9 interesting facts we learned from the Broadchurch short stories

The first three instalments give us backstory to the new series of the ITV drama

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Series two of Broadchurch achieves what is surely a TV first: a short story to accompany each episode. Offering further backstory for the residents of the seaside town, they’re written by the author of the show’s spin-off novel, Erin Kelly, in collaboration with creator Chris Chibnall. 

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Here at RadioTimes.com we’ve scoured the first three stories and pulled out nine interesting titbits for you to pore over while you wait for next week’s episode. 

1. Jocelyn was friends with Jack Marshall 

The Latimers’ barrister is Broadchurch born but London bred. She first met Jack when she defended him against a charge of unlawful sex with a minor. As we learned last series, the girl in question was just over a month shy of her 16th birthday and the pair married shortly after his release from prison. But when we met Jack (played by David Bradley), he was a tortured man having split with his wife after they lost their young son in a car crash. Jocelyn had remained friends with the couple and it was she who found him work in Broadchurch as the local newsagent. The third short story sees her visit Jack roughly 12 ago as he settles into Broadchurch, still reeling from the pain of losing his family. 

2. Jocelyn first met Olly, Chloe and Danny when they were kids

Jocelyn’s visit to Jack sees her encounter some bright-eyed youngsters on the streets of Broadchurch: young Olly as a mischievous member of the sea brigade, four-year-old Chloe chased by “barely out of his teens” Mark, and baby Danny, just a few days old with “that flaky, scrunched-up look of the newborn”.

3. Beth and Ellie first met in antenatal classes

When we’re first introduced to the Broadchurch community, Beth and Ellie are firm friends as well as neighbours, Sunday-lunching at one another’s houses and with sons who are also best friends. That all changed when Danny was murdered and Ellie’s husband Joe was identified as the culprit – but the short stories reveal the origin of the two families’ friendship. “We’ve just come from Ellie and Joe’s,” Beth tells Jocelyn when she presents her young family at Jack’s newsagents. “That’s my friend from ante-natal classes. I gave her the baby to hold – they reckon holding a newborn can bring on labour. She’s ten days overdue.”

4. Ellie won’t return to CID until Joe’s been sentenced

The first short story to be released focused on Ellie and her new life patrolling the clifftops of Devon. She was first glimpsed during episode one, laying down the law for the south coast’s traffic offenders but we never discovered how she got there. Going back into uniform was Ellie’s choice – she calls it “a move sideways, not downwards” – but she says “it doesn’t feel right to go back into CID until Joe’s been sentenced.” The moment he pleads guilty will be when she’ll be able to put Danny behind her – “she is hanging onto her career by her fingernails,” writes Erin Kelly, “marking time until his plea hearing next week.” Well, we all know how that turned out… 

5. Tom blames Ellie for his dad being behind bars

He’s spent plenty of afternoons with Mark Latimer, but Tom Miller has no time for his mum Ellie nowadays. As viewers, we’re aware of a rift between them but the short stories go into more detail. “He thinks she’s lying, he thinks she set Joe up,” Kelly writes. “There’s only one person who can persuade Tom she’s not lying, and that’s Joe, when he stands in the dock and pleads guilty. This cruel-and-kind blow is the only thing that will shake Tom out of his denial.” Oh dear, poor Ellie…

6. Ellie’s actually “yearning” for Alec Hardy

We all knew these two missed the daily grind of cracking cases side by side, but now we’ve got it in writing. Paired with her new partner – whom she’s nicknamed Mr Potato Head – after ten minutes, Ellie “finds herself yearning for Alec Hardy’s brooding and sulks.” Yeah, you read that right. Yearning. 

7. Karen White is working in Dubai

Story two focuses on Maggie Radcliffe and the cramped space she shares with Olly Stevens and his mum Lucy (their new office manager). Their move leaves Maggie on the brink of tendering her resignation – she doesn’t – but there’s certainly no space for the likes of Daily Herald reporter Karen White in their new digs. You may be wondering what happened to Karen. We expected to see her gunning for blood during the trial but instead she’s sunning herself in Dubai, according to an email she sends to Olly. “Day after the Herald made her redundant, right, she walked into a job as head of content for one of the big newswires out in the Gulf,” he tells Maggie. “Sixty grand a year, tax-free.” No wonder she’s turned her back on Broadchurch. 

8. Introducing Jan Barnsley…

Short story number two also introduces a new character: the area’s right-wing councillor Jan Barnsley who, in the words of Maggie, “has built her career pandering to the prejudices of a vocal handful of elderly voters.” The editor of the Broadchurch Echo is no fan, but a bit of “grunt work” digging around for a story and Maggie comes up with plenty of dirt on the prominent local figure. But is she still ruthless enough to hang her out to dry…?

9. Was Jocelyn’s vision on the blink twelve years ago?

One of our many Broadchurch series two theories looks at whether Jocelyn is going blind. The evidence? Listening to audiobooks, requesting audio summaries, asking Maggie to read to her. And the third short story drops yet another hint as Jocelyn watches the young Latimer family walk towards the beach. “There’s a twitch in the corner of her right eye; her vision is not what it used to be,” we read. Could this be the beginning of the partial blindness that led her to quit her profession? 

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The Broadchurch short stories by Chris Chibnall and Erin Kelly are available from all eBook outlets and are priced 99p