TV of a quality like Broadchurch doesn’t come along very often. And in an age when telly is an elastic experience – something which can be paused, rewound, and watched whenever we demand it – it’s rare for a show to command such attention that it becomes an appointment: an hour that millions cannot afford to record or download, because it would leave them behind.
Broadchurch has become such a show. It’s pulled us in, made amateur sleuths of us over our pints and lattes and dinner party plates, and now we know which of us would make a better remote-wielding detective.
That Danny Latimer’s murderer turned out to be DS Ellie Miller’s husband, the all too average ‘Average Joe’, will have no doubt left half the audience gasping and half the audience sagely nodding their heads and quickly texting ‘Told you!’ to their friends. Joe Miller was the bookie’s favourite, and many viewers, without even knowing his first name, were pointing the finger by Episode 3, despite the fact they didn’t know why he would have strangled an 11 year old boy.
True to what most real-world murders are, it wasn’t pre-thought, wasn’t a crime of passion, but an act of cowardice by a man who may or may not have been a paedophile. The aftermath was ragged, desperate, breathless, and Matthew Gravelle – who’ll probably now be known as ‘the murderer in Broadchurch’ for the rest of his career, poor chap – played each beat perfectly as he snivelled and shivered his way to one of the most memorable performances of the series.
Not the most memorable though. Olivia Coleman’s response upon finding out it was her husband ‘wot done it’ was magnificently judged. So gut-wrenching that you’d have thought she was about to throw up a BAFTA. Without a doubt Coleman stole the last hour of the show but we can’t forget David Tennant, who effortlessly, beautifully, moved from Glaswegian cheese grater to a character made of sad puppy dog stares and heavy sighs, as he realised that the conclusion to the Broadchurch case was a pyrrhic victory, for him and Miller.
Yet for the town of Broadchurch, broken into a jigsaw of mistrust by the murder, there was hope. A cast of actors who are all likely to be in high demand after this came together to repair the wounds and do everything short of singing ‘Come By Yah My Lord’, as the ghost of Danny-Wan Kenobi appeared by the fire for an unexpected Return of the Jedi homage. An ending designed to wring one last sob from you like you were an emotional kitchen towelette.
And then, through the bittersweet tears washed up three exciting words we didn’t expect to see, especially after Chris Chibnall so expertly lied to us when we interviewed him and said this was a one-off: ‘Broadchurch Will Return’ (presumably in ‘From Sandbrook With Love’…). Without a doubt millions will return for it.
But until that time, load the awards cannon! Pack it tight with everything bright and shiny and aim it squarely at the cast and crew of Broadchurch, and especially at the masterful fiend behind it, Chris Chibnall. Because this show not getting every single piece of the recognition it deserves? That’d be the real crime.
Aired at 9pm on Monday 22 April 2013 on ITV.
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