Broadchurch Is Back

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Everyone’s favourite miserable coastal town cop show returned last night and it’s as gripping as we’re used to. The cast (old and new) are on sparkling form and it looks like we’re promised a heartbreaking, dramatic and twisty-turny case to puzzle and poke over for the next few weeks. It’s nice to have Broadchurch back.

What needs to be remembered, of course, is that Broadchruch is not a gritty and realistic drama, really. It’s a sort of harrowing novel-on-screen. The chapters are distinct and organised in such a way as to drag the drama out without a dip in thrills. Already we’ve been given a hint at who may be the first suspect, with one character seemingly having a piece of evidence in their possession.

“This isn’t Trumpton, I don’t know everyone!” snaps Ellie Miller (Olivia Coleman) midway through last night’s opener. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, however. Series One’s unfortunate family – the Latimers – are still here: Mark Latimer has apparently co-authored an interview book about the murder of his son; the local newspaper editor has asked the questions and the local vicar is now trying to soothe Mark’s regrets about the project. Beth Latimer is working as a crisis support worker, is fairly new to the role (it seems) and has been assigned to the case of this series’ victim Trish (the brilliant Julie Hesmondhalgh), who has been raped.

The apparent prime suspect in the sexual assault case that is this series’ focus is the husband of the victim’s best friend. Trish and her friend Cath (Sarah Parish) work for Lenny Henry’s uppity and impatient (or is he just acting suspiciously?!) farm foods store manager. Olivia Coleman’s character’s husband was the murderer in series one and now her fifteen-year-old son is selling porn at school; expect him to become a suspect in some way in a future episode. David Tennant’s character’s teenage daughter is out with a group of friends who will, I presume, leave her alone at some point to walk home in the dark. Will she too become a victim of Broadchurch’s (soon-to-be) serial sexual assailant?

While the subject matter is being handled – already – with great sensitivity and care, I wonder if the twists and turns ahead will shake a few people up. I foresee a few inconsistencies in Trish’s account of her assault – maybe enough to put a cat among the pigeons at the police station – which may change the headlines from “Broadchurch handles sexual assault storyline with sensitivity” to “Broadchurch cop doesn’t believe rape victim!!” Maybe I’m wrong, but it’ll be just the kind of leftfield curveball Broadchurch is known for (Danny Latimer’s murderer was found Not Guilty at the climax of series two and was effectively exiled from Broadchurch by a coalition of all the characters we’d met so far).

If the series can keep up its slightly-unreal, bizarrely-formulaic yet utterly, utterly enthralling form then we’re in for a treat. And with a cast like this, it’ll be worth the watch, even if the plot flops. I trust in the show. Bring me more!

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