Thankfully, the opening episode more than matched the hype, managing to create a gripping whodunnit balanced alongside an emotionally powerful tale of parental grief. There are still eight episodes to go and a crime drama can be made or broken by its resolutions, but in my opinion this first hour was ITV's best piece of drama since 2011's Appropriate Adult. I'm utterly hooked.
Every week, I'll be collecting up the clues and examining the latest twists from the seaside town of Broadchurch to discover the culprit behind the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer. In last night's opening instalment, Danny was found on the beach and his death is now being investigated by DI Alec Hardy (Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Colman).
Danny was strangled, but his death was made to look like a fall or a suicide jump from the beach clifftops. Early pathologist reports suggest that the killer had large hands (so probably a man) and they were facing Danny (so they probably knew him).
His parents last saw him the evening before he died, when his mum Beth (Jodie Whittaker) checked in on him in his room. His dad was out "on a job" and arrived home at 3pm, but didn't check on his son.
Danny didn't arrive at his paper-round in the morning or at his school for sports day. However, there is CCTV footage of him on his skateboard late on the night he went missing and his mobile phone is yet to be found.
Clues and suspects
- Episode one and everyone is currently a suspect, even though we've hardly met them yet. Pauline Quirke looking shifty in a caravan. Arthur Darvill as a cheery vicar. Will Mellor as an engineer. David Bradley as the grumpy newsagent and Danny's employer. They've all got secrets that need unravelling across the eight episodes.
- Danny's best mate happens to be DS Ellie Miller's son Tom. After a teary chat with his mum, Tom quickly erased a series of texts from his phone and data from his computer relating to his dead friend. Do they hold the key to his friend's death? Or perhaps they just relate to childish hijinks that might get Tom in a bit of trouble?
- It's far too early to play any guessing games, but at the moment Mark Latimer, Danny's dad, is prime suspect number one. His more unusual response to the news of Danny's death may turn out to be his own personal way of dealing with the grief, but he can't be ruled out at this stage. He was "out on a job" (nudge nudge, wink wink) the night that Danny went missing, he didn't check in on his son as normal when he came home and his image as respectable man of the community looks likely to be shredded across the series.
- DI Hardy's backstory and the much talked-about "Sandbrook case" lurked rather sinisterly in the background of the episode. Daily Herald journo Karen White (Vicky McClure) looks like she might try stitch him up (did she nab Danny's teddy bear to frame the detective) and his shady history is clearly going to overlap and cause problems in the new case. At present I'm still leaning towards Hardy being the hero of the piece, but maybe that's misguided loyalty to the lovely Mr Tennant.
- The identity of the child murdered was leaked to the world's press via a tweet - how modern. Wannabe hack Oliver Stevens (Jonathan Bailey) hasn't done himself any favours with the police or his boss with his 'journalism' and he looks likely to get entangled in the Daily Herald's witch-hunt for DI Hardy.
- Danny's sulky sister (Charlotte Beaumont) has been having a secret affair with an older boy and she's not even 16 yet, the little scamp. At the moment this looks like a neat side story, but it's definitely noteworthy. I suspect Danny's grandmother (Susan Brown) will have a larger role in future episodes as well.
- The clocks at the Latimer house had all stopped the morning that Danny went missing. Was it a genuine power cut and a red herring? Or a clue to something more sinister?
- Did Doctor Who fans get a thrill from scenes between Tennant and David Bradley? Bradley will of course play the original Doctor William Hartnell in the upcoming BBC biopic An Adventure in Space and Time. God knows what will happen when Arthur Darvill and Tennant collide on screen. There'll be some nerdgasm meltdown across the UK.
- JACK MEADOWS FROM THE BILL! Out of all the star turns in the first episode it was this cameo from Simon Rouse that thrilled me the most, playing the role of Daily Herald editor. Any chance of a Burnside or Tony Stamp cameo later in the series?
- I presume the cleaning fluid found on Danny's body was to do with the cover-up and attempt to make it look like a fall, rather than a clue to the identity of the killer?
- A lot of people were complaining on Twitter last night that they couldn't wait another week for episode two. Am I the only person who thinks this show is actually perfect to be teased out over two months? A whodunnit is the perfect TV show to chat about in the pub or at work. Why waste it by gorging on it in a couple or hours or days?
- And those West Country accents. Ahem. I didn't say the show was perfect.
What did you think of Broadchurch? Did we miss any vital clues? Share your thoughts below