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TV: Broadchurch (2013)

Broadchurch Series 1 is an eight part ITV ensemble drama, written and created by Chris Chibnall, whose previous work includes United, Torchwood, Law & Order: UK and Doctor Who.

It was filmed on location near Bristol in Portishead and Clevedon, as well as Bridport in Dorset. Filming began in mid August and continued until early December 2012.

Immediately on broadcast in March 2013, Broadchurch was being tipped for BAFTA awards across all aspects. By May 2014 it has won FreeSat, TVChoice,  Crimethriller,  SkyArts,  Broadcast, RTSBroadcast Press Guild and BAFTA awards for best drama, as well as being nominated for the National Television Awards. And….Andrew won the best supporting actor Crimethriller award!

Broadchurch Series 2 - In mid-May 2014, one year after the first series had ended, it was announced that all four leading actors - Andrew Buchan, Jodie Whittaker, Olivia Colman and David Tennant - would be reprising their characters in Broadchurch series 2. Filming started in late May. One month later it was announced that series 2 would be broadcast in late 2014.

Read about Chris Chibnall’s inspiration for Broadchurch here.

Synopsis

Broadchurch tells the story of a small community and the devastating emotional repercussions for everyone caught up in the mysterious death of a young boy. 

Bloodied and dirty, Danny Latimer has been found dead on an idyllic beach, surrounded by rocks and a jutting cliff-face from where he may have fallen.  Whilst his death remains unresolved, the picturesque coastal town of Broadchurch is at the heart of a major police investigation and a national media frenzy.

The sadness of losing a child consumes Danny’s family, Beth and Mark Latimer, their daughter 15 year old Chloe and Beth’s mum, Liz as they attempt to cope with their grief. Understandably they struggle to cope with the unwarranted attention heaped upon them.  Devastated by their loss, they struggle to relate to their friends, neighbours, the church, the press, and the police.

DI Alec Hardy, an out-of-town, newly promoted police detective who takes the job local girl DS Ellie Miller believes should have been hers.  Ellie has to find reserves of patience and toughness to negotiate a professional relationship with the difficult and unyielding Hardy. Yet as the drama progresses, Hardy’s own secrets are laid bare.  Ellie is also emotionally involved with this case.  Ellie’s son Tom was the dead boy’s best friend and she’s known Danny all his young life.  How could she not be drawn in? But Hardy’s clinical methods force Ellie to see the community she grew up in through a different prism.

One by one the community of Broadchurch are drawn into the police enquiry.  Local hoteliers and business people are implicated as the effects of a death in the community begins to impact on their hard-earned livelihoods.  But can the town survive such a seismic shock during its economically crucial summer months?  As the case drags on, the whole town will come under pressure: personal, economic, professional and emotional.

It’s not a ‘whodunit’ or a traditional police drama.  Broadchurch focuses on a small British community which finds itself at the eye of a storm.  It’s a story of scale and intimacy, as the lives of the characters are laid bare.

Andrew’s role

Andrew plays the role of Mark Latimer, the father of the dead boy, requiring an intense, emotional performance, ranging from physical anger to subtle sensitivity.  As ever, he makes his character utterly believable, and at times absolutely heart-rending.  Amongst the early highlights is the mortuary scene in the first episode which was filmed without rehearsal and on the first take.

Not surprisingly, given the subject matter, Andrew found this role quite difficult: There have been some hard scenes, some very hard scenes. There hasn’t been one day where I have come in and thought ‘yeah, this will be fine’. I had a slight fear of each scene, it’s not the kind of material you can relax into or make predictions about how it might play. You go into each scene not knowing if you’re going to be a lump of tears at the end of it or grabbing your best mate by the throat.

It leaves you feeling pretty raw and exhausted, but nothing that a big tea and a hot shower couldn’t sort. Some days you’d feel dry from crying so much the day before, and some days you wouldn’t be able to stop yourself. We were all walking wrecks. (ITV Presspack)

Jodie Whittaker described working with Andrew as a real bonus: We were both in Cranford together but never actually had any scenes together. I have known Andy for ages as we were in different drama schools but graduated the same year, but it has been absolutely brilliant to work with him and he is just phenomenal in Broadchurch. 

As the dad in the Latimer family he is so emotional. One minute he has to be the rock, and the next he is so angry and just to watch the process he goes through makes it really easy for me in a scene as I never know how he is going to do it, which is life; it’s real. It’s been a long slog as there has been a kind of responsibility not to glorify this or make it popcorn – you just have to think ‘this could be someone’s life’. The commitment of everyone involved has been amazing to be around. (ITV Presspack)

Olivia Colman revealed how she found Andrew’s and Jodie’s performances as the bereaved parents overpowering: They were amazing, but I couldn’t look at them without sobbing.

And Joe Sims made the following comments about working on BroadchurchIt was a dream come true. For any actor the idea of working with the theatrical and televisual glitteratti like David, Olivia, Andy, Jodie, Pauline etc is daunting and exciting in the same way but they were so approachable, kind and considerate both as actors and people so it was a real joy.

There is no ego with any of these guys and they are model professionals and that hopefully rubbed off on my own performance. In addition they are fantastic company with 100’s of great stories, you could have a beer with them and listen to them all night…and I’m pleased to say I do still!

I’m not one for crying ordinarily but when Andy Buchan goes into identify Danny and blames himself and says ‘I love you zillions superstar’ I was a mess. Andy’s choices throughout the whole series were incredible and I found him so watchable. - Facebook

There is no need to force anything that isn’t there and working with actors like Andy Buchan … is like the cheapest drama school ever!  Such subtle, nuanced performances that you can’t help but to learn and grow. BFA

A must-see for Andrew’s fans

Andrew is joined by a glittering array of acting talent: Jodie Whittaker plays his wife, Beth; David Tennant - DI Alec Hardy; Olivia Colman – DS Ellie Miller; Arthur Darvill – the town priest, to name but a few!

From the earliest previews and throughout its run this serial was lauded by both critics and public alike – not just for the acting of the ensemble cast, but also for the writing, the episode structure and character development, and the cinematography, which made superb use of the locations, particularly the Dorset coast and cliffs. Viewing figures were averaging 9million over each week – the best ITV drama ratings since 2005.

The TV preview Q&A took place in London on February 19th (Andrew’s birthday!).  Andrew did not attend as he was in LA, but he did get some mentions by the other leading cast!  

Eventually Andrew was interviewed on ITV’s This Morning just prior to the third episode and revealed some more insight into his role, how he prepared for the Dorset accent and his feelings about the rest of the cast.

Fun facts

An interview with Joe Sims (who played plumber’s mate, Nige Carter) revealed a couple of filming incidents involving Andrew:

1) this beach scene, when a huge wave came in and covered them all!

and 2) Andrew’s tumble!

It was the scene on the beach in ep8 where he was so committed he fell on the rocks and bashed his knee so had to go to A&E. Testament to the 100% focus and commitment he has to his role. -tweeted Joe Sims

Later, in the blu-ray commentary, Chris Chibnall mentioned that as a result of the accident, Andrew actually couldn’t walk during the filming of Danny’s funeral!

And in the same commentary, Olivia Colman once again voiced her fan feelings about Andrew, while watching the scene in Danny’s room at the beginning of ep. 8:

look how his beautiful handsome face breaks

The Broadchurch Bluray contained 3 deleted scenes involving Andrew:

  • ep1 Mark confronts Ellie & Hardy following the twitterleak
  • ep7 Mark and Beth discuss their need for counselling
  • ep7 Mark and Beth wait for their scan appointment

Despite the heavy promotion of Bridport (West Bay) as the key location of Broadchurch, very few of Andrew’s outside scenes were actually filmed there, except:

  • deleted scene following twitterleak (ep1)
  • cctv footage of Briar Cliff car park (ep2)
  • leaving the police station (ep3)
  • harbourside night vigil - Danny reconstruction (ep5)
  • confrontation with Jack & posse (ep5)
  • Hardy’s beach dream scene (ep6)
  • Briar Cliff car park flashback (ep8)

Virtually everything else location-wise for Andrew was filmed in or around Clevedon, near Bristol! Including the very final scene

The Broadchurch DVD Extras includes an interview with Andrew at the read-through and comments by Jodie about working with him! AcornMedia released this clip as a taster!

In the Broadchurch twitter Q&A, writer Chris Chibnall said: I had some actors in mind while writing (eg Olivia, Arthur), others such as Jodie and Andy just did irresistible readings. 

Read a transcript of the Q&A here.

Following the screening by BBCAmerica, Chris revealed more about the finale filming and acting in an interview with Entertainment Weekly; including a comment about this scene with Andy:

And… the Blu-Ray commentary revealed more about Andrew’s role and more production details too!

Even more insights about all aspects of the production of Broadchurch were revealed in the RTS Event video: Anatomy of a Hit in Nov2013.

Rumours about Broadchurch series2 storyline and casting have been rife and Chris Chibnall does little to reassure anyone - like this interview:

Andrew and Jodie are just off camera!

Then just days later at the Radio Times Covers Party this:

LOL! 

A possible explanation about the limited Broadchurch promo shots of Andrew came from photographer, Colin Hutton:

I was approached about shooting the specials and unit for Broadchurch in July 2012. I was unable to do the unit due to a 6 week trip to Sri Lanka & Bangladesh but Chris Chibnall (the writer) and Richard Stokes (the producer) were still happy for me to shoot the specials when I returned. The shoot eventually took place in late October 2012 on a very cold and windswept beach in West Bay, Dorset.  I shot a series of cast portraits throughout the day with the large cast shot arranged for the end of the day.

We did our pre-light for the main group shot with various stand-ins and waited for our cast to assemble.  It was all running a bit late as the cast were shooting that day, but we just managed to get our shots in before darkness set in.  Everything was captured in camera, except the sky which I later replaced with a warmer sunset sky, more in keeping with the feel of the show itself.  Nobody knew then what a critical and public phenomenon the show would turn out to be.

It was the ‘specials’ shots (plus some unit shots from the ep1 beach scene) that were released in the promotion of Broadchurch – presumably Andrew and Jodie were busy filming that day and could only turn up for the group & large cast shots!

Here are the three unit shots that were eventually released:

!!!

Links 

Wikipedia entry

IMDb entry

Fan review tweets #1 & #2

This Morning interview audio clips: the Dorset accent, the harrowing content, his fellow cast members!

ITV Press release

Photo credits

Broadchurch trailer

ITV trailer

ITV Press Pack

DVD

Blu-ray

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