When I saw the previews of Scott and Bailey on ITV, my expectations weren’t high. Sure, it would be decent enough Sunday night telly, but probably leave you with that sense of slight disappointment that formulaic detective dramas often do. I was wrong. This is good stuff.
Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) and Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) are believable characters played with immense sensitivity. Either of these actors brings something classy to a TV drama. Together, they make for compulsive viewing.
Lesley Sharp’s portrayal of Scott informing a husband that his missing wife was almost certainly the woman they had found raped and murdered in the boot of her car, was a revelation. It should be used for police training purposes demonstrating how to convey devastating news with honesty and compassion.
Suranne Jones plays Bailey, duped and dumped by her boyfriend of two years (Rupert Graves), with a mixture of scary anger and touching vulnerability. The scene mentioned above was enhanced by her sideways glances at the murdered woman’s grieving son as he sobbed on the sofa. It was a simple thing, but beautifully observed.
I’m no police officer but this seems more believable than many crime dramas. They work in a team, there are resentments and tensions, but also humour evident, and the dialogue is convincing.
There aren’t any of the lengthy and often ridiculous ‘whodunnit’ scenarios often seen in other programmes where by the time the murderer is revealed, you couldn’t care less who it was. In episode 2, the murderer was caught within the first fifteen minutes by Bailey spotting his stolen wristwatch and shifty manner in a routine house to house enquiry of the neighbourhood. The main focus was on the gradual revelation that the murderer’s mother had covered up an earlier hideous crime that he’d committed, and the reactions of the detectives as the full story becomes clear.
Of course, no crime drama is complete without a complicated homelife for the detective/s. In this case, Scott is bored with her geography teacher husband and has had a brief fling with a colleague. She refers to her daughter moaning with period pains as ‘Lady Gaga’. Bailey struggles with the decision whether to keep her baby or not, having discovered that she’s nine weeks pregnant by her married ex (she didn’t know he was married at the time).
There is an ongoing story line about Scott trying to trace a missing girl who she’d been friends with and who’d disappeared thirty years previously. It’s an unsolved case that the girl’s brother has now asked her to re-open. This was a very similar plot line to one in Case Histories on BBC1 at the same time. Having recorded Scott and Bailey, and watched it straight after Case Histories, there was a moment or two when the two plots merged in my mind somewhat, and I was wondering when the two detectives would stumble across Jackson Brodie and discover the missing girl on the other channel. A strong cup of tea, and I sorted myself out with no harm done.
So, ITV have done well with this. Stick the two most watchable female TV actors you can imagine in a well written, witty and interesting crime drama, and serve at 9.00pm on a Sunday evening. This could very well catch on.
Posted by: Our Man In The South