David Tennant filming Gracepoint

HERE’S a shot of David Tennant shooting Gracepoint, the US version of ITV’s Broadchurch, which is being made by Fox. It was taken in Sidney, British Columbia. David is starring alongside Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn (who replaces Olivia Colman). His character of DI Alec Hardy has become Detective Emmett Carver, complete with US accent. Carver and his partner Ellie Miller will investigate the killing of young Danny Solano on an idyllic Californian beach. Gracepoint is very much part of the current craze for foreign makeovers – The Bridge (twice), The Office, The Killing, Low Winter Sun, Life on Mars have all had the treatment. Sometimes they work (The Office was brilliant), often they don’t (The Killing). But this one does have a terrifc cast. The 10-parter is expected to air this autumn, so we’ll find out how good it is quite soon. Picture courtesy of Tyson Elder rocktographer.ca

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The Escape Artist, BBC1, with David Tennant, Sophie Okonedo, Ashley Jensen PREVIEW

Will Burton (DAVID TENNANT) The Escape Artist
How will he get out of the case that becomes a nightmare? David Tennant as Will Burton. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC1: starts Tuesday, 29 October, 9pm

Story: Barrister Will Burton is in high demand as he has never lost a case. But when his talents acquit the prime suspect in a horrific murder trial, that brilliance comes back to bite him with unexpected and chilling results.

LAWYERS SOMETIMES have a really hard time on screen. Whether they’re being framed for crimes (Presumed Innocent), attacked by killers they’ve defended successfully (Jagged Edge) or hunted by disgruntled clients (Cape Fear), several cracking thrillers have put the profession through the mincer.

Will Burton (DAVID TENNANT), Kate Burton (ASHLEY JENSEN) The Escape Artist BBC1
Before Foyle enters their world – Will and Kate

Will Burton, played by David Tennant, is the latest lawyer as victim in this intriguing BBC1 three-parter. It asks the time-honoured question – how do lawyers bring themselves to defend society’s most sleazy, revolting people?

And barrister Burton is very good at defending them. He’s never lost a case, he’s rated number one by a law magazine and is being urged to take promotion to silk.

Toby Kebbell is unsettling as psycho Foyle

Everything is hunky dory for Burton – until he is asked to defend Liam Foyle, who’s accused of the sadistic murder of a woman. Toby Kebbell, who’s been seen around in TV’s The Street and the films RocknRolla and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, plays Foyle, and the thriller comes alive when he appears.

Liam Foyle (TOBY KEBBELL) The Escape Artist BBC1
Chilling – Liam Foyle

Until then it mostly all about Will’s smooth middle-class existence with his charming, sparky wife Kate  – Ashley Jensen in a straight role – and their son.

From the moment he meets the disturbing Foyle, however, Will’s life is on tilt. Kebbell is terrific as the mood-switching manipulator, who even has the clever barrister dancing to his tune. Will is so repulsed by the ‘malignant sadist’, as the prosecution calls him, that he even hits the cigarettes.

Sophie Okonedo as Maggie

When Foyle’s credit cards show that he used sadistic pornographic websites that showed images

Maggie Gardner (SOPHIE OKONEDO) The Escape Artist BBC1
Rival – Maggie Gardner

echoing the woman’s murder, Foyle says stonily, ‘The credit cards are lying.’

But while Foyle admits he is not a nice person, is he guilty? He says no, and Will takes the case. When he uses a mistake by the judge during the trial to get Foyle released, that’s when Will’s nightmare begins.

The story is a little contrived, almost a morality tale for lawyers, so much so that when Foyle ends up back in court, it is Will who wants him imprisoned, while his arch-rival in law, Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo), will stop at nothing to free Foyle, the man who has destroyed Will’s happiness.

Another charismatic performance from David Tennant

The Escape Artist recalls ITV’s Injustice by Anthony Horowitz, which in 2011 starred James Purefoy

Will Burton (DAVID TENNANT) in The Escape Artist BBC1
On the case – Will Burton

as a lawyer who wins the freedom of a bomber who later tells him that he was guilty.

This new drama has a less confusing plot and is also boosted by David Tennant’s subtle performance as a brilliant man, yet one who is insecure and can’t work a dishwasher. Tennant must be Britain’s most charismatic TV performer, with strong and varied performances this year in Spies of Warsaw, Broadchurch and The Politician’s Husband, and with another outing as Doctor Who still to come this Christmas.

David Wolstencroft, the writer behind Spooks, wanted to create a Hitchcockian suspense story with The Escape Artist, and while it is too neat a plot to be totally believable, it does successfully conjure an air of menace as we wonder if Will can extricate himself from his own personal horror trial.

Cast: David Tennant Will Burton, Toby Kebbell Liam Foyle, Sophie Okonedo Maggie Gardner, Ashley Jensen Kate Burton, Brid Brennan Mary, Kate Dickie Jenny, Monica Dolan Eileen Morris, Tony Gardner Trevor Harris, Anton Lesser Richard Mayfield QC, Roy Marsden Peter Simkins, Alistair Petrie Julian Fowkes QC, Patrick Ryecart Gavin de Souza QC, Stephen Wight Danny Monk, Gus Barry Jamie Burton

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David Tennant joins US version of Broadchurch

David Tennant Pic: Alacoolk

Guest contributor KEVIN GANNON investigates news that David Tennant is translating his character of detective inspector Hardy to the new American version of ITV’s Broadchurch

QUITE OFTEN, popular British shows and films make their way to the United States with a completely new cast, set of writers, and everything in between. But there have been a few standout exceptions, including Mark Strong’s reprisal of his own leading role (Frank Agnew) in the stateside adaptation of Channel 4’s Low Winter Sun for Fox TV.

Now Broadchurch, one of our favourite shows of 2013 – we didn’t call it the best new UK crime series for nothing – can be added to that small list, according to US television bible TV Guide. And David Tennant is set to reprise his leading role in the American version.

Tennant with an American accent

For those who missed it, Broadchurch featured David Tennant’s character, detective inspector Alec Hardy, arriving at a sleepy coastal town to investigate the murder of a young boy. The child’s death is the driving force of the show’s narrative as Hardy interviews members of the community to find answers. What he does discover is that almost everyone is a suspect.

Therein lies the reason the show is so intriguing, in addition to the sharp writing. Speaking of writing, the show’s creator, Chris Chibnall, is penning the US series premiere for Fox, and he’s executive producing the show, too.

Tennant’s role in the remake will be similar, though it’s not clear if the plot will remain exactly the same. Also, he’ll be masking his native Scottish accent and speaking with a more Americanised accent. The drama will be filmed in January.

Will David Tennant return for ITV’s Broadchurch 2?

Oliva Colman and David Tennant in ITV's Broadchurch 2013
Oliva Colman and David Tennant in Broadchurch. Pic: ITV

This will be the second time Tennant, who was of course the tenth Doctor Who, has crossed the pond to crack America. In 2010 he made a pilot for a show called Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, but the series was never commissioned.

The UK version of Broadchurch has been renewed by ITV for a second season, although it hasn’t been confirmed just yet whether or not Tennant will be on board for that. Will making the American Broadchurch prevent him from returning for ITV’s second series?

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Broadchurch on DVD

DVD: ★★★★½
Extras: ★★★★

IT’S BEEN the most talked about crime series of the year and a real triumph for ITV. Audiences and critics were gripped by the whodunit and  seven million people were tuning in, which in these multi-channel days is a blockbuster figure.

But despite all the hoo-haa about whether young Danny’s killer was his dad or his friend or the vicar or creepy Susan, the eight-part drama had a lot more to it than the jaded mechanics of a traditional whodunit.

Broadchurch broke the mould of police procedurals by discarding the corpse before each ad break that is the norm in shows such as Midsomer and Lewis along with the clever detectives deducing who the perpetrator was. It was about the gut-wrenching tragedy of the Latimer family, the behaviour of the press, the strife at the police station and the role of the church.

It was beautifully written by Chris Chibnall and had a first class cast, headed by David Tennant and Olivia Colman, brilliantly supported by Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Vicky McClure, Arthur Darvill, Pauline Quirke and Will Mellor.

Chibnall reveals in the excellent special features on this new DVD release that he wrote the drama on spec because it was something he really wanted to write. And that desire to produce a really good, heartfelt  story before taking it to ITV is perhaps the secret to its success.

Broadchurch on DVD, released 20 May, running time 400 minutes on three discs. RRP: £25.99. Cert TBC

PRIZE DRAW

We have one copy of the complete series of Broadchurch worth £25.99 to give away. All you have to do is join the CrimeTimePreview gang (see the column on the right) to enter a prize draw for this fantastic series. The first name drawn on the closing date of Friday, 24 May, will be sent a copy of the DVD.
This offer is open to UK residents only. Prize Draw entrants must register as members of CrimeTimePreview (see column, right); one name will be drawn on the closing date (Friday, 24 May) and will be posted a free copy of Broadchurch. The selectee will need to provide their postal address. No prize alternatives. If anyone registers but declines the Broadchurch DVD, an alternative winner will be selected. Good luck!

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Broadchurch — great finish for the best new UK crime series

ITV's Broadchurch, starring Oskar McNamara as Danny
Oskar McNamara as Danny. Pics: ITV

Broadchurch revealed its secrets in the final episode last night and confirmed its position as the best new UK crime series since Sherlock. The Beeb, BSkyB, Channel 4 and ITV churn out dozens of murder dramas each year but none has generated the buzz that Broadchurch did.

Much of the watercooler chat was about whodunit, but Broadchurch was a much better show than those that are simply puzzles over a perpetrator’s identity, intriguing though that was. The bookies, and most of us in the audience, strongly suspected it was Joe, anyway.

Broadchurch worked so brilliantly because it learnt from the first series of The Killing and was a seering exploration of a crime and its painful fallout for a community – ambitions way above most TV crime fare. Central to the whole story was the Latimers and the heartbreak and confused loss they were suffering. Hats off to writer and creator Chris Chibnall (United, Law & Order: UK) for devising such a rich, compelling drama.

Olivia Colman, David Tennant in Broadchurch, ITV
Olivia Colman and David Tennant

Olivia Colman was superb throughout, but really went above the call of duty in portraying the nightmare that befell Ellie during the finale. David Tennant was very good – as usual – as Alec, the lead detective who was by turns irritating and vulnerable. And, for my money, Andrew Buchan also stood out at times as Danny’s dad, particularly early in the series in the scene when he had to identify his son’s body.

  • Daily Telegraph final episode review
  • Guardian final episode review
  • Independent final episode review

ITV wasted no time last night in announcing that Broadchurch will be back. Which will be interesting, seeing that Alec is being invalided out of the force and Ellie will have to leave town. The story is, of course, being kept under wraps, but will go into production next year. More than nine-million viewers have been watching, so another series is not a surprise.

My guess is series two could involve Sandbrook, Alec’s previous and disastrous case.

Anyway, final word to Chris Chibnall  – ‘The whole Broadchurch team has been delighted and properly gobsmacked by the response from ITV viewers. When I first talked to Peter Fincham and Laura Mackie, ITV’s Director of Drama about Broadchurch, I mentioned that if people liked it, there was another very different story we could tell afterwards. I’m really thrilled we’re going to tell that story too.’

Here’s the extra scene from Broadchurch that was posted on Facebook last night…

• In other news, ITV also announced yesterday that there will be a fourth series of Vera. Brenda Blethyn will this summer start filming four new 120-minute stories based on the character created by crime author Ann Cleeves.

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Broadchurch, ITV, starring David Tennant, Olivia Colman

Broadchurch with Olivia Colman and David Tennant
Washed up? DS Miller with new boss DI Hardy (David Tennant), who has a lot to prove. Pics: ITV 

Rating: ★★★★

ITV: Monday, 4 March, 9pm

Story: DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller are summoned to investigate the discovery of 11-year-old Danny Latimer’s body on Broadchurch beach, a death that profoundly affects the small seaside community.

Bog-standard crime series can’t be bothered to deal with the pain that follows a murder, with victims usually treated simply as an excuse to kick off a whodunit. The cops hog the limelight and the victims’ stories are left on the slab.

Broadchurch is not bog standard. It is an emotional thriller that follows the ripples through a close-knit seaside community caused by the suspicious death of a schoolboy.

Screenwriter Chris Chibnall explains his motivation in writing the series like this, ‘When I was writing Law & Order: UK, I always used to worry for the victim’s relatives we would bring in for one scene: what happened to them when they left the screen? Broadchurch is, in part, an answer to that, a desire to honour those people more fully.’

The Latimer family in Broadchurch, ITV
The Latimer family

Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan
The sunny mood of Broadchurch, a largely crime-free seaside town, is shattered one morning when the body of 11-year-old Danny is found on the beach. His parents don’t know at first that he is even missing because he always leaves the house early to do a paper round.

It is only at a school sports day that mum Beth, played by Jodie Whittaker, realises Danny is not there. From the word go we are alongside frantic Beth and her husband, Mark (Andrew Buchan), trying to locate their son.

When Danny’s body is found, DI Alec Hardy, a new face drafted in only recently, and DS Ellie Miller, a local woman, are called in to investigate. Hardy has just got the promotion Ellie was hoping for, so they immediately have a frosty relationship.

Maggie, Karen and Ollie in Broachurch, ITV
The press – Maggie, Karen and Ollie

Vicky McClure and Pauline Quirke
David Tennant and Olivia Colman portray the detectives, and they make a fine clashing partnership, with Tennant as a stiff boss with something to prove and Colman completely alienated by him. ‘Don’t look at me like that,’ he tells her. Colman is the mistress of the sour look.

But it is Andrew Buchan, a long way from his Garrow’s Law days here, who steals the opening episode. The scene in which he identifies Danny’s body, having hoped against hope that the dead child was not his boy, is absolutely heartrending.

The cast is good throughout, with Vicky McClure as a Fleet Street reporter sniffing for a scoop, Pauline Quirke as a suspicious and scruffy local, and Will Mellor as a telephone engineer with a connection to the case.

‘My character wasn’t supposed to cry half as much as she ended up doing’
Everyone from the vicar (Arthur Darvill) to the hotelier (Simone McAullay) are affected or implicated in Danny’s story, not least Ellie’s own son, who was Danny’s best friend.

Nige and Susan in Broadchurch, ITV
The locals – Nige and Susan

Interestingly, the cast were not told who was behind Danny’s death during filming to maintain the level of intrigue – they apparently had a sweepstake on the killer’s identity.

But it is the story’s emotional journey that is Broadchurch‘s distinguishing feature. As Olivia Colman reveals, ‘My character wasn’t supposed to cry half as much as she ended up doing but I couldn’t stop myself; it was so sad.’

Cast: David Tennant DI Alec Hardy, Olivia Colman DS Ellie Miller, Andrew Buchan Mark Latimer, Jodie Whittaker Beth Latimer, Vicky McClure Karen White, Arthur Darvill Rev Paul Coates, Pauline Quirke Susan Wright, Will Mellor Steve Connelly, Carolyn Pickles Maggie Radcliffe, Matthew Gravelle Joe Miller, Simone McAullay Becca Fisher, Jonathan Bailey Olly Stevens, Oskar McNamara Danny Latimer, Charlotte Beaumont Chloe Latimer, Susan Brown Liz Roper, Adam Wilson Tom Miller, Joe Sims Nige Carter, David Bradley Jack Marshall, Jacob Anderson Dean Thomas

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Spies of Warsaw on DVD

Spies of Warsaw DVD

DVD: ★★★½ 

David Tennant reveals another side of his versatility in this 1930s-set thriller when he turns dashing French spy in pre-war Poland. This BBC4 production was shown in January but is now already available on DVD.

It’s a beautifully produced drama with an unusual wartime setting, focusing on a French cultural attaché, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, who is based in Warsaw. To the diplomatic community, Mercier appears to be the slightly bored military hero, having to attend evening balls in full dress uniform and other dull functions.

David Tennant and Jane Montgomery
But there’s more to the colonel than that, as he develops a network of double agents, scouts the border with Germany and comes to a conclusion that is unpalatable to his political masters – that Germany is planning to invade Poland (and threaten France).

Jane Montgomery stars as Anna Skarbek, with whom Mercier becomes entangled in a tricky, dangerous, romance.

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Spies of Warsaw was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who are better known for their comedies (The Likely Lads, Porridge) but who became fascinated with this story, which is based on Alan Furst’s novel.

Warsaw had to be rebuilt brick by brick following the Second World War, and this series was filmed there. It makes an atmospheric setting for what is something of an old-fashioned, but still engrossing, wartime thriller.

There are no extras on this DVD, which is a shame. However, the Beeb’s online media centre has a media pack about the drama here.

• Also just being released are series 1 and 2 of The Hour, the 1950s drama set in the early days of TV news, with a fine cast, including Dominic West, Romola Garai, Ben Wishaw and Peter Capaldi.

Both DVDs are available from BBCShop.com

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Spies of Warsaw BBC4 with David Tennant, Janet Montgomery PREVIEW

BBC4's Spies of Warsaw with David Tennant as Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier
Watching the Nazis – Colonel Mercier (David Tennant). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★ 

BBC4: starts Wednesday, 9 January, 9pm 

Story: It is 1937, and Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, a decorated soldier from the First World War, is a French military attaché in Warsaw, Poland, while Hitler’s Nazi regime looms over mainland Europe. He leads a double life – embassy official by day, spy by night, with the latter role making him highly distrustful of Germany’s military schemes.

‘Tis the season for spy dramas. Following the excellent Restless on BBC1, sister channel BBC4 keeps up the intrigue with this second wartime espionage story.

It’s a classy, engrossing tale, based on Alan Furst‘s acclaimed novel, and adapted by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who are big fans of the American author’s books. And in David Tennant, a captivating performer whether playing Doctor Who or Hamlet, the two 90-minute films have an actor who is suitably dashing as the decorated French soldier and hero of the story.

BBC4's Spies of Warsaw with Jane Montgomery as Anna Skarbek
Mercier has a complicated romance with Anna

His character, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, is a cultural attaché at the French embassy in Warsaw. For a former man of action, the embassy dances and complacency of French diplomats in the face of covert military activity on the Nazi side of the border is frustrating.

Jane Montgomery is Anna Skarbek
By deceiving a German engineer into passing on Nazi tank secrets and by launching his own night-time border raids, Mercier begins to understand that Hitler is getting ready for war – a prospect his diplomat colleagues dismiss.

But there is also romantic intrigue in the shape of a Parisian lawyer for League of Nations called Anna Skarbek, played by Jane Montgomery. She is hitched up with a drunken Russian journalist, and it is not long before Mercier is launching his own covert operation to seduce her.

Mercier is a chevalier, a French knight, and a gentleman, but where the beautiful Skarbek is concerned, needs must. However, it is his sense of honour that pushes him to risk his life to expose the brutal plotting of the Nazis.

David Tennant and Richard Lintern in Spies of Warsaw
Mercier and Colonel Lessard

Mercier is like a pre-war, French James Bond
Period detail is understated, moody and convincing, bringing a period to life when Europe was in a state of apprehension and totally alien to its current-day union, where intrigue and plotting generally take place round the conference table.

Spies of Warsaw is an old-fashioned espionage tale in setting and tone, with Nazi evil-doers in black trilbys and leather overcoats up against Mercier, a pre-war, French James Bond. But it is a nicely complicated drama, with the personal lives of Mercier and Skarbek tangled in the great issues of era.

The cast is full of excellent actors, with Burn Gorman as Mercier’s dismissive embassy colleague, Anton Lesser as Mercier’s German contact, The Killing‘s Ann Eleonora Jorgensen as one of Mercier’s agents, the granite-faced Polish actor Miroslaw Zbrojewicz as Mercier’s sidekick, and Julian Glover as the French general, among others.

David Tennant and Janet Montgomery in Spies of Warsaw
Dangerous love – Mercier and Anna

David Tennant – hero and romantic lead
And David Tennant rounds off the ensemble superbly, looking every inch the French officer while also throwing himself into the action and being romantic lead. Though he makes an excellent spy, his cover as an actor was soon blown in Poland when Polish Doctor Who fans tracked him down for an autograph.

All respect to the current Doctor Who, Matt Smith, but Spies of Warsaw is a reminder of how charismatic a performer Tennant is.

Cast: David Tennant Jean-Francois Mercier, Janet Montgomery Anna Skarbek, Marcin Dorocinski Antoni Pakulski, Ludger Pistor Edvard Uhl, Burn Gorman Jourdain, Ann Eleonora Jorgensen ‘The Countess’ / Olga Musser, Piotr Baumann Maxim Mostov, Miroslaw Zbrojewicz Marek, Ellie Haddington Madame Dupin, Tuppence Middleton Gabrielle, Anton Lesser Doctor Lapp, Adam Godley Julius Halbach, Nicholas Murchie Johannes Elter, Mel Giedroyc Trudl, Richard Lintern Colonel Lessard, Julian Glover General Beauvilliers, Fenella Woolgar Lady Angela Hope, Richard Teversen Roddy Fitzware, Magda Poplawska  Princess Ewa, Jan Pohl Zoller, Rad Kaim August Voss, Linda Bassett Malka Rozen, Alan Corduner Viktor Rozen, Tusse Silberg Helena Skarbek, Julian Harries Duff Cooper

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