Broadchurch was a rare creature. Firstly it was an eight-part drama bucking the trend of the standard six and secondly it became proper watercooler television. A few episodes into the tense investigation of the death of young Danny Latimer the whole country appeared to have a theory as to who was responsible for his death. Everywhere I went people were keen to talk to me about the series and what I thought the series and what I thought about it. I would then be sat down and told. In as much detail as they could muster, their theory and why theirs was the most likely outcome. Broadchurch made TV drama something to be talked about. Every inch of the plot, from the performances to each sinister look was poared over by over ten million viewers a week and all of them wanted a say.
Over the course of the eight weeks we were treated to one of the most adult, well paced and exciting pieces of television drama to shown on ITV for years. David Tennant transformed into DI Alec Hardy who, like everyone else in the tight knit seaside community appeared to have his own deep dark secrets that were been cleverly drip fed to the audience each week. There's nothing I can really say about the gravitas in Olivia Colman's performance that hasn't been said a hundred times before by both me and every other TV lover up and down the country. She was brilliantly emotional DI Ellie Miller was perhaps the best performance I'd seen on TV for years. Her performance was flawless as she dealt with investigating her friends in the community. The relationship and banter between Colman's Miller and Tennant's Hardy provided the brooding dark story with some genuine comedic moments. One particular scene where Miller finally convinces Hardy to come over to hers for a meal was the perfect example of the show's ability to mix tragedy with comedy. Chris Chibnall's script balanced things out successfully without losing sight of the importance of the seriousness at the heart of the story.
Because everyone is so familiar with how a crime drama works it was easy to think you knew where Broadchurch was going, but in actual fact the twists and turns always surprised and sent the story spinning into different and unexpected directions. Mid-way through the series it seemed there wasn't anyone in Broadchurch left who we didn't suspect. In retrospect, the huge success of the series was also its undoing. As word of mouth grew and new suspects emerged, sites like radiotimes.com began running polls asking the public to vote on their most likely murderer. DI Miller's husband Joe was a front-runner quite early on as people looked beyond the obvious and red herrings that crime dramas before this had taught us to avoid. Of course if Broadchurch hadn't become such a huge phenomenon it's quite possible the final reveal would have been a real shock but with speculation pointing to Joe I felt a little deflated and slightly let down when it turned out the public's guesswork had been right.
Chibnall maintained that he had always known the identity of his murderer from day one. He told me in an interview that there were subtle hints to the identity hidden around the episodes and that even the series theme song held clues. In all honesty I didn't want the series to end. I had enjoyed my time with it so much and had maybe expected too much of it. Before the start of the finale I was literally unable to control my excitement and at one point even let out a an excited yelp reminiscent of a crazed One Direction fan. I have to be brutally honest and tell you (again) that I wasn't pleased with the conclusion. The fact that even the cast were kept in the dark about who the killer was until filming the eighth episode meant that the killer's performance wasn't overly believable and that the clues we had been given weren't exactly glaring once we knew who had done this and why. I think it all felt a bit anti-climatic once we all finally knew who had committed this awful crime. If there was one thing I had learnt from the first seven weeks of my time in Broadchurch it was to take nothing at face value and the lack of a final big twist let me feeling deflated.
That being said, Broadchurch was undoubtedly a masterpiece and a true example of the power that television drama still has to captivate audiences if the story, acting talent and script are strong. It's a series that bears repeat viewing, which is good news as today sees the release of the series on DVD from Acorn Media. The DVD release features the entire eight episodes along with picture galleries and and an exclusive behind the scenes documentary that features chats with the principal cast.
Whether I was happy with the conclusion or not Broadchurch proved what I've known to be a true all along, TV is still as important and relevant as it has ever been. In the age of online viewing platforms and sky plus boxes viewers can still be drawn to their sofas at 9pm to watch a piece of nail-biting drama and Broadchurch was certainty that. The DVD will take pride of place on my cabinet to be watched over and over again to recapture the excitement I felt on Monday nights. This DVD is a must for lovers of British television drama.
Acorn Media DVD Extras
Broadchurch: Behind the Scenes