No-one I cared enough about

Two years ago in 2019 there was a TV series which I intended to watch but for some reason didn’t even though it was my favourite genre of police procedurals. I don’t know why I missed it because as well as being the sort of series I usually enjoy watching, it was set in Lancashire where I lived for longer than anywhere else (although my years here in the west country are now adding up!) The Bay was set in Morecambe, a seaside town on the west coast, its most famous resident being Eric Morecambe the comedian.

A couple of nights ago I settled down to remedy this omission by watching it on iPlayer. It had an excellent cast and excellent reviews; a second series was produced and a third is in the pipeline. Without giving too much away in case you haven’t yet watched it and intend to, but the main storyline involves a pair of teenage twins who go missing. The main character is the family liaison officer, a detective who is also involved investigating the circumstances surrounding missing teenagers. However, from the first couple of scenes we realise that she has unfortunately compromised herself, and possibly the investigation.

I watched two episodes. Unfortunately I found all the characters unlikable, I had no empathy for any of them although the acting was excellent. I just had no interest in finding out what happened or why; there was no-one I could engage with, no-one I cared enough about even though in theory I should have had. As a mum myself I should have felt something for the mother of the twins; I should have felt concerns for another young woman who was putting herself in extreme danger; I should have been on the edge of my seat, I should have been puzzling over the mystery, reviewing the suspects, pondering on who might have done what, and where the missing teenagers were. I didn’t. In fact I only watched those two episodes and had no inclination to watch more and find the answers to the mystery.

A few months ago I watched another series, on paper very similar. Small community, beautiful scenery, police officer with stroppy and difficult teenage daughter, other teenagers who were keeping secrets they shouldn’t, being manipulated by dangerous adults, and this is what I wrote: it haunts my thoughts during the day and I can’t wait to find the time to watch the last couple of episodes!  I can’t until I catch up with this new drama! I checked to see if a second series was made (before I’d finished the first) because it was so good, the characters so realistic and engaging, the mystery truly mysterious and mystifying, plenty of edge-of-the-seat scenes, lots of watching-through- fingers-over-eyes because it was so tense, that I couldn’t wait to see series 2. Unfortunately I was disappointed, and in this case there was not another series made of ‘The Loch’.

I remember a comment a friend made about one of my books; she had a lot of constructive comments but she said that in the end she didn’t really ‘like’ any of the characters, which meant she didn’t really care about what happened to any of them. It was a lesson to me  once again, that a writer – or a TV programme producer – must ensure that the audiences engage and have some connection with the characters, love them or hate them, but not to be indifferent!

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