Head to head: Scott & Bailey

One loves it, the other hates it. Which one gets your vote?

David Brown on why he loves it:


Thank the lord that Scott and Bailey aren’t trailblazers. I’m sick to death of female TV cops solving cases by kicking their male colleagues in the metaphorical goolies and ordering subordinates to call them “guv” instead of “ma’am”.

What I want to see are women officers who work as part of a team but still find plenty of time to discuss their personal problems in the toilets. I suppose what I really crave is for Cagney and Lacey to return, but that’s never going to happen because one’s 68 and the other’s 65 and they’d fail all the required fitness tests.

But never mind, because now we have Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones – two flat-vowelled investigators from Manchester who’re the North West’s equivalent of Christine and Mary Beth, only without the assignments where one of them is forced to go under cover as a hooker.

These two are the saviours of Sunday-night broadcasting – much more interesting than, say, Vera, who must be the police force’s highest-ranking bag lady.

We’re only two episodes in but already I need to know what’s going to happen to Janet’s loveless marriage and Rachel’s disastrous affair with permanently outraged scuzz-bucket Nick. I like to have a bit of emotional attachment to my crime-fighters – I can’t be doing with cold, calculating machines like the CSI lab rats whose lives revolve around petri dishes and luminol spray.

Here we have two credible women who you can easily imagine looking harried on the school run after leaving the house in bra and knickers that don’t match.

Plus you also get the sight of Suranne Jones saying things like, “I’ve seen more dead bodies than you’ve ‘ad ‘ot dinners, pal”, which excites me more than it probably should. 

Jacqueline Wheeler on why she loathes it:

It’s tough writing female leads. Having spent decades on the periphery of the action as love interest, wife, second-in-command, femme fatale etc etc, women are the harshest critics when we see ourselves portrayed on screen. We snipe if the heroine is “absurdly pretty” or “too young” , but make her tough and insular and we’re hoping she’ll fall for her hot male boss.

So, I’d love to buck the trend and give Scott and Bailey the thumbs up, but it’s more moans, I’m afraid. And that’s a shame, because Sally Wainwright so desperately – and this is the show’s problem – wants to win us girls over.

Sadly, this is tampon telly, written with reference to a checklist of what, apparently, women need from their drama. Scott and Bailey are glamorous and stylish but they swear a lot – really a lot, to signal they’re hard and can hold their own in a man’s world.

They’re ambitious, too, scrabbling gamely up the copper’s career ladder, but every so often, Scott pops up in a kitchen so she can peck her husband on the cheek and wave hello to her two point four kids. This proves she’s a hard-pressed, multitasking mother. And if you’re still not convinced DC Scott’s “one of us”, here she is, yet again, getting moist-eyed with the father of a murder victim. She’s the maternal sort, you see.

As for poor old Bailey, she’s burdened with the remaining clutch of feminine dilemmas, a disastrous love affair, a will-she-won’t-she abortion storyline. On the subject of which, isn’t it slightly odd that a woman whose job is uncovering the truth took two years to notice her boyfriend was married? Some detective.


I really looked forward to this series but please, even though I’m a woman, when I watch a crime drama, I want to get immersed in the plot, follow the clues and solve the mystery – not worry which of the leads is on target for the menopause.