One of the few shows I watch on ITV, or on any other channel for that matter, is Broadchurch, the police drama set in West Bay, Dorset and Clevedon, Somerset. The show always has a great cast, the story lines are generally compelling and it provides about 45 minutes of great entertainment every week. But there is one thing that drive me bonkers about it and that’s the west country accents. They are rubbish.
I understand the need to have some characters in with local accents because the viewer is supposed to associate the show with a particular area. Broadchurch, although based on the Dorset coast, sounds far closer than a Somerset village where a group of country bumpkins live.
Of the two main characters, the producers have sensibly allowed David Tennants’ Inspector Hardy to be Scottish, but Olivia Colman’s Miller, despite her brilliant acting, is marred by a ludicrous dialect I have never before heard. The same goes for Beth Latimer, an excellent actor from Huddersfield and her TV husband Andrew Buchan who plays Mark. They sound more like a couple of halfwits than normal west country folk. None of this probably bothers viewers from everywhere else in the country but it drives me, a genuine west country boy, to distraction.
This is not the first programme with local connections that has made a serious assault on our senses by employing ludicrous accents, as if every actor had been trained by the Wurzels. Early Casualty was a dialect car crash for many years until the producers finally got a grip and allowed people to talk their own language. Bristol, with its increasing hipster influences and general gentrification, probably sounds less “Yokel”-like than Broadchurch these days.
The only character who sounded authentic with his accent was the excellent Joe Sims, who played the creepy chippy Nige Carter in the first seasons of Broadchurch which may have more than a little to do with the fact that he is Bristolian.
I am sorry that Broadchurch is finally coming to an end because despite the Cluedo nature of the stories it’s a lot of fun with enough red herrings to fill Billingsgate. But I do hope people who make these shows consider for one moment the possibility of using actors who speak with the appropriate accents or properly coaching those who don’t.