All you need to know about The Bay as Marsha Thomason replaces Morven Christie

Fans were gripped from the word go when it came to ITV drama The Bay, in which police family liaison officer DC Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie) attempted to support devastated relatives, while battling to stay on an even keel with her own clan.

And it all played out with Morecambe Bay in the background, leading the show to be dubbed a Northern Broadchurch.

The shocks came thick and fast – with the first episode revealing that Sean (Jonas Armstrong) the married stepfather of two missing teenagers was the same man with whom Lisa had sex in an alleyway on the previous night, when the Meredith twins disappeared.

Then in the second series, guest star Stephen Tompinson took centre stage as local solicitor Stephen Marshbrook – only to be gunned down minutes into episode one, leaving Lisa, battling to gain her colleagues’ trust again after her actions around the Meredith case, to support his stunned family while her team tried to crack the case.

Now, as the drama returns for a third series, Lisa’s gone and Morecambe’s new family liaison officer is revealed to be DS Jenn Townsend, played by Marsha Thomason.

And when a body is washed ashore on her first day, the job is clearly not going to be plain sailing for Jenn.

But if you think Marsha looks familiar but can’t remember why, here’s the lowdown on the star taking the lead role in the ITV returning drama.

British TV viewers probably first spotted Marsha in the Sunday night drama series Where The Heart Is, which she joined in 1998 as Nurse Jacqui Richards, working alongside stars Pam Ferris and Sarah Lancashire before leaving after two series.

Also in 1998 Marsha had donned her boots to play Shazza Pearce in Kay Mellor’s BBC1 hit drama about a women’s football team, Playing The Field, which also starred the likes of Melanie Hill, Lesley Sharp and Lorraine Ashbourne.

But it was when she made the move to the US that Marsha’s career really soared.

After starring alongside Eddie Murphy in Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, prestigious jobs included playing Nessa Holt in 47 episodes of Las Vegas, and Naomi Dorrit in the sprawling smash hit Lost. Her role as Diana Berrigan in White Collar ran from 2009-2014.

And while she’d pop back to star in UK series such as Safe House, work in America continued to pour in, with roles in NCIS: Los Angeles and Cobra among more recent credits.

Now Marsha’s back on primetime British TV and talks about stepping into Morven’s shoes…

“I was so excited, if not a little nervous about being the new girl. Everyone was so welcoming though.”

And Marsha reckons she’s got a handle on why viewers warmed to the seaside series.

"It’s about real people going through the worst time in their lives. I think viewers connect with that. Plus, everybody loves a whodunnit – I know I do.”

“Jenn’s got two kids and has just started a new job after moving to Morecambe from Manchester to be with her new partner, Chris. She’s nervous about fitting in at work and at home. Jenn is dealing with a lot!”

And she’s confident that while her role at the centre of the established show might throw fans momentarily, they really needn’t worry about series three of The Bay.

“It’s certainly not going to disappoint,” reckons Marsha. “There is a lot of change, but the central crime at the heart of the story is both brilliant and heartbreaking.”

The Bay, ITV, Wednesdays 9pm

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