Broadchurch utterly compelling telly

GORDON BROWN
Last updated 16:52 19/05/2014
broadchurch

BROADCHURCH: There is a lot which is suggested, but not confirmed, just to pique our interest.

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Broadchurch (Sunday 8.30pm) takes over from MasterChef NZ and provides a complete change of pace, mercifully.

It's one of those quality British dramas, which is just as well. When I first looked at the new programme, I thought we'd gone back a generation and were now going to show religious programmes on a Sunday night.

But no, it was something quite different.

The body of 11-year-old Danny is found on the beach at Broadchurch, and police officers Alec Hardy and Elle Miller are called in to investigate a case that will change the town forever.

There was a clue at the beginning when there was a warning that this was a show for adults (hurray) but some scenes could disturb. How right they were.

Right from the opening scenes this show was scary.

It went from a shot of Danny's empty bedroom, to Danny standing on a cliff's edge, blood dripping from him, in the middle of the night.

That was enough for Mrs Brown who buried her head in her hands and said "I can't handle this" and stopped watching. I pointed out the programme had only been on for 12 seconds, but she reckoned that was enough for her. She has a theory that if something on the telly starts in a scary or violent way, they tend to generally continue in the same vein, so she figures they can do without her.

Elle is upset to find out she was overlooked as DI, which regular television viewers will know means Detective Inspector, but hardly anyone actually says the whole two words in full, it's so uncool. It's the same with PC [police constable] and DS [Detective Sergeant]. The British can be so frugal in many ways, not the least of which is the English language.

There is a body at the beach and as DI Hardy gets closer he has a panic attack. "Oh God, don't do this to me. . ."

We find out later he has a skeleton or two in his closet, but we've got to wait until next week to find out just what it is. And that's the beauty of this series, There is a lot which is suggested, but not confirmed, just to pique our interest.

When Elle arrives she and Alec introduce themselves to each other. "I know who you are," she says. "You got my job."

They have a little difference of opinion, but soon Danny's mother arrives. After belatedly learning her son never showed up for school, she suspects the worst.

The ensuing scene was horrible as she realises the body is Danny's. At this stage I wish I'd followed Mrs B's lead and was somewhere else. It was horrific, but then that's what good acting, scripting and producing can do. This was great in an horrific way and completely compelling. As Danny's Mum was led away screaming, an ad break mercifully came on. Time for a cuppa. Or even an Oyster Bay sav blanc, but alas Mrs B's family had cleaned that out in a recent visit.

So Dilmah it was.

Anyway, back to Broadchurch. It seems everyone knows everyone else and in the middle of it all is noble young journalist. He rushes to the beach after someone tips off the paper that a body has been found. He asks DI Hardy and DS Miller what's going on.

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"There'll be a statement later," he's told in best police speak.

"I heard there was a body?"

"There'll be a statement later," he's told even more firmly.

"But Auntie Elle ..."

"I told you not to do that," says Auntie Elle, AKA [that's more crime TV talk, meaning Also Known As) DS Miller.

It's a needed bit of light relief.

Watching from a nearby caravan on the beach is a sinister woman, observing everything as it unfolds. She looks plain enough, but we know she's a baddie as soon as we see her, because sinister music plays while she stares stone-faced.

Broadchurch is gut-wrenching, sob-inducing drama at its English best. Tissues won't do the job with this one, but whatever you do, don't miss the remaining seven episodes. It's a great series.

One small tip: Don't watch the trailer at the end of each episode, it gives away far too much.

Finally, a brickbat to Sky Sport. On Monday it showed the final round of the prestigious Players Golf Championship. Mrs B is an avowed golf fan and as she was at work, I dutifully recorded it for her. Unfortunately there was a rain delay and Sky did not continue its coverage when the players came back. That meant missing the final few holes and the result! Whatever happened to live sport being given priority, specially as the following programme was live coverage of the speeches and interviews afterwards. Duh.

- The Timaru Herald

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