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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