves the woman “helping” his family navigate the police procedure, it wasn’t long before a second suspect reared his head, a good old police procedural trope, namely “bloke who’s a bit of a loner with a learning difficulty”, or in other words “bloke we know won’t have done it”.

Nick Mooney (Matthew McNulty) is now under suspicion and in police custody after taking a card to Jess and Sean’s house saying “I’m sorry” and being seen on CCTV at the local youth club arguing with Dylan and then cycling in the direction of the pier, where Dylan was found. As I said, there’s not a chance in hell hedunit.

Episode two closed as missing twin Holly’s rucksack was found (what will be in it?) as it appeared that Sean was about to run Nick over and after we discovered that Hanna, Sean’s other other woman is linked to human trafficking (genuinely, are ANY police dramas NOT going to include human trafficking as a theme this year?). Throw into the mix the argument between Rob’s friend Sam and Abbie and, of course, the big question of where Holly is? Could she still be alive?

Although the comparisons to Broadchurch are many (and they really are), just like Broadchurch, The Bay is an enjoyable hour of TV with some fantastic performances, in particular from Christie, who plays Armstrong beautifully, flaws and all.

Additionally, The Bay is stunning to look at, Lancashire benefitting from some flattering shots which the tourism board will be delighted with…if you discount the stuff about murder, drugs, shoplifting, bent coppers, local journalists ignoring the law to print stories we’d never get away with, human trafficking and sinister online bullying. Just brush over it.

* The Bay continues on ITV on Wednesdays at 9pm.

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