Broadchurch Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Broadchurch is a small seaside town in Dorset. Police Inspector Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), the darling of the entire precinct, returns from vacation fully convinced that she is waiting for the promotion promised to her by the head of the precinct. However, when she returns, she finds out that she won’t get the place – the boss gave it to a stranger: Detective Alec Hardy (David Tennant), who seems to have a lot of experience, but the trail of a loser stretches behind him – there was one high-profile investigation that Hardy failed.

Well, literally on the very first day of Alec’s work in a new place, the city is shocked by the terrible news that the body of Danny Latimer, an 11-year-old teenager with whom Ellie’s son Tom (Adam Wilson) went to school, was found on a deserted beach under a rock. Moreover, Ellie herself is friends with Danny’s mother Beth (Jody Whittaker).

Ellie, not surprisingly, does not feel any sympathy for Alec Hardy, who has taken the place promised to her, and besides, Alec himself does not seek to win over anyone: initially he gives the impression of a dry, unfriendly and frankly unpleasant person. And the two of them now have to investigate what happened.

The death of the boy was already a very big shock for this small town, and here the circumstances are aggravated by the fact that one of the local residents seems to be involved in the murder, because no strangers appeared in the city the day before. That is, most likely, the boy was killed by a person whom you not only could simply know, but it could also turn out to be a person you know very well.

During the investigation, Alec and Ellie begin to find out very unpleasant things. Many suspects do not have an alibi or it is false, when they take statements from people who may hypothetically be involved in what happened, people begin to lie to them, and, in general, many residents of the city have their own problems and their skeletons in the closets.

Ellie has a particularly hard time during the investigation: she knows these people well, she talked with many of them. And then there’s this damn Alec Hardy, who is not inclined to show at least some sympathy for people: he sees suspects in everyone and Ellie is very depressing.


The 2013 series, that is, it’s already quite old, but it was repeatedly recommended to me, it also stars David Tennant, whose fan I became after the series “Good Omens” and “Staging” (I was already a fan of the brilliant Michael Sheen long before that), so I decided to finally watch it.

And in the end, I watched the entire first season, which is a completely finished work: it was originally planned to have a mini-series there, that is, it is more of a multi-part film, and not a serial chewing gum, stretched for hell knows how many seasons.

The original name of the series is given by the name of the fictional city of Broadchurch (actually filmed on the coast of West Bay in Dorset and in the city of Clivedon, near Bristol), and the phrase “Broad church” (wide church) is also hidden in this title, which has slightly different interpretations in the religious and in the political sense, but in general it means the breadth of different views. To be honest, I can’t draw any obvious parallels to what is happening in the series, because here we are talking not about looks, but about actions, but maybe someone else managed to find these parallels .

When I read the reviews of viewers and critics after watching, I found out with considerable surprise that many of them draw some kind of parallels between this series and the Scandinavian-German series “Murder”, and they also say that “Murder on the Beach” is almost a remake of the Scandinavian series. Which sounds like complete nonsense, because in “Murder” they investigated the rape and murder of a young girl, well, there were no intersections with this series at all. This is besides the fact that “The Murder”, in my opinion, is a rather weak series (which is strange for the Scandinavians, who are traditionally strong in this genre), the ending there is hugging and crying (mostly crying over wasted time), and that’s why it has the same high rating as this series – that’s a big mystery to me.

Murder on the Beach showrunner Chris Chibnall conceived the series back in 2002. However, only in 2011, Chris managed to get the approval of the project from the largest British television corporation ITV, after which the shooting of the series began.

The creators of the series did everything to ensure that almost no one in the film crew knew who would eventually turn out to be the killer. Here, in fact, everything was built on the fact that suspicion fell on different characters, in whose actions all sorts of suspicious things were found, but who it really was and why it happened – this is only told in the finale. And the performer, who ended up being the killer, found out about it just a few days before they started filming the corresponding scenes.

Also, the series was filmed strictly in the order of successive scenes, which is generally very rare: in film and serial production, different parts of a film / series are often shot in random order, which is due to a variety of purely practical considerations. For example, if the beginning and ending of a movie / series take place in the same location, then this beginning and ending can be filmed one after the other.

David Tennant, who plays Alec Hardy, is very good here, and here he has a completely different type than Crowley in Good Omens. Alec’s face seemed to have a thinly concealed disgust for the town in which he is investigating, for the people he suspects, and disgust for himself: Alec is a loser and he knows it well about himself, but he conducts his investigation clearly and methodically , although this, frankly, does not lead to any specific results. But here, purely in the scenario, Hardy’s task is not so much to find the killer, but to shake up the dirty linen of the inhabitants of Broadchurch, who, as expected, are not as simple, open and ingenuous as it looks at first glance.

And Hardy himself is also not so simple. Behind the outer facade of a sullen detective with an eternally squeamish expression on his face, there is a person capable of sympathy and compassion, he just tries not to show it. Also, he does not have a goal to somehow win over people, he does nothing for this. His goal is to conduct an investigation, and whether his partner and other people in the police station like him at the same time, he simply does not care, that’s the kind of person he is.

Olivia Colman also has a very interesting role. A police inspector in a small town where, as a rule, the most serious crime is stealing underpants hung to dry at 1 Oliver Cromwell Street, is such a very special character, and in Colman Ellie Miller, it is more such a homemade whore than detective. The investigation inflicts a monstrous trauma on her, because she knows all these people very well, she is trying to somehow protect them from Alec Hardy, but evidence is evidence – all these people are lying and hiding something.

Ellie’s character is fully revealed in the finale, when she and Alec finally get to the killer, and it’s just played really well. Great role of Olivia, and she and Tennant made a cool acting duet, and a very original duet, because, as it were, the detective who could not stand everyone and the whole detective and the assistant who could not stand the detective himself, as far as I remember, had not yet met.

Of the inhabitants of the town, I note first of all Jodie Whittaker, who played Beth, the mother of the murdered boy. A very bright role, absolutely wonderfully played: Beth is beside herself with grief, and then there are all sorts of problems with her husband Mark, difficulties with her eldest daughter Chloe, besides, Beth is also pregnant. Beth has to go through a series of very difficult emotional experiences, and Jodie did a great job of that.

The most colorful David Bradley also plays here, whom the audience knows well from Game of Thrones (Walter Frey), Harry Potter (Argus Filch) and Doctor Who (Doctor), and I remember him from a very funny British TV series Ideal and the movie “Harry Brown”.

The search for the killer is an important, but not the main goal of the series. It was important for the creators of “Murder on the Beach” to show what is happening in a small town in which such a terrible event took place. How people behave, how journalists behave, who, of course, immediately flocked to Broadchurch like vultures, how biased articles in the media can lead to irreversible consequences – all this is shown honestly, without embellishment, but also without exaggeration. It’s just that people are like that: everyone has their own secrets and their skeletons in their closets, and journalists can slander someone for the sake of hot material – all this is well known, so Broadchurch is by no means an exception to the rule, it’s just a mirror any community.

A well done series, I’m very glad that I finally watched it, and I highly recommend watching it for those who have not yet seen it. Despite the fact that the investigation is somewhat monotonous and there seem to be not so many bright events and unexpected plot twists, it is very interesting to watch the series from the point of view of the psychology of relationships. How Alec interacts with Ellen, how Ellen watches what happens, how the people of the town behave, and what is revealed about them in the end.

As I said, the original plan was to make a mini-series consisting of one completed season. However, the high ratings during the first season led to the fact that ITV immediately ordered the second season, and after the second – also the third. The second season focuses on a boy’s murder trial, and in the third season, Alec and Ellen investigate a new crime committed in Broadchurch. Both the second and third seasons are also praised, I want to watch them.

Murder on the Beach / Broadchurch movie review

Director: Chris Chibnall Cast: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Carolyn Pickles, Arthur Darvill, Charlotte Beaumont, Adam Wilson, Matthew Gravelle, Jonathan Bailey, David Bradley

Series, UK, 2013, 46 min. 3 seasons, 8 episodes per season

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