THE third and final series of Broadchurch is set to hit our screens later this month when the daring duo of DI Hardy and Ellie Miller will be faced with another heinous crime within the ill fated Dorset coastal town, writes Nicky Sweetland.
The award winning television Drama has become famed, not just for its harrowing storylines and relatable local characters, but also for its picturesque setting, with much of the series filmed in and around West Bay.
Broadchurch stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman, as DI Hardy and Ellie Miller, a local crime-solving duo, whose lives and careers are irrevocably changed after a child’s body is found at the bottom of the East Cliff.
The popular pair is called upon one last time with a new story, which begins three years after we were last in Broadchurch.
Lives have moved on. Some people have left, some have arrived – and there’s a new case to test this old partnership.
A whole host of stars are joining the cast for the final installment, including BAFTA winners Lenny Henry and Georgina Campbell, Sarah Parish, Charlie Higson, Mark Bazeley and National Television Award winner Julie Hesmondhalgh.
Julie Hesmondhalgh plays Trish Winterman, a farm shop worker with a daughter who has recently become estranged from her husband and becomes the victim of a serous sexual assault.
The actress undertook exhaustive investigation before taking on the role in order to make her portrayal as truthful as possible and met with SARC, the dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre for Dorset, who provides a comprehensive service to men, women and children who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
She was surprised by the sheer volume of victims and said, “There’s no template for who it happens to and it seems like an epidemic, so it’s great that a programme like Broadchurch is highlighting this type of issue”
“In particular, what they have wanted to do with this is to show women that the police is a safe place to go to and that things have changed. There used to be the feeling that you would be treated very badly or not believed and I think there has been a change in the culture of that. Who better to show that than Ellie and Alec?”
“They are the police that everyone would want to go to for something like this.”
Hesmondhalgh is no stranger to powerful portrayals having previously played the transgender Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, a role for which she garnered six major awards including a National Television Award.
The traumatic episodes depicting her assisted suicide were watched by over 9.5 million viewers.
The actress is very aware of the impact her profession can have on audiences and said, “Historically I’ve played parts that involve people going through stuff and I’m always very mindful that I’m acting, it’s a job and I can switch off at the end of the day.
“It certainly makes you feel very empathic to people who have gone though it.”
Julie has appeared on stage in Manchester and London, and on television in Happy Valley and Cucumber, but was amazed when she got the call to be in the new series of Broadchurch and to play such an important role in the show.
“It was a real honour to be asked, but obviously its something that interests me; doing stuff that has something to say about the world is part of who I am so that’s probably why I attract parts like this. It always gives it an extra something to feel like, hopefully, it’s making some kind of difference.”
Julie had never visited the area before, but was very impressed by the picturesque backdrop and the welcoming locals.
“I knew the scenery was so beautiful and I’ve loved it.”
The actress stayed in a caravan at Freshwater for most of the time she was filming in the area.
“I’d walk over the cliffs to work every morning. I went on walks to Burton Bradstock and I’m very acquainted with all the different beers and all of the different cafes of the West Bay area, so I’m a real fan of it now.”
“I’m definitely coming back to Dorset, I love it.”
Locals have previously been scornful about some of the accents used by the cast, with many sounding more Bristolian than Dorset. This is the first time Julie has performed a role without using her natural speaking voice, which has a strong Lancashire twang, so I was interested to know how she had got to grips with the native tongue
“Apparently I am doing Dorset! I don’t know and I’m absolutely terrified about it, but I’ve worked very, very hard.
“I had a month off and when I came back to it I sounded like a proper ‘Farmer Giles’, so I had to get in touch with my dialect coach. He had to give me all the sounds again. It’s not what you think it is.”
“Sarah [Parish] is from Yeovil and although it’s Somerset she knows the difference between the local accents, so it’s been very helpful to me.”
Creator Chris Chibnall has once again written all eight episodes of the drama and is sad to bring the show to its final conclusion.
Chris Chibnall said: “Broadchurch has been a life-changing experience for me, and for many of us who make it. It’s been a strange, mad honour to experience the passion of audiences for this story and these characters. It’s been wonderful to film in (and showcase) the South West of England -the people of Bridport, West Bay and Clevedon have done us proud across all three series. But all good stories come to an end. I hope this one has enough twists and turns, laughter and tears to go out in style.”
You can watch the new series of Broadchurch on ITV1