I personally find that some dramas can create believability purely based on the chemistry between the lead cast members. ITV’s police drama Scott and Bailey is definitely one of those programmes due to the great interaction between central actresses Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones. Now in its third series, Scott and Bailey combines well-written mysteries with realistic storylines involving our titular detectives. In the last series we saw Sharp’s Janet Scott separate from her husband while Jones’ Rachel Bailey finally decided to get in contact with her mother. Oddly this first episode sets events six months in the future, with both Janet and Rachel experiencing difficulty in their personal lives while they attempt to solve a very puzzling mystery.
The mystery in question involves a neighbour of Janet’s who informs of a dodgy smell emanating from another of the houses on her street. When the police enter the house they discover the body of Eunice Bevan at the top of the stairs and her head at the bottom. Eunice’s bed-ridden husband Joe is found alive however if he is malnourished and dehydrated so is rushed to the nearest hospital. Meanwhile formidable DCI Gill Murray is intent on getting to the heart of the case so makes sure she is able to track all of Eunice’s final movements. Janet and Rachel are tasked with researching the Bevan’s family history and discover that Joe and Eunice had four children. However the only one of the Bevan children who they can actively find is second eldest daughter Helen who hasn’t had any contact with her parents since she was fifteen. When Rachel tracks down Helen she doesn’t seem moved by the news that her mother has died which the police find odd. Meanwhile Joe, who is recovering in hospital, tells Janet that he heard Helen’s voice on the day that Eunice was killed. Eventually the police arrest an intoxicated Helen who is then viciously interrogated by Rachel who gets annoyed when Helen constantly changes her story. Though the police have seemingly already decided that Helen is guilty, there is a bit of a twist to the tale that surprises everyone.
Running alongside the murder investigation is the story of how Janet and Rachel are both coping with developments in their personal lives. Shockingly Rachel is now married to Sean however it seems that she is already tiring of married life. Rachel confides in Janet that she finds Sean incredibly dull and that she has been sleeping on the sofa as of late. Meanwhile Rachel also has contended with the fact that her mum is back in her life and in general is making it a bit of a misery. We see Rachel’s mother for the first time when she is in the pub, drunk and flashing her bra at all who are interested. Janet also has her own issues as her and Ade have now split up but are still living together until they can sell their house. As the episode goes on, Janet discovers that Ade is now seeing somebody and she admits she’s jealous as she wishes she were in love as well.
I found this opening episode of Scott and Bailey to be fairly jarring just in terms of how far the plot had moved along. I wasn’t expecting to see Rachel married or Janet having to put up with living with her ex-husband. Thankfully Sally Wainwright’s script explained all I need to know and also gave a great central investigatory story. What I really like about Wainwright’s writing is her ability to make all of the scenes with the detectives as believable as possible. Wainwright also gives us some great set pieces notably the interview scenes involving Rachel and Helen which I found incredibly compelling. I thought the reveal of who the murderer really was, was incredibly well-played with Wainwright building up to the final arrest. In between the hard-hitting police procedural segments are moments of comedy and genuine warmth as we see Rachel and Janet attempt to find happiness. This is easier said than done when one is living with her ex-husband while the other is a newly-wed whose marriage is already failing.
As I said at the beginning of the review the main reason for Scott and Bailey’s success is the chemistry between Jones and Sharp. I feel it is refreshing to have a friendship on screen between two women who aren’t of similar ages but have developed a personal relationship while working together. Sharp portrays Janet as the more grounded of the pair who is also able to use her initiative to solve cases. Meanwhile Jones presents Rachel as the flightier member of the duo who is easily bored and goes down to the pub when she wants to escape her life. One of the disappointments of this opening episode was that we didn’t get to see more of the fabulous Amelia Bullmore as Gill Murray. I found Bullmore to be one of the best things about series two and I do hope we see more of her as the series continues. Thankfully the cast was bulked up by the appearance of the ubiquitous Nicola Walker as the emotionally damaged Helen. I felt Walker stole every scene that she was in and was part of the reasons that the interview scenes were so compelling.
Overall this was a fine return for Scott and Bailey which retains all of the elements that has made it such a success. The chemistry between Sharp and Jones is better than ever while Sally Wainwright’s scripts mix great central mysteries with believable personal storylines. The only issue for me was the fact that we’ve jumped six months since we last saw Scott and Bailey’s lives on the screen. Luckily then, next week’s episode will take us back and show us Rachel’s wedding and how Janet’s marriage ended.
What did you think to Scott and Bailey? Are you glad to have it back? Leave Your Comments Below.