In this harrowing, eight-part murder mystery, a quiet seaside town is shaken to its core when an 11-year-old boy’s murdered body is discovered on the beach. Police detectives Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and Alec Hardy (David Tennant) investigate the crime, unearthing secrets the townspeople would rather keep buried. Broadchurch premieres Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 10pm ET/PT on BBC America.
There are many benefits to living in the English town of Broadchurch: beautiful beaches, a vibrant tourist economy and lovely vistas from a coastal bluff. The residents all know each other like family, which makes the discovery of an 11-year-old boy’s murdered body on the beach all the more disturbing.
In BBC America’s eight-part drama Broadchurch, police detectives Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and Alec Hardy (David Tennant) investigate the crime, unearthing secrets the townspeople would rather keep buried. At the same time, journalists from the local newspaper do some sleuthing of their own and bring a media firestorm upon their once quiet town.
“That idea of who owns the narrative of a crime infuses Broadchurch throughout,” says creator and writer Chris Chibnall. “Who gets to solve the crime first, certainly [in England], it becomes an obsession, and a lot of journalists like to think that they can solve the crimes, as some of them have done.”
The frosty relationship between Hardy and Miller further complicates the investigation. Miller is a close friend of the victim’s family, and she often can’t distance herself emotionally from her work. Hardy is an outsider who doesn’t know anything about the residents and wants the residents to know even less about him. “All those great detective partnerships that I love are always polar,” Chibnall says. “We’ve all had people we’ve worked with, you go, ‘I really can’t stand that person and yet they seem to be really quite good at their job, and that makes me more infuriated with them.’ I wanted to play on the frustration of that, but also the fun of that.”
Chibnall also plays on the idea of privacy, or lack thereof. Secrets are hard to keep in a small town. They’re even harder to keep when we leave digital fingerprints everywhere on social media. “I think we’re offering up information to be looked at and to be studied and we’re accidentally keeping a record of every aspect of our lives — often contradictory, some of it private, some of it emotional — all the time, and that’s one of the things that Broadchurch obsesses over,” he says. “How can you ever know people? And what traces do we leave behind in life and in death? And are they clues to the real us, or can they confuse people and are they actually not clues to the real us?”
Photo: © ITV and Kudos Film & Television Limited. Credit: Colin Hutton