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British hit 'Broadchurch' hits American airwaves

Published August 4, 2013 8:12 pm

Television • Add this gripping crime drama to "Downton" and "Sherlock" addictions.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Beverly Hills, Calif. • "Broadchurch," which took the UK by storm, lands on American shores and brings with it a taut, riveting drama that you won't be able to stop watching.

"It's hard to overstate the reaction to 'Broadchurch,' " said Richard De Croce, BBC America's senior vice president of programming. "Lauded by critics, discussed over the nation's dinner tables and tweeted about more than any drama in UK history, we can't wait to premiere it."

"Broadchurch" didn't become a Brit hit because it's easy to watch. On the contrary, this is as tough as it gets. It begins with the discovery of an 11-year-old boy's body on the beach in Broadchurch, and the ensuing investigation rips the town apart.

"This is the worst possible thing you can imagine," said Olivia Colman, who stars as Det. Sgt. Ellie Miller. "Personally, I've always been a fairly emotional person anyway. Now, with children, I have no armor at all."

She said there were "lots of scenes" in the script where it indicated "Ellie doesn't cry."

"And I was kind of, 'Good luck with that because I'm afraid I won't be able to stop,' " Colman said. "I can't watch those clips where Jodie [Whittaker, who stars as Beth Latimer] sees her boy on the beach. I can't look at her. You just have to know what love feels like in order to experience that pain, I think."

Ellie is teamed with by-the-book Det. Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant), her new boss. Not only are they trying to solve a horrible crime in a small town, but they're doing it in the spotlight of media scrutiny and in the midst of political pressure to keep the crime from harming the town's tourism trade.

"There's humor, and there's such wonderful moments in it," said Whittaker. "But the basis is the most unimaginable event."

Any parent will immediately identify with the fears raised in "Broadchurch," by screenwriter Chris Chinbnall.

"Maybe that is a fear that was in the back of Chris' mind," said Colman. "When you watch these awful things on the news if a child is missing, you think, 'Did I say the right thing to them the night before? If only I had done this. If only I had done that.'

"I think it's a constant fear and worry."

"I also think you don't know everything that's going on in your child's life," said Whittaker. "That's how it should be in some ways, but it's also quite terrifying that even children have these secrets and have potential friendships or arguments with people that you don't know."

The murder mystery gripped not just the viewers, but the cast.

"No one knew the end. Including the person that did it," Whittaker said.

David Bradley, who plays shopkeeper Jack Marshall — a primary suspect in the murder — said cast members picked up on a police statement that the killer had large hands.

"So we were looking at each other's hands to see who had the largest hands," he said.

"We were all obsessed with it," Colman said. "Desperate to find out."

As were viewers in the UK.

BBC America hopes viewers on this side of the pond are just as riveted.

spierce@sltrib.com

Watch it

The American premiere of "Broadchurch" debuts on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 8 and 11 p.m. on BBC America.