As I am not a woman I really don’t know how many secrets are traded in the ladies’ toilets out of the eardrop of us gentlemen but my female friends inform me that a lot of chat does go on there.
It certainly seems the case when watching the returning police drama Scott & Bailey whose opening scene features Amelia Bullmore’s DCI Gill Murray seeking guidance from her two colleagues about how to best deliver the speech she is about to give to the assembled TV cameras and local media.
The speech is enquiring for any information relating to a body of a man found burnt to death in local woodland that had been there for some time. The police don’t really waste much time identifying the man as Darren Rigby who was last seen in a local watering hole alongside Nadia Hicks – who is played by Lisa Riley (best known to most as Emmerdale’s Mandy Dingle). Nadia does have some link to the case but it’s up to Scott and Bailey to find out just what it is.
As with the first series, both of the women both have personal problems. For Suranne Jones’ Rachel Bailey it is the fact that her ne’er-do-well brother Dominic has just reappeared looking for somewhere to stay. And though she agrees to put him up, she wants him to hide the fact that he once served four years in prison for armed robbery. Meanwhile, Lesley Sharp’s Janet Scott is still with her rather dull husband, who has become infuriated with the fact that his wife’s mother is staying with them while she recovers from an operation. The tension at home is heightened by the fact that Janet is still occasionally seeking a cheeky snog with colleague Andy with whom she once had an affair.
It is the bond between the three women that are at the heart of Scott & Bailey whether they’re in the toilets or not. It is the scenes featuring Scott and Bailey bantering or talking to Gill in which the dialogue feels the most realistic and in this department is where screenwriter Sally Wainwright excels as she does have a good ear for everyday speech.
Take for example the scene in which Janet’s family are watching Gill on the TV. We see her mother talking about how much she admires Gill’s hair and teeth, while Janet talks about how Gill was chastising Rachel for leaving mouldy food in the fridge. Against all of this you see her husband Adrian just trying to watch and listen to what is being said.
I have to say for a drama there were more laughs here than in some sitcoms I have recently watched, especially one-liners like when a barman describes Nadia as ‘a wall with a fringe.’ There seem to have been improvements made especially with Rachel, who isn’t fretting over evil philandering barristers and instead has to deal with her scally brother who promises to find a job working in a restaurant before almost burning down his sister’s kitchen. Which isn’t an ideal advert for prospective employers.
The main problem I had was when the investigation was coming to its conclusion. The revelation of the motive and the introduction of some of the culprits happened so quickly it was like this wasn’t even important to the episode as a whole. Though I feel that that may be missing the point slightly as Scott & Bailey isn’t about women police officers, but about women who just happen to police officers. Their personal lives are just as important as the cases.
Three strong central performances and great chemistry between Sharp and Jones means that Scott & Bailey marks itself out as an involving, well-written character-driven police drama and overall a definite improvement on series one’s opening episode.