herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Broadchurch is chancing its arm with a third season

WHEN the taxi driver posed the question “Where to, then, sir?” to David Tennant’s DI Alec Hardy in the finale of Broadchurch on Monday, I was hoping the answer might be, “As far way from Broadchurch as possible”. No such luck.

We’d no sooner left Hardy staring moodily into the distance – something he’d been doing rather a lot lately – than the continuity announcer told us we’d find out the answer in the third season. Shortly after, ITV tweeted confirmation that Broadchurch would indeed be returning.

Tennant and Olivia Colman will be

reprising their roles; beyond that, there’s been no indication of which other cast members will or won’t be back.

The nature of the plot is anyone’s guess. Maybe it will revolve around a brand new murder with a brand new gallery of suspects, which would mean the town of Broadchurch is second only to the village of Midsomer in terms of the number of killers lurking in the community.

Alternatively, writer Chris Chibnall might feel there’s yet more mileage to be wrung from the tragic story of the Latimers and the Millers. Perhaps Joe Miller, who got away with a murder everyone knows he committed and has been banished from the town, will return looking for custody of his children.

Or could it be that Joe really is an innocent man after all, and that the hunt for the real killer of young Danny Latimer will have to start from scratch again? For all sorts of reasons, logic says this simply can’t be the case. On the other hand, logic wasn’t allowed to get in the way this time, so why should it be an obstacle next time?

We probably should have seen a third season of Broadchurch coming anyway in the scene where warring QCs Jocelyn (Charlotte Rampling) and Sharon (Marie Jean-Baptiste) – two of the most tedious, unappealing and irrelevant characters in the whole thing – discussed the possibility of working together.

I have to say my first thought was they were being teed up for their own spin-off series. My second thought was that the apparently wrongful conviction of Sharon’s son could well form the basis of Broadchurch III.

Prior to the damp-squib finale, few people would have bet on ITV giving Broadchurch another spin on the merry-go-round. The critics’ reviews were overwhelmingly negative and the audience had dropped by a third to 5.3 million by the halfway point, although the viewing figure on Monday was back up to 7.8 million. I’d suggest this last-minute increase had more to do with curiosity than genuine interest.

Whether this many people will be this curious about Broadchurch ever again is another matter, especially after the comments David Tennant made the other week.

Tennant, a superb actor who comes across in interviews as one of nature’s genuine nice guys, claimed the hostile reviews and plummeting viewing figures were down to Broadchurch being “a victim of its own success”.

“They never let lightning strike twice in this country,” he said, rather churlishly. He appears to have forgotten about the many times lightning struck during his five years in Doctor Who, which made him the biggest and most bankable male actor on British tv.

If Broadchurch is a victim of anything, it’s of ITV and Chris Chibnall’s misguided desire to stretch what should have been a one-off miniseries to snapping point. If the third season is as bad as the second, expect the patience of its loyalist fans to snap too.

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