Olivia Colman does sad better than any actress in the history of film and television. Even when poor Livvy is relatively happy her face still seems to be on the brink of bursting into tears.
Coleman has turned crying into an art form, so who better to take centre stage as crumpled, downtroddon DS Ellie Miller in ITV’s powerful new 7 part drama Broadchurch. There’s clearly a lot of sobbing to be done in this series, and she’s the one to do it.
Danny, an 11 year old boy, has apparently been strangled while on the way to do his paper round, and a small seaside town in Dorset is finding ways of coming to terms with their grief. But it’s obviously far from a straight forward murder inquiry. Even Danny’s young friend seems to be involved in some way, and is quick to erase the contents of his hard drive as soon as he’s told of the crime.
Meanwhile, the first thing the town does is to appoint shabby, jaded copper DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) to investigate the murder. Hardy is perfectly qualified for the task, having just completely buggered up an almost identical case in some nearby town.
Tennant is so much better in this than he was in that bloody awful BBC drama Spies of Warsaw. This time he’s charismatic, totally believable, and there’s not a hint of sonic screwdriver anywhere.
Jodie Whittaker’s grieving young mum is brilliant. So good it’s actually quite hard to watch. As her husband, Andrew Buchan is also very good, always resisting the temptation to overplay the raw emotions needed for a post-watershed thriller with such a dark premise.
Then there’s local hack Olly – a young journalist so keen to escape the stifling confines of the Broadchurch Echo that he’ll walk over anyone to get a story. Even grieving relatives and sobbing policewomen.
This new series proves once again that ITV’s drama department is currently romping ahead of the competition over at crumbling, about-to-be-sold-to-a-property-developer BBC Television Centre. I’m guessing Broadchurch, and it’s excellent cast, are heading towards a bunch of Bafta’s, and they’ll deserve every one.