My accompaniment to lunch today was first in the new ITV series of ‘Broadchurch’, starring the wonderful David Tennant and Olivia Colman. I watched it on ‘catch-up’, which means I could watch all of it in one go, uninterrupted by advertisements. Thus the show ran for barely 46 minutes of the allotted one hour ITV slot. And it was brilliant.
As ever, I couldn’t quite follow the story, my concentration having wandered occasionally early on, and the intensely irritating west country country bumpkins accents are a major distraction, but this is top of the range TV drama.
It’s also special for me because the whole thing is based in West Bay in Dorset, which morphs into Clevedon in Somerset when the cameras leave the seaside. Yes, there were a couple of occasions where Tennant’s Inspector Hardy was walking one way only to end up somewhere that would have been in the opposite direction. And they made West Bay seem even better than it was. Hardy lived in a rickety house next to the river, which is opposite a huge caravan site, which you couldn’t see in the show. It just looked like a picturesque harbour in which we know, from the first series, lives a police station (which isn’t really there) and a newsagent, which is. The real purpose of West Bay is to attract people to stay in caravans but Broadchurch doesn’t seem to have any! And here’s another thing: West Bay used to have another name before it became Broadchurch. It was Bridehaven in the BBC series Harbour Lights in which Nick Berry was the harbour master. I am guessing he decided to leave when they changed the name of the town, taking Freddie ‘Parrot Face’ Davies with him.
Perhaps it’s just me, but the accents really grate because they are so grimly inaccurate. I don’t know if Londoners curse at the accents on Coronation Street, or Mancunians frown at the Rovers Return, but every time telly does the West Country, it makes us sound ridiculous.
I did enjoy the twists in the first episode, even if I didn’t quite fathom what all of them meant. There’s an excellent tension running through the show, which was brought to the fore when Joe Miller decided to plead not guilty to the murder he was charged with at the end of the last series. What was Joe thinking about, was the gist of it, not least from his own lawyer who looked gobsmacked, because he was as guilty as sin, but now a high profile defence lawyer has been brought in to find gaps in the prosecution case and get him off on a technicality. And she just might. I spent much of the first series complaining about how the police were ignoring the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) when Miller was nicked and – hey presto! – it looks like the new defence lawyer must have been watching and thought the same as me. But not to worry: Charlotte Rampling turns out to be an older lawyer with a past (I am guessing). But will she ensure Miller gets send down, at least until the third series? You know what these appeal courts are like.
Anyway, Broadchurch was good and it was made by ITV, which are not two things you tend to read in the same sentence. The acting was terrific, the storyline compelling (or, if you are me, impenetrable) and I shall be watching on catch up for the next few weeks until Miller gets found not guilty so we can watch it all again in 2017. Given Hardy’s health problems, which we don’t really know yet, although he is due to have a procedure and is probably not pile removal, he will not be in it. Perhaps, Matt Smith can take over? He’s done that before.