5 Reasons to Love Scott & Bailey

Scott and Bailey

Scott & Bailey is a British detective series from iTV. It’s run for 5 seasons. It makes its way across the pond to American TV on PBS. Some local PBS stations may have episodes you can watch right now, but it depends on your locality. You’ll also find every episode available on YouTube.

There are so many things about Scott & Bailey that I really enjoyed, a list seems in order.

1. The Main Characters are Women

Suranne Jones is DC Rachel Bailey, Lesley Sharp is DC Janet Scott, and their boss is Amelia Bullmore as DCI Gill Murray. There are a lot of men in the police department and in the women’s lives, but the police procedural stories which form the bulk of the drama are the cases that Scott and Bailey take the lead on.

Scott & Bailey
Scott & Bailey

Janet Scott, Rachel Bailey, and Gill Murray are real women. Smart, tough, dedicated and thoroughly flawed. Scott and Bailey are great friends and understand each other very well.

In the flaw department, Bailey excels completely, to the dismay of her co-workers and to the detriment of her personal relationships. She makes up for it by being a brilliant detective. She has an older sister who helped raise her, a younger brother just out of prison, and a horrifyingly awful mom. Alison, the older sister, is played by Sally Lindsay who is also one of the writers on the series.

Scott is a bit older, with a husband, teen aged daughters, and a mom who is around a lot. She’s unflappable and efficient, but does manage to have a few issues of interest going on in her personal life.

DCI Gill Murray
DCI Gill Murray

Bailey calls the boss “Godzilla” but she’s one of the best bosses I’ve seen. Like Scott & Bailey, Gill Murray is a brilliant detective. She’s also capable of leading a large team of investigators straight in to a confusing morass of information and bringing them out with an answer.

2. The Writers!

The series was written mainly by Sally Wainwright and Diane Taylor. You may know other shows that Sally Wainwright has done, especially Last Tango in Halifax. Diane Taylor also acted as producer and police consultant on the series. Other writing credits go to Sally Lindsay, Suranne Jones, Amelia Bullmore and Nicole Taylor.

Nobody had to remind these writers to write “strong female characters.” They couldn’t do it any other way. They’ve created some of the most interesting women on television.

3. The Guest Stars

It may take more than one episode to solve a crime, which means a major guest star may be around for several episodes. Kevin Doyle, Mr. Molesley from Downton Abbey, is there for several episodes while he’s under investigation for a series of crimes. Josh Bolt, Raff from Last Tango in Halifax, was on one episode with a wild head of hair and a bad attitude.

A troubled daughter
A troubled daughter

Joe Bevan’s (George Costigan) nasty crimes took several episodes to investigate. Costigan made his character so creepy. It was masterfully done. (If you’ve seen Sally Wainwright’s drama Happy Valley, you can see Costigan in a much different role.) Helping the police with that investigation was his troubled and abused daughter Helen, played by Nicola Walker, who also worked on Last Tango in Halifax.

4. The British Style of Policing

A police procedural is such a common genre, but the British do it in their own way and it’s a refreshing change from American shows like Castle or Bones. Not that I don’t enjoy Castle and Bones or any other American police procedural like Rizzoli and Isles. But the style of inquiry, the method of interrogation, the lack of guns, and the calm attitude of the police toward the people under investigation is a window into how it can be done with less violence.

5. Great Performances

The acting is top notch from everyone in the series. There are many characters I haven’t mentioned who are played to perfection. The lead characters are excellently acted, completely real and believable. The show has an all-round outstanding cast. Nicholas Gleaves is terrific as DC Andy Roper, Tony Pitts is fabulous as Janet Scott’s husband, Liam Boyle is excellent as Rachel Bailey’s brother, Sean Maguire does a wonderful turn as Rachel’s mistreated love interest.

You might enjoy watching a few short promos and trailers for some of the shows and seasons. It will give you a glimpse of the characters in action. If you have seen the series, I’d love to hear your reactions to it in the comments.

Promo for season 1

A Season 3 Promo

10 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Love Scott & Bailey”

    1. I was sorry to see it end, too. But I thought it was good that they got to come back for those last 3 episodes. It was a great send off and a good way to say goodbye. Friendships like that between Scott & Bailey are so wonderful to watch.

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  2. Just started season 4 of Scott & Bailey – terrific show – the police interviews are riveting – actors are so real – Interesting to see actors from other series – especially Nicola Walker – was sorry to learn that there are only 3 episode in season 5 and that is the end.

  3. christopher a swaby

    what i liked so much about this show was the very human nature of the characters. over here, our protagonists come across as flawless – in British dramas, they have feet of clay. both Scott and Bailey, and virtually everyone else on the show, had genuine human foibles. there were times i wanted to scream at the tv about a choice one of them made, just as people i am sure have wanted to do with choices i have made in my own life. the interrogations which are so much of the show were a bit confusing to an American criminal defense attorney – in my 29th year and i’ve let one client speak to the police and only bc with had demonstrable proof of innocence – but i still found them riveting. i binged this show over a long weekend and enjoyed every minute of it. i’ve become a big Suranne Jones fan (she is even more flawed in “Dr. Foster”) and Sally Wainwright could write a show about a person reading the phone book (a reference soon to be, if not already, antiquated) and i’d watch it. i do like that they gave us closure in the last season. i’m sure i will rewatch this one soon.

    1. Scott & Bailey made me a Suranne Jones fan, too. Each collaboration between her and Sally Wainwright has been outstanding. (e.g. Unforgiven). I’m really looking forward to their work together on the Anne Lister series.

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