TVNZ 1 Casts Net for Next Broadchurch

TVNZ 1 will try to rebuild Wednesday nights with the premiere of Broadchurch successor The Bay on May 1.

The high-rating whodunit went to air last month on ITV, where The Guardian described it as “Broadchurch in Morecambe …

“I would even bet half my David Tennant memorabilia collection that was the makers’ pitch in its entirety. Why not? It’s perfect. I would have bought it as a commissioner, and as a viewer I was entirely sold.”

Quipped The Telegraph: “ITV’s new crime drama is basically Baychurch, to the point that it would be of little surprise if Olivia Colman strode in in a lank grey trouser suit and started crying.”

The series stars Morven Christie (Ordeal by Innocence, Grantchester) as a family liaison officer who’s assigned to a missing persons investigation in a seaside community — only to discover a personal connection that could compromise her and the investigation.

“For all the inevitable parallels with Broadchurch, Morecambe is an effective setting, still haunted by the cockle-picker tragedy and riven with the dissatisfaction that contributed to its Brexit vote,” said The Independent.

The Bay is full of people on the fringes, worn thin and making do, with never quite enough money or options. The Lancashire scenery is shot to show the odd moment of gruff beauty, with the soundtrack adding to the general sense of anxiety.

None of it is enough to redeem the police-drama tropes. The Bay has texture, but the machinery is knackered. When a child washes up on the beach our reaction ought to be more than boredom.

But TVNZ 1 will be hoping Kiwis agree with Digital Spy’s verdict  — “a gripping crime drama like Broadchurch but with a major twist” — as it seeks to shore up mid-week ratings after the disastrous Bad Mothers.

It will launch The Bay amid a slew of premieres, including the Tuesday night combo of Emergency Call (7.30) and How The Other Kids Live (8.30).

The former is an Australian reality newcomer set in an emergency response call centre; the latter observes how children can unite culturally, ethnically and economically divided families from the same neighbourhood.

“Children from different backgrounds have playdates at each other’s houses, and there’s not a tantrum in sight,” said The Guardian.

“It’s Come Dine With Me with no sarcasm – and the TV tonic we all need.”

Also new will be Gordon, Gino and Fred’s Road Trip (8.30 Thursdays from May 2), in which Gordon Ramsay teams with fellow chefs Gino D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix for a culinary on-the-road bromance across Europe.

The Times thought it narcissistic but Digital Spy hailed it as “Top Gear with food” and dubbed the chefs “a new iconic TV trio“.

Rounding off the week of premieres will be the return of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces (7.30 Thursdays) and Britain’s Got Talent (7.30 Fridays/7.00 Saturdays), which hit the headlines this week for Susan Boyle’s surprise return to the Simon Cowell talent quest that launched her singing career.

Observed The Telegraph: “Now 58, she walked out onto the London Palladium stage again to perform the same song – seeming more confident, healthier and more at peace with herself than a decade ago …

“It was a reminder of how spine-tingling TV talent shows can still be and set a benchmark for the current crop of hopefuls. Easy to forget, though, that Boyle didn’t even win the contest, ultimately finishing as runner-up to streetdance troupe Diversity. How Cowell must pray for a series to match that one.”

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