Marsha Thomason: who is new The Bay series 3 lead actress - and why did Morven Christie leave the ITV show?

The Bay season three premieres on ITv at 9pm on Wednesday 12 January

ITV’s The Bay has returned for series three and viewers will be introduced to a new leading character in Morecambe.

The crime drama has been a huge hit since it debuted in 2019, returning again January 2021 with an average viewership of 7.5 million.

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Daragh Carville’s storylines so far have gripped viewers and the cast has been littered with British talent, with the latest series set to be just as successful.

So, who is replacing Morven Christie’s DS Lisa Armstrong as the lead character? This is what you need to know.

Why did Morven Christie leave The Bay?

Actress Morven Christie will not feature in the series three of The Bay, as she parted ways with her character following season two.

Following the season two finale, Christie confirmed she would not reprise her role in a post on Instagram.

“Bye Lisa. You were a gift. Thank you Daragh Carville, thank you beloved @leehavenjones for bringing me in, and biggest love EVER to the crew who had my back and have my heart,” she wrote.

At the time, the producers released a statement which read: "The show’s producers thank Morven for her brilliant contribution to The Bay and wish her every success for the future. While the DNA of the show remains the same, the change of lead offers up the exciting opportunity to place a new character at the centre of the drama and explore the world of Morecambe from a fresh perspective."

While it appears she left of her own accord, the series director and writer quickly replaced her.

The Bay’s executive producer, Catherine Oldfield, and screenwriter Daragh Carville, soon appointed COBRA’s MArsha Thomason as the new lead actress.

Oldfield added: “Daragh and I always felt that there were so many brilliant stories to be told in the world of The Bay so, after Morven decided to leave the show, we got straight to work finding a new lead actor.

Who has replaced Morven Christie in The Bay?

Cobra star Marsha Thomason will take the reins from Christie, as she steps into series three as new recruit DS Jenn Townsend, a family liaison officer.

Who is Marsha Thomason?

(Picture: Getty Images)

Thomason is a Mancunian actress who is best known for her various roles in a number of US television dramas.

Her roles include Nessa Holt in the first two seasons of the NBC series Las Vegas, Naomi Dorrit on the ABC series Lost, and FBI agent Diana Berrigan on the USA Network series White Collar.

The 45-year-old attended Holy Trinity Primary School in Harpurhey and North Manchester High School for Girls in Moston, before completing her A levels in media studies, theatre studies, and performing arts at Oldham Sixth Form College.

While pursuing several media-based studies, she continued to attend Oldham Theatre workshop which she had taken part in since the age of 13.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Manchester Metropolitan University, before landing her first serious acting gig in 1997.

Thomason rose to prominence for her debut role in 1990s series Pie In the Sky, in which she played Sally and then as Jacqui Richards in 20 episodes of Where the Heart Is.

She went on to star alongside Hollywood legend Eddie Murphy in Disney’s The Haunted Mansion (2003), having moved to the US in the early 2000s.

Aside from her promising career stateside, she also married lighting technician Craig Sykes in Malibu, California, in April 2009. The couple welcomed their only child, Tallulah Anaïs, in June 2013.

Tallulah Anais Sykes, Marsha Thomason, and Craig Sykes at the Fa la Land premiere in Los Angeles in 2018 (Picture: Getty)

Her most recent role, other than as DS Jenn Townsend in The Bay, has been as Francine Bridge in COBRA.

Who is Marsha Thomason’s character, DS Jenn Townsend?

DS Townsend will be introduced to the audience on her first day in her role as a family liaison officer, working under DI Tony Manning.

Thomason leads the cast of The Bay season three (Picture: ITV)

The character has moved her ‘blended family’ to Morecambe, while navigating her marriage and the hostility of her stepdaughter.

In her role as a family liaison officer, she is thrown in at the deep end when on day one a body is found under suspicious circumstances.

The series will tell the storyline of her battle to solve the mystery surrounding the death of the young aspiring boxer, while also trying to fit in with her new colleagues and hold her family together.

Thomason previously told BT TV the role is the “best role I have ever played.”

“It gave me the opportunity to be in almost every scene and to follow Jenn in her work life and in her personal life,” she added.

Speaking of her character, Thomason said: “My life was mirroring Jenn’s really; I was joining an established team and I was nervous…She really cares about the people she works with; she cares about the families. And she’s just good at it. She’s found her calling.”

The Bay series three premieres on ITV at 9pm on 12 January.