Broadchurch: The Great British Whodunnit

by Charlie_East_West on April 22, 2013

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How many great TV programmes do ITV make? Not many. Apart from the Champions League, and Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, I cannot think of any TV programmes on ITV that are worth watching or placing on series link on SKY+.

That was until I started watching Broadchurch. The eight-part series has made 9pm every Monday night an essential appointment with the sofa and the telly.

ITV have always been able to rustle up middle of the road beige television such as Morse, Heartbeat and Downton Abbey, and it was with trepidation that Mrs & Mrs East-West started watching Broadchurch. But after seven episodes, with the final instalment tonight, I can safely say that ITV have hit the jackpot. They have served up mainstream drama that has proved to be a critically acclaimed ratings smash. 10 million people are watching every week. It has been a revelation.

Unlike any other British whodunnit in the past 20 years or so, it has taken its time to solve the crime. Most crime dramas on British television are quickly wrapped up as a mini series, and as a result, the plot holes are bigger than a script from an episode of Dallas.

The decision to reduce the pace in favour of suspense and plot has given Broadchurch a similar feel to that of its Danish cousin – The Killing. Although the drama is set in a sleepy and incredibly, sunny Dorset town, rather than Copenhagen noir.

Tonight we finally get the unmasking of Danny Latimer’s killer, and like The Killing, the drama offers a simple structural lesson in TV drama – take time with the plot, treat the audience with respect, and slowly ratchet up the suspense – and the audience and critics will love you for it.

The lead performances from the ubiquitous David Tennant and the brilliant soon-to-be national treasure that is Olivia Colman (Peep Show, Twenty Twelve, Green Wing and Rev) give the drama chemistry, weight and gravitas. Pauline Quirke’s menacing portrayal of the sinister Susan Wright has also been a welcome surprise.

Broadchurch is not perfect. A few of the support cast have the most piss-poor south west accents ever heard on TV, and the unfathomably pleasant weather is hardly representative of the Vitamin D inhibiting climate served up in the south west over the past 2 years.

ITV have kept tonight’s conclusion of Broadchurch under lock and key. Not since ‘Who shot JR?’ has there been a TV mystery that has become a water cooler moment of discussion.

Speaking of which, in terms of my own armchair detective work towards who killed Danny Latimer…my money is Tom Miller, and covered up by his father.

If you have missed Broadchurch and have somehow avoided all the coverage and spoilers by living on the moon for the last eight weeks, then I recommend that you do the decent thing and buy the boxed set.

So, by 10.15pm tonight, all will be revealed. For 10 million of us, it can’t come soon enough, and yet we do not want it to end.

Congratulations ITV, you have finally made something worth watching.

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