‘Broadchurch’ Postmortem: Creator Chris Chibnall on Season 3’s Growing List of Suspects

Mandi Bierly

Episode 2 of Broadchurch‘s final season raised more questions as Hardy (David Tennant) and Miller (Olivia Colman) truly began their investigation into the rape of Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh). Why did Trish’s estranged husband, teacher Ian (Charlie Higson), refuse a DNA test and decide to do laundry and scrub mud off his shoes? How shady is the cab driver (Sebastian Armesto) who claims he had a radio problem the night he dropped Trish off at the party where she was attacked? Will young detective Katie Harford (Georgina Campbell) tell Hardy and Miller that Trish’s boss, Ed Burnett (Lenny Henry), is her father? Why did Trish refuse to tell Hardy and Miller who she’d had consensual sex with on the morning of her assault, and who just sent her the threatening text “Shut up. SHUT UP OR ELSE”? Will we get to see more scenes between Miller and Leo Humphries (Chris Mason), the 23-year-old manager of the local rope and twine factory who inspired one of Miller’s best lines in the series?

Of course Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall couldn’t offer answers in our weekly postmortem, but read on for the topics he could safely discuss.

Hour 2 introduces many of the men who will fill out your list of suspects. What’s your process for creating those characters?
Chris Chibnall: You start with the victim of the crime. What I tend to do is think about their life and all the people they will have come into contact with and all the people who will have an impact on their life. Particularly with Trish, a woman who’s in her late 40s, she has a lot of people she’s come into contact with and everybody at that age — they’ve lived a full life. Obviously in Season 1, we did the murder and that family was early 30s. What we’ve done this year is looked much more about these people who are turning 50, and maybe aren’t quite where they would want to be in their lives, and they’ve got all these sort of yearnings and desires and unfulfilled dreams and hopes and terrible damaged pasts. So that felt like each one of these characters has their own secrets and things they would prefer other people not to know. It felt like a really rich group of possible suspects.

And it must be interesting for you, as the writer, to see how Ellie and Hardy react to each of these new characters. Ellie’s comment to Hardy about Leo: “I am never in the mood for swaggery young s**ts.”
[Laughs] Yeah, I mean, who is? I hope that they are always the audience’s voice and not just guiding you through the investigation. I think [Hardy and Miller] are voicing opinions about characters and their behavior and disbelief about what people are doing. Hardy has a line later on in one of the other episodes where he says, “This case is making me ashamed to be a man.” Constantly, these two characters are the voice of the audience, if you’d like to think deeper into this world, and the complexity of the investigation.

It seems purposeful to have Katie, who previously questioned why Trish waited two days to report her assault, be the one to ask “Was she drunk?” this week. It’s not spoiling too much to say that we’ll see Cath (Sarah Parish) make questionable remarks regarding Trish as the season continues. Did you want to make a point that it’s not just men who sometimes have a tough time understanding this situation, whether they’re a cop or just a friend?
I think I’m always interested in the gray areas in Broadchurch, and the gray areas often come in the gender divides and the gender attitudes of different characters. What we talked about a lot with our police advisors is, the generation of women who are coming through as police officers who have to do a lot less training to be qualified to investigate these things and, possibly, are slightly unaware of all the battles that were fought by their predecessors in the name of feminism and in the name of women getting equality. Katie is an example of somebody like that who doesn’t understand how easy she’s got it compared to Ellie. That character is designed for that, as well.

I think Cath is an interesting, complex character brilliantly played by Sarah Parish, who understands that character inside-out. Cath is all about Cath, and when other people are getting attention, no matter why, then Cath isn’t necessarily going to be pleased about that.

This hour also revealed that newspaper editor Maggie Radcliffe (Carolyn Pickles) is facing a loss of control over her frontpage and the impending closing of the Broadchurch office. Why was that an important part of this season’s story for you?
A couple of reasons. I think that the show has always been about the broader community as well as about the individual cases that we’ve followed through the three seasons. It’s reflecting what’s happening in real life. Here in the UK, the local newspapers that were the life-blood of the communities have now been under-resourced, their sales are flagging, and the newspapers that really recorded the life of the town are going missing. A big cornerstone of the community is just disappearing. I wanted to record that and, also, the sense of this is the final season of the show, things are changing, things are closing. How Maggie looks toward the future and how she deals with this change was a really important way to do that.

Broadchurch airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America.

Read more from Yahoo TV:
‘Broadchurch’ Season 3 Review: Going out Sensitive Yet Strong
‘Broadchurch’ Season 3 Premiere Postmortem: Creator Chris Chibnall on the Final Case
‘Broadchurch’ Final Season: David Tennant Previews Hardy and Miller’s Slight Role Reversal

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