Scott & Bailey is a brand-new ITV crime drama, following hot on the heels of Vera. As with Vera, the focus is on women detectives, but there are more differences than similarities – starting with the fact that this series is not based on novels: the scripts by Sally Wainwright are original to television. Each episode is half length of a Vera screenplay, the setting is urban (Manchester) rather than rural and the two lead characters are detective constables rather than more senior officers.
The first episode opens with a romantic dinner between DC Rachel Scott and her smooth but sleazy barrister boyfriend which turns into a disaster when he dumps her. Soon she and DC Janet Bailey are investigating the suspicious death of young pregnant Turkish woman – it is an apparent suicide which turns out to be murder.
Close parallels develop between the case and Rachel's disastrous relationship. Strangely enough, the plotting of the criminal investigation part of the story struck me as more credible than the fact that Rachel (potentially a very likeable character) would commit more than one crime herself in the course of extracting revenge on her ex. By the end, it wasn't easy to keep sympathy with her, which I can't imagine the writer intended.
The cast is good, with Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp as the title characters, and the excellent Amelia Bullimore as their boss. The writing is pacy, if at times uneven, and the Mancunian setting realistic although verging on the bleak. All in all, a reasonable start to a new series, and I'll probably watch it again next week.