As popular ITV crime series returns to screens next week, its creator is ‘hopeful’ a drama will be set here
The creator of ITV crime series The Bay has said he would love to set a new drama in Northern Ireland.
Co Armagh man Daragh Carville, who lives in Lancaster with his family, is already working on several projects that would shoot here and says “plans are afoot” to develop them into something concrete for screen.
Carville was speaking ahead of the premiere of series three of The Bay, which begins next Wednesday.
The previous two seasons proved hugely successful for ITV and also led to a 71% surge in searches for properties in the seaside town of Morecambe, where the show is set.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Carville said: “I would love to do something set in Northern Ireland.
“At the moment, I’m in the early stages of developing one or two things that would be based there.
“Living in Lancaster and so close to Morecambe means I have been writing in the voice of this place but my natural voice as a writer is based in Northern Ireland and specifically Armagh.
“Plans are afoot and I’m hopeful will go ahead.”
In The Bay, the setting of Morecambe plays a pivotal role. Since the drama’s first series was aired in 2019, interest in property in the town has rocketed. According to Rightmove, the Lancashire resort recorded a bigger seven-day increase in online searches than anywhere else in the UK, following the airing of series two last January. And searches for holiday homes to rent were also up 22% over the same period.
Carville, whose own home looks out towards the bay of Morecambe, said he was delighted that viewers had taken the series to their hearts and that he had always hoped it would help put the town back on the map
“Morecambe reminds me of some seaside places in Northern Ireland; a bit forgotten about,” he said.
“I wanted to showcase what an amazing place it is and as far as I understand, searches for properties have gone through the roof, which is surprising but great.
“Morecambe has dual qualities; a toughness but a vulnerability. It has beautiful landscapes, the bay, the sunsets, but it also has a grittiness and I think the show really captures those aspects.”
Series three, which Carville says is his favourite to date, sees a new Family Liaison Officer join the team. DS Jenn Townsend, played by Cobra star Marsha Thomason, replaces DS Lisa Armstrong, who was portrayed by Morven Christie in series one and two.
DS Townsend is immediately thrown into the deep end when the body of an aspiring young boxer, Saif Rahman, is found in the bay on her first day in the job. It is up to her to get close to his grieving and complicated family if she has any chance of solving his murder.
The new recruit is also eager to prove herself to the team, but the pressure is intensified when her new blended family struggles to settle in Morecambe.
Carville says that while he loved writing for the character of Lisa and was sad to see Christie go, he is excited to see the audience reaction to Thomason.
“It feels like I've started from scratch with this series,” he said.
“Obviously we have a new family but having a new Family Liaison Officer (FLO) means it feels fresher, too.
“We saw some brilliant actors for the part of the new FLO but with Marsha, it was a slam dunk. She has all the characteristics for the role. A FLO must be tough on one hand, as they’re dealing with families going through the hardest situations, so they need armour to prevent them from being destroyed.
“But on the other hand, they must be warm and empathetic, with glimpses of vulnerability. Marsha herself has all those qualities and that combination made her right for the role.”
Having focused on a working-class family on the fringes of Morecambe in series one and a middle-class family from the leafy suburbs in two, Carville was keen to feature an Asian family in series three.
To tell their story with authenticity, he brought a young, up-and-coming writer, Furquan Akhtar, on board as story consultant. But while the series features many new faces, it also sees the return of familiar ones, too, including Dan Ryan as DI Tony Manning, who is right at the heart of the show.
“I love writing for Dan’s character,” he said. “And I love what Dan does with the character.
“Family is such a huge part of The Bay – we talk about the family of the victim and the Flo’s family life, but there’s also the police family, too, and Manning is the dad of them all.
“We’ve some great actors this series; Gary Lewis, Mark Stanley, Vincent Regan, Rina Mahoney. We’re lucky that viewers have responded so well to the show as it means we can get this level of actor coming in.
“We’ve put our all into this series and have no way of knowing how the audience will respond but for a number of reasons, I think it’s the best one to date.”
The Bay (season three) returns on Wednesday, January 12 at 9pm on ITV.