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'Broadchurch' Chris Chibnall Q&A: 'I asked to keep series two secret'

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If you want to relive the intense, fascinating and heartbreaking eight hours of television drama that was Broadchurch - or, whisper it, if you missed the show on first transmission - then you'll be pleased to know that the first series is now available to buy on DVD.

Yes, that's 'first series', because - as ITV sneakily revealed on the night the Broadchurch finale went out - there *will* be a second series, details of which are sketchy at this early stage...

Digital Spy spoke to the show's creator Chris Chibnall about the huge response to series one, the killer reveal and 'Slug-gate' - and also tried our best to get the scoop on series two! (Spoiler - we failed.)

Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller and David Tennant as Alec Hardy and  in Broadchurch Episode 6

© ITV

Ellie Miller & Alec Hardy in Broadchurch Episode 6



Broadchurch has become something of a phenomenon - huge ratings, tours of the filming locations…
"The reaction to the show has been completely beyond any of our expectations. I lose my ability to talk about it, because it's very wonderful and very… 'humbling' is the best word I can use, that people responded to the story in such a way. I know it sounds like a really strange word to use, but it was a real surprise, I really didn't expect it, so it does feel genuinely humbling."

Arthur Darvill told us that you wrote the part of Rev. Coates for him. Did you write any other characters with actors in mind?
"Ellie was written for Olivia [Colman] right from the start, but I never thought we'd get her! Funnily enough, Susan was written with Pauline Quirke in mind - I couldn't get her out of my head. I always knew I wanted her - I remembered her in [1996 BBC crime drama] The Sculptress all those years ago and just thought she was a really terrific actor.

"Some were [written with actors in mind] but mostly they weren't, and even when you write parts for actors, you don't normally get them - sometimes it's just helpful as you go."

David Tennant as Alec Hardy and Arthur Darvill as Rev. Paul Coates and  in Broadchurch Episode 6

© ITV

Alec Hardy & Rev. Paul in Broadchurch Episode 6



As a Doctor Who writer, were you aware of the fannish thrill you provided by putting Arthur and David Tennant together on-screen?
"Well, funnily enough, there was a bit of a moment where we thought, 'Can we do that, or does it look a bit too in-jokey?' - but actually you just go, 'They're the best actors'.

"But certainly when they met at the read-through, I saw them approach each other and I thought, 'If I could get my camera-phone out now, it would explode the internet!'

"But it was just a delight, because as a writer and a producer, you think, 'I'd love to see those two actors in a scene together, because they're very interesting, powerful actors' - so that was the thrill of it.

"I also knew that if you put a vicar in a show, you've got to be really careful about avoiding those clichés and I thought Arthur would just bring a modernity and a truth and a freshness to it, which I think he did brilliantly."

Given that you were writing for Olivia, you must have known that she'd blow viewers away with those final 'reveal' scenes…
"Yeah, I knew I was writing for her by that point - when I was writing those scenes, we'd already started shooting, so I really had a sense of her and of the relationship between her and David [Tennant] on-screen, so it was a real joy to write, knowing those people can deliver that in spades."

David Tennant as Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller in Broadchurch Episode 4

© ITV

Alec and Ellie in Broadchurch Episode 4



Did you know the identity of the killer from the outset or did that develop as you wrote?
"Yeah, [I knew]. I wrote a very rough first draft and then I literally woke up one morning with the resolution in my head, which has never happened. It's that thing you see in films where people sit bolt upright and go, 'Oh my God!' - that happened!

"So then I altered the script, but that was before it had gone to ITV or anybody had read it, so from that point on, [the killer's identity] was embedded and it couldn't have been anyone else, because that became what the piece was about."

So you literally had a 'lightbulb moment'?
"Yeah! It doesn't happen often, at all. Normally the lightbulb moments only happen after 16-hour days, lots of cups of tea and a bit of weeping… so yeah, that was nice! But then you have to work it all into place and think about what that means thematically and narratively and how you pay that off."

When the final episode went out, many fans were shocked by the fate of the Broadchurch slug - did you expect that?
"(laughs) Well, the slug is set up in episode two, so when you buy the DVD, you can see! In the very first three minutes of episode two, you can see Ellie looking at this slug on the carpet and it's like her home has been invaded by an intruder - that image was very deliberately placed there very early on to imply that things are wrong in her house."

Series two won't focus on the murder of the slug then?
"I don't think we'll be doing 'Slug-gate' but who knows?"

Broadchurch Episode 2: David Tennant as Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller

© ITV

Alec and Ellie in 'Broadchurch' Episode 2



In terms of series two, was a continuation of Broadchurch pre-planned or was it a response to the huge success of the first run?
"It wasn't a response to the first series. When we had the meeting to green-light the first series, I said to [ITV's Director of Television] Peter Fincham and [ITV's Director of Drama Commissioning] Laura Mackie, 'If it works, we could do this [for series two]' and they smiled politely and said, 'Yes, great… in your dreams!'

"Before the show went out, Peter was very positive and encouraging about it and said if things went well, he would like to do more. So it had been an ongoing conversation really and then when the response came in…. and it was more the response than the ratings, to be honest. It was more that people were enjoying it - that's when we had it confirmed.

"But it's always been planned and ITV have been so brilliant, because I asked to keep it secret, because I think if you'd known [the show was coming back] it would've slightly spoiled the suspense and I wanted people to just be in the moment and enjoy it while it was on."

That big reveal worked brilliantly well...
"It's nice - what you never get to do is tell viewers directly that something they love is going to come back and I just suddenly thought we had an opportunity to do that. ITV were so quick to respond to that, because it meant we had to change our end titles, we had to change our running time slightly… there were lots of little technical things you had to do to make that work.

"Also, we had to not tell people [it was coming back] and that was harder than you might think! So it was great - I'd said, 'Wouldn't it be great to put a card up saying 'Broadchurch will return'…like in James Bond!'

"It was lovely not to have to do it in a little announcement in six months, but to go… 'Here you go, thank you for watching and there will be more!'"

ITV's 'Broadchurch': DAVID TENNANT as D.I Alec Hardy and OLIVIA COLMAN as D.S. Ellie Miller

© ITV

'Broadchurch' David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller



With series two, I know you want to keep your cards close to your chest…
"Yes, I do!"

Can you give any hints about the second series?
"None whatsoever! I don't have to give you anything! (laughs) It'll take us a while to do it, so there's no point talking about it now. When we're ready to tell you a little bit more, we will, but we deliberately kept our secrets with the first one and we'll try and do a little bit of the same with the second."

Surely David and Olivia will be back though?
"I would take nothing for granted, I would just wait and see! We'll tell you when we're ready!"

The first series of Broadchurch is available to buy on DVD from today (Monday, May 20)

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