Beth Startin reflects on the ITV drama Broadchurch and finds an important message on abuse that subtly thwarts the conventional assumption that women whose partners have committed terrible crimes should have known what was going on.
Content note: contains non-graphic references to child abuse and murder.
I’m not the first to say Broadchurch is great. The high viewing figures and rave reviews, along with it reportedly being the most tweeted about UK drama ever, are testimony to that. It may have finished some time ago but its impact has continued. Beneath the complex plotline and the delicious David Tennant collapsing at every moment is an important message regarding child abuse and society’s attitude towards it. In particular, the series addresses one of the social pressures attached to motherhood and the common misconception that abusers can always be identified by their targets or those close to them.
For those of you who didn’t catch it during its recent run, Broadchurch is an eight-part murder mystery drama, set in the fictional village of the same name, where DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) lead an investigation into the murder of Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara), the best friend of Ellie’s son Tom (Adam Wilson). Danny is found on the beach in episode one and the series investigates various suspects for the murder, dropping clues in typical ‘whodunnit’ fashion while exploring themes of grief, loss and life in a small town where everyone knows your business…
Head and shoulders right-facing profile shot of Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller (left, near) and David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy (right) on a beach looking out to sea. This is the picture used on the cover of the DVD release of Broadchurch (series one).