Posts Tagged ‘Broadchurch’

This week has been about recognition of strong women – Thursday was International Women’s Day and today is Mothering Sunday in the UK.

Make no mistake, motherhood is definitely not for sissies; especially for those women who are raising the children (and sometimes, grandchildren) all on their own due to divorce or widowhood. Their grit, persistence and fierce love is inspiring.

Here are just a few examples of tough telly mums:

Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes) – The Durrells in Corfu

A widow and mother of four, Louisa takes a leap of faith to start a new life for her family in Greece. It’s a daily struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, never mind maintaining the animal sanctuary her youngest child has established.

Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) – Happy Valley

A 47 year old police officer, Catherine is divorced, lives with her sister who’s a recovering heroin addict, has two grown up children; one dead and one who doesn’t speak to her, and a grandson.

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Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) – Peaky Blinders

When she became a widow, Polly had her children removed from her care. She’s recently been reunited with her son Michael who made the choice, contrary to his mother’s wishes, to join of her crime syndicate family.

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DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman)- Broadchurch

Ellie is divorced and a working mother of two. First she had to come to grips with the fact that her husband was a murderer. Then her teenage son starts peddling porn. This mum is not a happy camper.

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Violet Crawley, The Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) – Downton Abbey

The no-nonsense matriarch of an aristocratic family, the Dowager’s main concern is keeping her family’s reputation and fortunes intact. She expresses her love in blunt, but constructive terms.

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Last time I talked about My Mad Fat Diary and how I found it refreshing and honest. Today I plan to tackle the remaining nominees in the Best Drama Series category: Top of the Lake, The Village, and Broadchurch. Why bunch them together in one post? For one thing, time is running short; the winners will be announced a week from today. And well… of the remaining nominees, I don’t have a huge amount to say about any one show.

Let’s begin with Top of the Lake, a mystery about a missing 12 year old pregnant girl, her dysfunctional family and a emotionally wounded police officer who won’t give up on finding the victim and uncovering her secret.


I learned very little about Britain from watching this series except one thing I already knew – Scotsman Peter Mullen is an outstanding actor who’s very good at being intimidating and a bit mad. As far as I know he’s the only British actor in a series which takes place in New Zealand and stars an American, Elizabeth Moss, playing a Kiwi.  Breathtaking locations, complex characters and a compelling story make it worth watching, but it’s not British telly no matter who finances it.

The Village is nominated for three awards – Best Drama Series, Best Supporting Actor (Nico Mirallegro) and Best Actress (Maxine Peake). It is a gritty story of a Derbyshire village at the beginning of WWI told through the eyes of young Bert Middleton (Bill Jones).


I have to admit I was only able to watch the first two episodes (that’s all I could find on YouTube) though at some point I think it should make its way to Netflix or some other streaming service.

What I learned about the UK in this time period was that life for the poor in the early 20th century was tough – war, back breaking physical work, and little semblance of respect from the upper classes. Also no surprise, alcoholism and mental illness were treated as personal weaknesses that drove those who suffered to very desperate actions.

I was interested to discover that the villagers used a public bath house for their hygiene needs, or at least the ladies did. Much like the modern day beauty parlor, it was apparently a place to share the news and the gossip too.

No doubt The Village is well-acted, but it was a bit of a chore to watch since the Middleton family faced so many hardships, and had so little hope. If a mother believed that sending her oldest child off to war was his best chance for a better life, you can only imagine the depressing state of their family situation. Perhaps if I’d been able to see more of the story I would have found something to feel uplifted about, but I can only speak to what I saw.

And finally we look at Broadchurch, a social media phenomenon so massive it spawned an American remake set to air sometime next fall. (We’ll talk about THAT situation later.) It’s a traditional police investigation/murder mystery with the urgency of a child victim.  In a town where everyone has a secret, it was a roller coaster ride of wrong turns, red herrings and a big shocking twist at the end.

Broadchurch is nominated in four categories: Best Drama, Best Actress (Olivia Colman), Best Supporting Actor (David Bradley) and sort of a people’s choice honor, the Radio Times Audience Award.


What did I learn about Britain? That UK writers (in this case, Chris Chibnall) are still the masters of the mystery genre. The English are a secretive bunch who don’t like to reveal anything to Scottish police officers. And that British beaches are not always rocky and gray…

Beach in West Bay Dorset

Beach in West Bay,  Dorset


I don’t know the way BAFTA voters tend to think. Will they choose the big ratings winner, Broadchurch? The highly acclaimed New Zealand series by the artsy,eccentric Jane Campion, Top of the Lake? The bleak, WWI social commentary, The Village?  Or my favorite, the teenage dramedy with a mental illness edge, My Mad Fat Diary? We’ll find out soon enough, and if my dark horse wins, you know I’ll be back here gently reminding you of my pick. I certainly won’t be doing a victory dance or rubbing it in anyone’s face…because that’s not the British way.

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Sometimes I wonder if the UK Tourist Board and the television industry are just one big conglomerate.  The photo below shows a location used in the most recent British drama sensation, Broadchurch.

West Bay Beach image credit travel.aol.co.uk


One look at the blue skies, towering cliffs and crystal waters of the Dorset coast and I knew this was a place I wanted to add to my UK itinerary…you know, that open-ended trek that I’ll be taking one of these days in the undetermined future?

The problem is I think most everyone who has seen Broadchurch probably feels the same way and is flocking to the West Dorset area in droves and as we speak.

It’s happened in other scenic villages of course.  Just down the road from Dorset in the Cornwall area, Doc Martin‘s Port Wenn aka Port Isaac has attracted visitors from around the globe.

There’s also a company called Avocatours that caters to fans of Ballykissangel – Avoca being the real name of the Irish town where the show was filmed.  Here are some of their customers lounging outside of Assumpta’s public house.

image credit Avocatours

image credit Avocatours

Fingers crossed West Bay, Bridport , Clevedon and all the Dorset environs will remain breathtaking, charming and relatively crowd-free.  I don’t want my expectations spoiled by tourists when I finally do get there. It’s hard to be optimistic, however, when you see signs like this already…

Found on the Bridport & West Bay Facebook page

Found on the Bridport & West Bay Facebook page

Have you ever been to a filming location turned tourist mecca?  If so, were you pleased or disappointed with the experience?

P.S. If you were expecting a post about the characters, story lines or performances found in the very excellent murder mystery Broadchurch, check in at Smitten by Britain in a few days.  I’ll be covering the actual show over there.  And remember BBC America begins broadcasting the series tonight at 10 pm.

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