Morven Christie is back in the north-west of England for her new series.
After filming two series of The A Word in the Lake District, the Scot’s new crime drama The Bay is set in Morecambe.
Christie plays DS Lisa Armstrong, a family liaison officer assigned to the case of missing teen twins.
Armstrong is trained never to get emotionally involved, her job is to support families during the worst time of their lives and act as the eyes and ears of the police investigation – a cuckoo in the nest.
But there’s something very different about this particular case and, with horror, she realises she’s got a personal connection with this frightene d family, one that could compromise her and the investigation.
Christie says: “Lisa’s incredibly good at her job but she’s also just a normal single mum with two teenage kids who likes to have a laugh with her mates.
“However, those elements crash together at the beginning of the story and she spends the rest of the drama trying to clean that up.
“I spent quite a lot of time with some detectives before we started filming, one of whom was an FLO.
“When I first met them, they said there’s an joke that ‘You’re not a real cop until you’ve got at least one divorce under your belt’.
“They talked about just how much gets sacrificed for the job because it is so full-on and it can take over your life.
“I think Lisa is a brilliant example of that, a really honest portrayal of a female police detective who is juggling family life with a senior role that carries a lot of responsibility.
“We’re used to seeing male detectives in crime drama and portrayals of them almost as superheroes. But with Lisa we see her in the midst of making a mess of her own life.
“In reality she’s just a normal woman in her 30s that’s single and trying to live and work and keep her head above water.
“I think that’s a much more honest depiction of what working parents go through.
“Things do end up getting sacrificed when people like Lisa work as hard as they do to keep their family going.
“Working with the detectives, what I was most interested in was how you play this dynamic, where you are primarily an investigator yet have to become close to a family and be their support – especially as I learned that 90% of the time the answers come from inside the family.
“I was fascinated to understand that strange balance of really being a support while constantly surveying behaviour and analysing details you are privy to because you are embedded within the family.
“I wanted to know if the officers felt devious, which they didn’t because they were always straightforward with their families from the beginning.
“I don’t feel like we’ve seen this particular female lead role before. I think a lot of the time with crime dramas, it’s all about the audience trying to figure out who did it and there is a place for that, of course.
“However, I think it’s quite a unique angle to take into the heart of this family’s feelings and to actually see the investigator be directly affected by what that family are going through.”
On the series’ setting, Christie adds: “Morecambe is a unique backdrop and I hope audiences get how much soul the town has. It felt like a really unique choice.
“Morecambe reminds me a lot of the towns I grew up in. Like many other seaside resorts across the UK, they were booming towns for a while and then they weren’t.
“I think visually Morecambe is so distinct because it’s a seaside town that’s not like the Lake District – that you can see across the way – which is full of wealthy, middle-class walkers.
“It’s not like Blackpool down the road where people go for stags and hens. It’s this place that most people have heard about more because of the immigrant cockle pickers who drowned in 2004.
“I talked with a lot of the local community who had plenty to tell me about the council mergers which resulted in money pouring out of Morecambe into neighbouring counties.
“It’s really important to set stories in these towns because that is the reality of the country that we’re living in. There is a massive divide between people doing well and people who are not.
“But there’s so much love in this story. I think that what’s really important is the strength of family.”
The Bay begins on ITV, Wednesday March 20, 9pm.