Pop Culture Advisory: Broadchurch

Broadchurch, the finale of which was Britain’s most-tweeted-about television show ever (including those episodes of Downton Abbey‘s third season in which those…things happened. You know. The things), is set to air in the States on August 7 on BBC America. The eight-episode series, which follows the search for a young boy’s killer and examines the effects of the child’s death on his small Dorset community, was such a hit in the UK that at least one company is offering walking tours of the filming sites, the UK’s Ebury Press has splashed an “If you liked Broadchurch, you’ll love this!” blurb on the cover of its July release of Jane Casey’s police-procedural novel The Stranger You Know (set for release in the States by Minotaur in Spring 2014), and word is coming out of the Television Critics Association summer press tour that Fox is remaking the show for a wider U.S. release. (The latter seems like a terrible idea, but it does serve as an indication of the original’s popularity.)

See the trailer below or watch the first episode in full on the BBC’s site.

In Broadchurch, David Tennant plays Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, who leads the investigation into the death of young Danny Miller. Tennant may be best known as the tenth Doctor on Dr. Who, but he has a wide-ranging career on screens both large (e.g., Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and small (Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s modern-dress televised version of the play; “Regenerated Tony Blair” on the BBC’s sketch comedy show Dead Ringers), as well as on stage; he’ll be appearing with the Royal Shakespeare Company this fall as Richard II.

While, at first glance, the crime drama may not appear to have much in common with frequently zany sf/f series Dr. Who, the list of actors who appear on both shows extends far beyond their shared leading man. BBC America compiled a handy list for anyone interested. In addition, Chris Chibnall, Broadchurch‘s executive producer, wrote several episodes of Dr. Who, and was head writer and coproducer of Who spinoff Torchwood,

Olivia Colman plays Broadchurch‘s Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller. For more of her, check out Twenty Twelve, a mockumentary about the preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Colman won the 2013 BAFTA for Best Female Comedy Performance for her portrayal of Sally Owen, personal assistant to Hugh “Lord Grantham” Bonneville’s Head of Deliverance of the Olympic Deliverance Committee.

Broadchurch is hardly the first story to use the death or disappearance of a young person to examine the dynamics and relationships within families and communities, of course.

  • In David Lynch’s groundbreaking television show Twin Peaks, beloved local teenager Laura Palmer is found dead, and divinely quirky FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is dispatched to the tiny Washington State town of Twin Peaks to investigate, in the process unearthing the dark secrets of various townspeople and Laura herself.
  • Val McDermid’s Edgar-nominated A Place of Execution, which was adapted into a miniseries, moves back and forth through time as Detective Inspector George Bennett investigates the disappearance of young Alison Carter from an isolated Derbyshire village in 1963 and present-day journalist Catherine Heathcote tries to figure out why George has suddenly withdrawn from her documentary about the case.
  • Belinda Bauer’s Blacklands has a young protagonist as well as a young victim. Steven Lamb, 12, is convinced that his uncle, who vanished when he was a year younger than Steven is now, was murdered by a serial killer. He spends his free time looking for the body on the moors near his home, hoping to help his grandmother find closure. Then he decides to speed the process along by contacting the killer in prison.
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Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.