My name is Anthony, I live in Dorset and I’ve given up watching Broadchurch.
Oh God that feels good.
This is my first blog in ages and it’s about Broadchurch, the crime show that is filmed near where I live in Dorset oh and other places too that the Dorset Echo never refer to but for the record include Clevedon – where my Auntie Hilary lives – Exeter, North Devon and I think possibly Sherborne where my wife and I once saw Jill Dando driving an Aston Martin DB5.
Broadchurch is big down here, well as big as anything can get in West Dorset, the local paper the Dorset Echo when not covering such important stories as a man not being able to use the staff toilet in Superdrug* have a massive stiffy for the show. Their website has a special section for it and details everything down to the minutist detail – we’ve had stories about the cast – understandable, they are big stars! The locations – it’s a beautiful place, who doesn’t want to see it as often as possible? The shops and restaurants where it’s filmed – hmm not so interested to be honest, not so much as an article, more a free advert for featured establishments. The filming schedule – losing me now, and the self-proclaimed “Broadies” who organised a coach trip around the locations – the Dorset ones only mind, a trip up to Clevedon wouldn’t have been cost effective – and I’m gone.
The thing is that I don’t think it’s that good.
This isn’t a reaction against the populist nature of the show, or the mass coverage it gets down here. I’m not really that bothered with the list of mistakes that appeared in the papers at the weekend nor do I really care about the generic “Alright my lover!” West Country accents that bedevil the show – if the producers had gone for a full on Dorset accent like the one my father in law has then nobody would have understood a bloody word. I’ve known him 19 years and still struggle to know what he’s talking about half the time.
We’ve had conversations over the years that have gone like this:
Him: “Something, mumble, something, mumble, something, lardy cake.”
Me: “Did you see that thing about cows on the news?”
Him: “Thaaaaat’s whaaaaaat eye’ve bin taaaalking ‘bout!!!!” **
No I just don’t rate it. I think I know what the producers were going for, a reaction to the Scandinavian dramas that BBC4 have shown on recent years and which I have watched and have enjoyed – save for the ending of the series three of The Killing, what the hell was that about?!? So they’ve aimed impressively high but they don’t quite make it.
The main stumbling block for me is that I don’t like any of the characters in the show – no not even national treasure Olivia Coleman – she’s great as always but she’s not sympathetic but rather she’s pathetic and weak and gets trampled oncontinuously by everybody else in the show. I know that in the second series he’s been through a trauma which might explain that but she was like that in the first series before she went through all that. Danny’s family – horrible the lot of them. That bald bloke who works for Danny’s dad – a yokel simpleton – I could go on – nobody in the show warms the heart and I don’t care for them.
Where’s the Sara Lund whose jumpers I desire or the Martin Rohde who my wife compares me to and who she’ll miss more than words can say from series three of The Bridge?
That’s my main problem and why I gave up on Broadchurch it last week. Okay so I’ll backtrack yes the glaring mistakes do matter – it’s not like a show being set in the 1950s featuring a train from the 1960s, it’s worse than that and it affects the storyline. ITV have said that it’s a fiction and they’ve had support in that from eminent critics such as Mark Lawson but when the writer bends the law to enable a story to develop down a route which it wouldn’t have been able to develop without the bending then I have an issue.
I’ve done jury duty and have seen at first-hand how boring a criminal case can be but that’s no excuse for painting a false picture of what goes on in a Crown Court. Kavanagh QC never felt the need to do it and frankly it’s lazy writing on the part of Chris Chibnall to resort to such tactics.
I know what it wants to do and I really wanted it to work but Broadchurch has become more like a soap as it’s progressed and this process has been aided by the blatant shoe horning in of the David Tennant back story which we are meant to believe is something that was going on during the entire first series – oh come off it!!! Stop now please.
Maybe I was spoilt by the shows the preceded it and inspired it but Broadchurch can’t hold a candle to The Bridge or The Killing and no matter how hard it to tries to do so, I don’t think it ever will and I won’t be back to watch it.
That’s my other main issue, I want my crime drama to fascinate me, to keep me wanting to come back for me, to tease me, to shock me and to get my heart racing – Prime Suspect did that to me but Broadchurch just doesn’t and it has failed to do so since the very first episode. Characters came and went, were spooky or scary without ever really explaining why and the best character they had in series one – come on you know it was Pauline Quirke – was shamefully underused.
Maybe television has moved on from the days of classics such as Alec Guinness in the Smiley adaptations or Bob Peck in Edge of Darkness and my favourite, Ray McAnally in A Very British Coup.
These are dramas that decades on are still fondly remembered, eulogised over and watched with new eyes are drop dead classics of British television– will Broadchurch be so fondly remembered in five, ten or twenty years time? Getting quality actors such as Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Charlotte Rampling into a production was a casting coup for ITV – it just seems such a shame to have put them into such an underwhelming thing as the second series of Broadchurch.
The word subjective comes into play here and means that some of you will be saying “Yes” and some “No” – I fall in the latter camp but I’d honestly – and despite what I’ve just written would rather be in the former.
** No, not racist, Dorset people are not a race.