Broadchurch is the immensely popular, and some might say surprise, hit TV drama of the year so far with David Tennant and Olivia Colman in the starring roles against a backdrop of gorgeous Dorset scenery and a puzzling death of a young boy in a quiet seaside community.
Enter grizzled detective DI Alex Hardy (David Tennant) who seems to have unfortunately chosen Broadchurch as a quiet escape from a stain on his reputation and is teamed with local copper and friend of the dead boy’s family Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) who is determined to find the killer but equally keen to protect her friends in the community from the harsh manner and questions of her new colleague.
As the case goes on DI Hardy roots out some of the secrets that the inhabitants of Broadchurch have been carrying with them and in some cases their unwillingness to be more than partially honest casts the spotlight on them in a particularly unfavourable way. Many truths have to be faced up to but as the case drags on those not involved in the investigation become more impatient and feelings run high as they start to come to their own conclusions, ably assisted by some ill-thought intervention from the press. As you’d expect all is revealed but not all is resolved and the series vividly portrays the impact of events such as these on a small town.
One of the things that makes Broadchurch exceptional is the talent on offer in the series with Tennant and Colman putting in superb performance in all eight episodes and superb turns from familiar faces such as Pauline Quirke as the broodingly malevolent Susan Wright and David Bradley (Filch from Harry Potter) who both have outstanding key scenes.
The acting, the depth of the characters, the camera work and the glorious locations draw you in through all eight episodes and while the writing wasn’t completely perfect, DI Hardy’s late conversion to temporary press enthusiast is one example, I can’t think of a detective series that I’ve enjoyed so much since I came across the original Wallander series.
By the time the last episode was broadcast there was huge speculation in both the press and the betting shops as to the identity of the killer and over 9 million tuned in to watch it. Whilst the obvious story about finding ‘whodunnit’ dominated much of the news the real story of the series was the portrayal of a community in shock and searching for answers with relationships being torn apart as individuals in Broadchurch turned on each other in their search to find the killer.
I was fortunate enough to interview Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan, who played the mother and further of the dead boy, about the show from the show at recent the BAFTA TV awards
Now one big reason for buying something like this on DVD is for the special features and Broadchurch does quite well in that respect with the excellent “Broadchurch – Behind the scenes” which is a 25 minutes documentary which dips into the filming process at a few key points.
It begins with a concise introduction from producer Richard Stokes
“Broadchurch is .. one story that goes across eight hours of television and one of the big challenges of that is to emotionally dig deep enough into all these characters to make it interesting for an audience to give up eight hours of their life to watch”
The 25 minutes shows excerpts from the process of making Broadchurch and starts with the nervous buzz before the first assembly of the cast and production team for the read through of episodes 1 and 2. It then moves on to interviews on location in West Bay in Dorset where some of the filming took place with key members of the cast describing their characters and the challenges of playing them. They also talk about what it was like to film with the cast not knowing the final outcome of the series plus how that kept them in suspense and enabled them to act at a different level as they were genuinely second guessing all of the information they were hearing as they were reading the script and playing the scenes. It then concludes with the re-enactment of the last hours of Danny Latimer as he skateboarded up Broadchurch High Street and while I’d have loved it to be longer I’ve seen TV series come out with no special features so any move in this direction is a good one. Plus you get to discover who the real owner of the dog is.
Additionally there are cast filmographies which have brief IMDB-like listings of 12 of the main cast members previous parts and the photo gallery has some of the PR shots for the series set in front of the fabulous Dorset cliffs but you’ll probably only look at those once if you’re anything like me. The documentary is the real gem worth getting it for.
I’ll leave the last words to Pauline Quirke from the documentary as a prescient recommendation:
“If we’re that intrigued by it and we’re part of it imagine what the audience is going to feel like when they watch it. It’s certainly going to be a drama that you wouldn’t want to miss too many episodes. I really think that once you start with it you’ve got to stick with it.”
Broadchurch is released on 20th May in a 3 DVD set.