Broadchurch series 3 episode 1 review

broadchurch series 3 episode 1

WARNING: spoilers below

When ITV unveiled Broadchurch back in March 2013, a few of the bosses had hopes it might do quite well. Those who’d worked on the series’ production expected some favourable reviews and good viewing figures too. Behind the scenes, they knew they’d made a solid, realistic and gripping crime drama. What they didn’t realise is they’d come up with a HUGE smash hit that would regularly draw in over ten million viewers a week, spawn a US remake and capture the public imagination in an almost unprecedented manner.

Four years on, and after an ever so slightly disappointing follow-up second series, we find ourselves back on the Dorset coast, investigating another shocking crime in what looks set to be the final chapter in Broadchurch‘s history. The murder of little Danny Latimer still casts a shadow over the place, but people are slowly moving on. New faces are being drawn into their own nightmares, though – not least of all farm shop worker Trish Winterman, played in devastating fashion by Coronation Street’s Julie Hesmondhalgh. The chirpy face of Hayley Cropper gone, Trish is the focal point of this first episode and the pivot of the eight episode series.

We open not with a body on a beach this time around, but with a battered and bruised woman making a telephone call. Disorientated and in shock, Trish calls the police to report a serious and violent sexual assault. She tells DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) that’s she’s been struck over the back of the head with a blunt object, tied up and raped. Her attacker? She didn’t see. The ever-bickering Hardy and Miller soon uncover the scene of the crime. And some potentially vital clues at that scene. They also discover that the list of suspects could be as many as FIFTY. Well, this is Broadchurch, after all…

This first episode, as you might expect, mostly serves to lay out the plot for us. But it also reacquaints us with some familiar faces so ties with the past aren’t entirely severed. Newcomers to the series need not panic, though. Subtle exposition clues the more casual viewer in to what’s happened previously in Broadchurch. Trish’s case worker is Beth Latimer (Jodie Whitaker), Danny’s still-grieving mum. Danny’s dad Mark (Andrew Buchan) is still in town too – only a squeak more stable than he was the last time we saw him. Will he find himself drawn into the mire of this new case?

As for new faces? Well, it looks as though we’re being drip fed them slowly. Roy Hudd turns up as Ellie’s dad. Plus we met Trish’s friend Cath Atwood (played by Sarah Parish) and her unwelcoming husband – and Trish’s employer (Sir Lenny Henry). Plus, obviously, a couple of seriously shady sorts who skulk in the bushes looking pretty darn suspicious… We’ll no doubt hear and see more from that lot (as well as a whole host of other shady folk) as the Monday evenings pass.

One criticism that the second season faced was a certain lack of accuracy with its police – and specifically court – procedures. But this time around, no such critique can be made. The fine line between realism and entertainment, in this first episode at least, is perfectly tread.

There’s a quiet assurance and patience about this opener. The kind of confidence that comes from a programme with form. Reviews for series two may not have matched those for Broadchurch’s maiden outing, but with a new grounded, believable and gripping case, we’ve got a good feeling about series three.

Just don’t ask us to guess whodunit!

Did you tune in for Broadchurch series 3 episode 1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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  1. Susan Gregory says

    I loved it ,thought it was handled very well ,and looking forward to next week

  2. Barry Bowen says

    This first episode of Broadchurch (3) was beautifully paced and well acted, especially by Julie Hesmondhalgh as the woman ‘raped near water’. Of course, this being a TV series, DS Ellie Miller gives the raped woman her home phone number! The pace is the winner though. The writer and director have fully understood that even in this fast multi-tasking technological world viewers don’t need scenes to change every five seconds, volume to be high, and sound FX to almost drown out the actors. We are instead drawn in to an emotionally charged story that (almost) moves at the pace of life. In fact, my only negative comment is aimed at the truly annoying rushed credits and voice over trail for the next programme. Luckily, I had recorded it, so I could pause the actor credits in silence and allow the impact of this excellent production stay with me for a while longer.

  3. Isabella du Lac says

    Am I the only one who has problems with this Series? I tuned out very quickly to Series 1, found the acting overdone, weird, strange responses and very annoying responses, not at all life like. I suppose Tennant saved it from being a complete washout, but he certainly didn’t stretch his acting abilities in this series. His sidekick was off the planet… Broadchurch could learn a thing or two from the Nordic Noir TV, such as The Killing, The Bridge etc. At present this series is stuck between ‘OTT weirdness’ and ‘crime noir’.

    • Jo says

      Totally agree. Ep 3 got worse. Obviously written by a man – no woman on earth would put herself through a re-enactment knowing she may have to do the same verbally in court. Acting too unnatural. I wasn’t moved at all what a shame after all the hype.