The actors, writer and producers of ITV drama The Bay tell us why it was set in Morecambe and what made the location so special.
The six-part drama starring Morven Christie and Jonas Armstrong is set in the coastal town of Morecambe in Lancashire (The Bay). When twins Holly and Dylan Meredith go missing, Family Liaison Officer Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) realises her connection to the family might be more than just professional.
Actor Daniel Ryan, who plays DI Anthony ‘Tony’ Manning: "Morecambe was an ideal setting for this story because you’ve got this extraordinary beautiful bit of coastline but within that there’s a sense of faded glory of a once prosperous town. When you pull back from the pretty seafront and you get into the lanes and the backstreets you realise it’s a town that, like lots of coastal towns around the country, has a kind of seedy underbelly. I think that sort of conflicts between its beautiful view and a terrible crime and the two work well together."
Writer Daragh Carville on setting the drama in Morecambe: "I wanted to write something set in Morecambe, very specifically. I live in Lancaster, which is just inland from Morecambe, and a couple of years ago I came across a post doing the rounds on social media. It was a map of the UK made up of TV shows. London was dense with show titles; Glasgow had Taggart, Liverpool had Brookside, Manchester had tons of things. The whole country was covered in drama and comedy except this corner that I happened to live in around the bay. I wanted to write something that’s set in this place where I’ve lived for the last ten years. It’s an interesting place and it’s beautiful but it’s also a place with problems. It’s somewhere that’s suffered a great deal from austerity. I love Morecambe and I’ve spoken to lots of people in Morecambe, since we’ve been filming there, and they’ve been incredibly accepting and warm, and excited about the show. I’m from Northern Ireland, but I’ve lived in Lancashire for the last 15 years. When I stand in that seaside town looking out across the Irish Sea it reminds me of my childhood and going to places like Warrenpoint which have that similar seaside vibe with a slightly faded grandeur."
What did you want to achieve by setting the story in Morecambe? "I wanted to tell a story within that community which is the community that I live in and I’m very close to. The landscapes there are absolutely stunning. It’s one of the things that instantly strikes you, the vistas out across the bay with the hills of the Lake District in the distance, but also the beautiful Edwardian architecture of the promenade itself, in Morecambe. It’s a very beautiful place, and it has the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen. So, I know we’ve captured a lot of the beauty of the place, while at the same time telling a gritty and sometimes dark, story.
"There is a danger in the tide as well and it all ties in. It’s so alluring and gorgeous to look at but then it shifts. Morecambe Bay is famous for its shifting tides and dangerous quicksands and what’s beneath the surface
"The Bay is not just the title of the show; it’s thematically and in every sense the heart of the show. And also, it has its metaphorical depths, about what’s happening under the surface. I hope that is all at play in the story we’re telling."
Executive producer Catherine Oldfield on the Morecambe location: “I was really excited about basing The Bay in Morecambe as I have a connection to the town and it really appealed to me to go back there. I have an aunt that lived there for many years and I’ve never seen it on screen. No one’s ever set a drama there and it is an exceptionally beautiful place. When scriptwriter Daragh Carville said it was set in Morecambe, which he can see out of his writing room on the top of a hill in Lancashire, where he lives, it was a no-brainer. There was no point looking anywhere else. Morecambe was it.
“The practicalities of filming in Morecambe are that you’re not near any crew bases, so we have to take everybody. The crew mostly came from Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. It’s a case of the whole circus going on the road and all the logistics of making that happen. But the value of what you get on screen in terms of the visual scale of Morecambe means it’s definitely worthwhile.
When you were going through the script did you need to make changes based on what’s possible in the locations you were filming? "You’ve always got to factor in the weather and in Morecambe Bay the weather changes very quickly. We also learnt some valuable lessons like filming on a boat is very difficult and very complicated. That was a lesson learnt and we won’t be doing anything else on a boat for a while."
Morven Christie says: “Morecambe is a unique backdrop and I hope audiences get how much soul the town has. It felt like a really unique choice for our setting, not least because our writer, Daragh Carville, lives nearby and knows the area really well. Morecambe reminds me a lot of the towns I grew up in. The Bay looks into the heart of what crime does to people and is a story about two women whose lives both could have turned out really differently and the connection they make in this really extreme circumstance.”