In 2013 there was one television drama that everyone was talking about, and that was of course ITV's Broadchurch.
So much so that every British TV drama since has been compared to it, with series like BBC One's The Missing being dubbed "The new Broadchurch."
From the very first episode (4th March 2013) right through to the final episode on what was named 'Broadchurch Monday' (22nd April 2013), viewers were gripped by a story of the disappearance of Danny Latimer, an 11 year-old boy who we soon find out was murdered. The series starred the amazing Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller and an equally brilliant David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy, as the hunt was on for the child's killer which turned out to be Ellie's husband, Joe.
Tonight, Broadchurch returned and without any press receiving preview copies or plot details, one of the best kept secrets in telly was finally revealed. Here's what happened, and what I made of series two...
There's absolutely no denying that Broadchurch is TV drama at its very best, and the first series started with a very impressive 9 million viewers and grew to 10.5 million for the finale. Not to mention the amount of social media buzz throughout the series and leading up to the finale with almost half a million tweets sent during its run.
I can't begin to imagine the pressure Chris Chibnall must have felt writing the second series as the first series was received so well and of course cleaned up at the 2014 BAFTA's winning; Best Drama Series, Leading Actress for Olivia Colman, Best Supporting Actor for David Bradley and the Radio Times Audience award.
I must admit that when a second series of Broadchurch was commissioned I was worried that it wouldn't live up to the high standard and high drama of the first series. Not only that, but the series was so case specific that I couldn't see where the story could go next, nor I did I want to see anymore. However my excitement grew again when ITV released the series two trailer which gave away very little away but was beautifully shot.
But I did manage to glean one thing from the trailer, and that was that the second series would focus, or at least touch on DI Alec Hardy's previous case at Sandbrook. The case was touched upon in the first series but never explored, but in the trailer for series two we catch a glimpse at a girl wearing a pendant, a key bit of evidence missed by DI Hardy. We also see DS Ellie Miller, Olivia Colman's character wanting to know what happened "...the night those girls went missing."
So that's what I thought the series would touch on, but now having finally seen the first episode here's what happened, what I thought about it and where I think the series will go...
The episode begins with Joe Miller's hearing. It opens with DI Alec Hardy receiving a call from Olly Stevens, the journalist from the Broadchurch Echo wanting to interview him about the hearing which is when we learn that DI Hardy has not seen DS Ellie Miller since the revelations that her husband killed Danny.
Now working in Devon, DS Ellie Miller decides to attend her husband Joe's hearing. Also present at the hearing is Beth Latimer, Danny's mother who arrives to court along with her husband Mark and daughter Chloe. Much to everyone's shock, including his own council, Joe Miller pleads not guilty.
Beth who revealed she was pregnant in series one is now close to giving birth, the first time we see her she's preparing her birthing pool, and in a very poignant scene with her daughter Chloe, she assures her that "It won't replace Danny", to which Chloe replies "I know".
So for the first half of the episode, the focus was very much still on Danny's case, and served as a perfect continuation of series one, albeit a few months on. The episode focussed on the effects Joe killing Danny has had on the people of Broadchurch, not least his wife DS Ellie Miller who is disgusted when she sees him in court, and even more disgusted when she hears him plead not guilty.
The second half of the episode sees another brilliant Olivia Colman performance as we see Ellie talk about how she's learnt to bury it, and how she was hoping that he would plead guilty so that he would be sent down and she could return to Broadchurch. We also learn that her eldest son, Tom, no longer lives with Ellie, but she was hoping that if Joe was sent down in time he'd come back to live with her.
We first met Claire, who is played by Eve Myles in the first half of the episode, but it isn't in the second half that we begin to understand who she is. Alec decides to introduce Claire to Ellie after admitting that he needs her help, and when she asks him who Claire is, he reveals that she's on witness protection and that she has something to do with "My last case before I came to Broadchurch... Sandbrook." And there we have it, just as I had gleaned from the trailer, we are about to find out more about the case that Alec so famously failed on.
When we returned from the break for the final break we finally learnt what the Sandbrook case was, as Alec Hardy tells Ellie Miller...
"There were two girls, cousins. Lisa Newbury, 19 was babysitting for her 12-year-old cousin Pippa. Her parents went away for the night at a friend's wedding. They came back the next day and both the girls were gone. The 12-year-old, Pippa, her body was found three days later, but 19-year-old Lisa, officially, she's still missing. Our main suspect was a man named Lee Ashworth, but he had a solid alibi..."
Which is where Claire comes into it. Claire said that she was with him all night, despite it being untrue. She was told by Alec that if she told the truth he would be convicted, a risk too big for her to take as Lee is her husband. She's been living in Broadchurch for seven months, and is the reason why Alec came to Broadchurch, so that he could keep her safe. Ellie's response was simply "You wanker!" ...brilliant! Somehow as she's about to leave, Alec convinces Ellie to stay and help him, telling her that he can finally solve the Sandbrook case.
We then see Mark Latimer with Tom, Ellie's son, in what used to be Susan Wright's caravan, the character played by Pauline Quirke, playing Fifa. There was something about this scene that didn't sit right with me. It was creepy, Mark looked different and there were certain similarities between the way he was with Tom to the way Joe was with Danny.
Joe's legal team have requested a new autopsy on Danny's body, meaning an excavation. DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller arrive with Beth, Mark and Chloe not far behind, just in time to see his body being lifted out of his grave.
In true Broadchurch fashion, the first episode ended on a cliffhanger with Lee Ashworth, played by James D'Arcy, the prime suspect in the Sandbrook case spotted by Alec in Broadchurch and when asked by Ellie how he's so sure that Lee killed those girls, we're taken back to the time of the Sandbrook revealing a rather guilty looking Lee.
I can't wait to find out more about Lee next week, and I have a feeling a lot of this series will focus around him with Alec trying to finally get closure on the Sandbrook case.
WOW. What an hour of brilliant television drama that was. I take everything back I said earlier about not being sure a second series would work. It absolutely did, and hats off to Chris Chibnall for recruiting the same magic from series one into the first episode of series two.
Will the rest of the series prove just as successful? Well if the rest of the series maintains the high standard set by the first episode, then I don't see any reason why it won't.