It’s easy to forget, after that misfiring follow-up, just how good the first series of Broadchurch was. The riddle of who killed 11-year-old Danny Latimer made Chris Chibnall’s Scandi-inspired drama the TV event of 2013. But it was always so much more than a whodunit – it was also a raw, unflinching portrait of grief, and an intelligent study of how a single tragedy can devastate an entire community. It was compelling, but it also strove for realism.
That latter ball was dropped in the gripping but deeply silly second series, but the good news is that, as it embarks on its final voyage, Chibnall’s ship appears firmly back on course.
In this week’s opener, the writer didn’t shrink from showing us the grim aftermath of a sexual assault, both physically – a necessary but clinical, dehumanising process of swabs and petri dishes – or emotionally: Julie Hesmondhalgh was extraordinary as Trish, the traumatised victim who initially found few words but conveyed the full horror of her experience through her eyes.
As detectives Hardy and Miller, David Tennant and Olivia Colman remain reliably brilliant, of course: he’s still grumpy and awkward, she’s still got a heart that’s slightly too big for the job. For me, though, the emotional centre of the show was always Jodie Whitaker as Danny’s mum Beth; three years on, the Latimers remain a fractured, atomised family still numbed by loss, and assigning Beth as Trish’s sexual violence counsellor is a believable, graceful way of knitting the two stories together.
There’s still sweetness and humour in the mix, too. ‘It’s not Trumpton,’ snaps Miller when Hardy asks if she knows the victim. He, meanwhile, is wounded to learn his nickname in the cop shop is ‘s***face’.
Broadchurch is also beautifully made television, the slow, languid pace and hazy West Country sunshine combining with Ólafur Arnalds’s pulsing, hypnotic score to create an atmosphere that’s almost dreamlike in places. The result is something that feels very different to your standard TV police procedural. Something to treasure, while we still can.
History may well record Catastrophe as the definitive sitcom of the 2010s – and Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s ‘romantic’ comedy remains as scabrously funny as ever as it barrels into its third series. Highlights this week included a row about suspected infidelity morphing into one about till receipts, Sharon trying to blame her bad behaviour on Brexit anxiety, and an eye-wateringly honest sexual post-mortem conducted in front of a triage nurse attending their infant son. Sheer class.
Mary Berry Everyday
Ah, what a lovely thought – who wouldn’t want a bit of Mary Berry in their lives every day? In fact, the title refers to Queen Mary’s mission to celebrate everyday food and ingredients from around the British Isles. She started this week in Scotland – which meant cooking venison by a loch with Tom Kitchin in a kilt (Tom, not Mary), and making cream from whisky. In the rain. Did you know it’s also her mother’s homeland? So I guess she’s Mary, Queen of Scots too.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, March 2, 2017
(c) Waitrose Weekend