Scott & Bailey, Series 2, ITV1 | TV reviews, news & interviews
Scott & Bailey, Series 2, ITV1
A welcome return for Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones as the female tec duo
There are any number of television detective shows and to differentiate themselves they all need a USP. The excellent Sherlock is a very knowing modern reworking of the original, Life on Mars was set in a time warp, Dirk Gently uses weird global interconnectivity and Whitechapel's coppers solve crimes by referencing Victorian cases. So a cop show that has none of the bells and whistles of the above is somewhat unique.
That's sort of true, for Scott & Bailey has its own USP in its strong female slant. It's about two female detectives Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) and Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) who work in a Manchester murder squad headed by Amelia Bullmore's DCI Gill Murray (pictured below). It was co-created by Sally Wainwright (writer of the superb At Home With the Braithwaites) and former murder squad detective Diane Taylor from an idea by Jones and fellow actor Sally Lindsay, and its executive producer is Nicola Schindler. The strong distaff element and the melding of crime stories and the detectives' personal lives means that Scott & Bailey has been dubbed the British Cagney and Lacey, but even Jones and Sharp's greatest fans would hesitate to say the British show matches the iconic heights reached by Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly.
Comparisons – fair or otherwise - aside, Scott & Bailey, in not striving to be iconic or edgy, manages to be thoroughly entertaining. In last night's nicely paced second-series opener (the first of a two-parter) the badly burned body of a disabled man was found in a remote part of Manchester and the post mortem showed that he was tortured before he was killed.Then when another badly burned corpse was found, the squad realised they had a serial murderer on their hands and had to find him before he struck again.
Streamed through the cop work scenes are the women's personal stories, which were neatly teed up last night to become horribly tangled during the series, no doubt. Janet's marriage is on the rocks and she has to cope with long hours, the joys of two teenage daughters and having her elderly mother move in while she's recuperating from an operation.
Janet's mum and her husband don't get on and besides, she sort of fancies a bloke at work – all of this information shared with Rachel in the police station's loos (surely a homage to Cagney and Lacey, I do hope so) – where Rachel can tell her about meeting an old flame, Sean (Sean Maguire) who has returned from serving in London's Metropolitan Police because, he quips, “it was full of southerners”. What Rachel hasn't told Janet is that her estranged brother (Liam Boyle) has turned up on her doorstep after 10 years because he's been banged up for armed robbery. It may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned....
Scott and Bailey's relationship is nicely drawn - Scott is logical and sensible, while Bailey is impulsive and intuitive - and they are neither ridiculously strong nor weepily vulnerable. Their gender, meanwhile, is barely mentioned. Another joy is the relationship between Murray and DCI Dodson (Pippa Haywood), her oppo on another major incident team. Their exchanges are very funny and believably written, full of nicknames, saucy banter and mickey-taking humour. “I've got a toyboy,” Dodson says, getting the instant rejoinder, “You know your mum's paying him to go out with you.”
It's all believable, actually, even allowing for the necessarily compressed timeframe in which murders are committed and villains have their collars felt. The script produces a good few laughs, the police procedures look the part, and in Bullmore and Sharp we get to see two of the more subtly expressive actresses working today. A pleasing Monday-night entertainment.
- Scott & Bailey continues on Mondays on ITV1
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Further down the road to perdition with Tommy Shelby and family
Scandi-style midsummer murders sets us up for series two
How 2,000-year-old trade routes carried merchandise, ideas and inventions between Europe and China
Vicki McClure takes charge in pulsating showdown to round off gripping series
How did all the roads in the ancient world end up leading to Rome?
Sympathetic documentary throws new light on a woefully familiar topic
How the Bard has become part of our collective movie memory
Racism, mutual mistrust and murder in fraught Swedish drama
Slightly wearisome jog down memory lane with the royal home movies
She was the most gifted comedian of her generation, male or female
Veteran entertainers recall the music that changed their lives
Posh doc about East Anglian farmer clinging to the wreckage provides blameless fun