People are calling ITV’s The Bay ‘the new Broadchurch’. But just how similar are the seaside whodunits?

PUBLISHED: 11:56 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:04 28 March 2019

Morven Christie as Lisa Armstrong stares out to sea (C) ITV

Morven Christie as Lisa Armstrong stares out to sea (C) ITV


Is The Bay just a Broadchurch tribute act or is comparing the two ITV dramas unfair? We take a look at the similarities and differences between the two dramas – for a start, the house prices are far more affordable in Morecambe. CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Every lady's favourite swordsman, Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong) (C) ITVEvery lady's favourite swordsman, Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong) (C) ITV

It’s been described as Broadchurch’s northern cousin and at first view, the similarities between ITV dramas The Bay and the David Tennant/Olivia Colman whodunit are striking.

A murdered young man on the beach, seaside towns where every single resident looks suspicious or frightened, tortured or maverick cops, an annoying rookie sidekick that a more experienced officer treats with disdain before grudgingly accepting, a ridiculous conflict of interest, feckless fathers that can’t keep it in their trousers – and the list goes on.

Broadbay, Baychurch, call it what you like, The Bay remains engaging and despite all the similarities, I have extracted some differences – for a start, Olivia Colman isn’t in it and she’s in pretty much everything, secondly it’s Carol from EastEnders and not Hayley from Coronation Street who plays the role of “actress from a soap”.

Without further ado, but with plenty of spoilers, here are the differences and similarities between The Bay and Broadchurch two episodes in – all we’re missing is a renegade vicar, Lenny Henry and Pauline Quirke.

Jonas Armstrong as Sean Meredith and Morven Christie as Lisa Armstrong - a compelling reason to never have a one-night stand (C) ITVJonas Armstrong as Sean Meredith and Morven Christie as Lisa Armstrong - a compelling reason to never have a one-night stand (C) ITV

Similarities between The Bay and Broadchurch

1) Set in seaside towns where everyone eyes you narrowly as if you’re about to ask them if they ever had PPI or could lend you their power drill over a bank holiday – Broadchurch is set on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset while The Bay is in Morecambe, a fact which is signposted with a distinct lack of subtlety in the credits.

Darci Shaw and Noah Valentine and Holly and Dylan (C) ITVDarci Shaw and Noah Valentine and Holly and Dylan (C) ITV

2) Dead boys whose names begin with ‘D’: Danny and Dylan.

3) Accents: West Country and North West, varying in strength, both in terms of thickness and in authenticity.

4) Anxiety-inducing soundtracks which directors will use to manipulate audiences – Broadchurch’s soundtrack actually included clues to unravelling the plot: “There was a theme for each character and there was always a slightly different theme for the person revealed as the killer. We left some clues in there. If you watch the first series again and pay attention, the music lets you know who the killer is,” said Broadchurch composer Olafur Arnalds.

5) Strong female leads: DS Ellie Miller and DS Lisa Armstrong.

6) The fathers of the victims were both having affairs: Pete Latimer in Broadchurch was having an affair with Becca Fisher, Sean Meredith (Jonas Armstrong) is going above and beyond by having a bunk-up with his best friend’s wife Hanna, with whom he’s been having a long-term affair AND enjoying a one-night stand on the same night with Lisa.

7) Questionable policing techniques: Armstrong destroys the evidence to her own case, drives while using a mobile phone while hungover, DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Coleman) from Broadchurch beat up a suspect in prison making his confession inadmissible and scoring a spectacular own goal.

8) There’s a well-known soap doyenne in both: EastEnders’ Carol Jackson (Lindsey Coulson) in The Bay, Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper (Julie Hesmondhalgh) in Broadchurch.

9) There’s another tragic pregnant mother: Beth Latimer and Jess Meredith (Chanel Cresswell) – somewhere in his crowded extra-curricular lovelife, Sean has managed to impregnate his wife – and they say men can’t multi-task.

10) Being unpleasant to your rookie sidekick but eventually thawing: standard.

Differences between The Bay and Broadchurch

1) Olivia Colman isn’t in it (unusually)

2) Doctor Who isn’t in it.

3) Lisa is, outrageously, a better family liaison officer than Pete from Broadchurch whose only role was to make tea and eat pies. Lisa May have slept with the chief witness but at least she’s never said: “Amazing pies!” and asked to take some well wishers’ gifts home after a shift.

4) A holiday in Morecambe wouldn’t bankrupt you.

5) Ellie Miller has one wayward teenager, Lisa Armstrong has two – a shoplifter AND a drug mule - furthering the whole ‘buy one, get one free’ theme which runs through The Bay.

6) There wasn’t a statue to Eric Morecambe in Broadchurch.

7) Er…

* The Bay continues on ITV on Wednesdays at 9pm.

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