Before you read any further it’s important you know how obsessed I’ve been about Broadchurch over the past eight weeks. I have sung its praises since before ITV confirmed its official transmission date, I have been fortunate enough to interview the writer and several members of the cast and I’ve tweeted continually about it since week one. Broadchurch did something cynics were saying TV was incapable of – it brought people together to watch TV live. I’m not a fan of the term ‘water-cooler television’ but this truly was. The show created a buzz which was last experienced after the final episode of Sherlock in 2012. Everywhere I went I was asked whether I had been watching and what my theories were. For once in my life I lived in a world where everyone around me was just as obsessed and consumed by a piece of TV as I was.
I’ve seen ALL of the crime dramas on British television and I’ve enjoyed the majority. I’m a sucker for a juicy whodunnit. There was something about Broadchurch that seemed a cut above even my most favourite dramas in the genre. It was so layered, textured and every performance flawless and intriguing. I’m also not a fan of the term ‘journey’ when discussing TV as it’s been overused by overexcited X Factor contestants, but in the case of Broadchurch I felt I was on a real journey. Just when you thought you knew where it was going to take you, writer Chris Chibnall skilfully veered his transfixed audience in another direction.
I was completely absorbed in the both the drama and each of the characters. David Tennant and Olivia Colman were obviously magnificent in their respective roles but the supporting cast were just as worthy of praise. Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan were so emotional on screen that their scenes were sometimes difficult to watch and everyone else from Arthur Darvill as Reverend Paul Coates to young Adam Wilson who played Tom Miller were just brilliant. The joy in Broadchurch was the fact that anyone in that small seaside community could have killed Danny Latimer. Anyone was capable. No one was without their dirty little secret.
When the series really took off, websites like digitalspy and the Radio Times ran their own polls for viewers to guess who had committed the murder. Joe Miller (husband to Olivia Colman’s DS Ellie Miller) was a favourite quite early on. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I assumed people had singled out Joe because he was virtually never on screen and therefore wasn’t an obvious choice. Ignoring the polls I had all sorts of wild and wonderful ideas. Maybe journalist Ollie had grown bored of working at the local paper covering sports days and the like and had killed Danny accidentally but planned on using his death to further his career in the media. Maybe David Tennant’s character had actually died from his heart condition and Broadchurch was a fictional case that he solved in his unconscious mind. Maybe Danny’s sister had had a fight with him when he discovered her doing something she shouldn’t with her older boyfriend and a fight between siblings had ended in tragedy. All sorts of ideas were whizzing through my Broadchurch obsessed head. I’ll admit some were more plausible than others but I had faith Chibnall and co wouldn’t let me down.
At 8.55pm on Monday 22nd April I was literally beside myself with genuine excitement. It was the sort of excitement that made me revert to my eight year old self and giggle like a schoolboy. The sort of excitement that made me have a sudden urge to have a quick wee in the final minutes of Coronation Street. It was the kind of excitement I haven’t felt for a long time, my reactions were seemingly beyond my control. Looking back now I now I realise my expectations were far too high for Broadchurch to live up to. During the first few moments of this final episode I had butterflies in my stomach, I was on the verge of rubbing my hands together and couldn’t stop grinning like some giddy Cheshire Cat.
Then almost twenty minutes in, Tennant’s Alec Hardy tracks down Danny’s phone and we see Joe Miller in the shed gripping the phone as he utters the words “I’m sick of hiding”. At that moment by heart sank and expectations lowered. The polls had be right. People had guessed the killer correctly all those weeks ago! Chris Chibnall and all the cast I had spoken to were keen to stress that the series was not so much about who had committed the murder but that its focus was the effect the horrendous crime had on the people that live in the tight-knit community. For me the mystery element was so well done up to the reveal I was genuinely deflated and if I’m honest really upset when we discovered Joe had killed Danny.
Even as Hardy interviewed our murdered I was clinging on to the fact that there would be another jaw dropping twist to come. I had learnt over the last eight weeks not to take something that happens in the series at face value. I sat there glancing at the clock to see how much time we had left for things to turn around and stun me. But no, the twist I had been hoping for never came and all the polls were proved right.
Although I was hugely disappointed by this last episode it is to the credit of everyone involved in the series that was I was so invested in it. I loved it so much but in the end I can’t help but think that Broadchurch became almost a victim of its own success. If the whole nation hadn’t been as obsessed as me maybe the Joe Miller reveal would’ve come as a massive surprise. The episode ended with an intriguing caption that told us viewers ‘Broadchurch will return’.
Putting my views on the the finale aside Broadchurch was TV at its best. It’s become common to hear people say ‘no one watches TV anymore’ and this series proofed all those cynics wrong. TV is just as relevant as exciting as it has ever been and if you need further proof the final episode pulled in 9 million viewers. Whether we need a second series is something I do question but if it’s half as good as the first series it’ll be TV you will not want to miss.