Broadchurch: is no spoilers a good thing?

Should any show expect fans to flock to it blind, asks Susanna Lazarus

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If you’re reading this, you’re probably a fan of TV and – as a fan of TV – you know the drill. In the weeks leading up to the launch of a new series, we, the audience, are treated to teasers, trailers, scraps of plot, or – in the case of soap operas – entire synopses. We know what to expect. It’s how we discern; our means of separating the wheat from the chaff. 

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But when it comes to series two of Broadchurch, there’s been near radio silence. Beyond a batch of innocuous publicity shots and an abstract trailer that plays like a music video, we’ve been given nothing to go off. No news on a plot, scant character details and – brace yourselves, critics – no press previews. Nada. Zilch. Diddly squat. 

In the words of Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, “I would love people to know as little as possible about it when it airs on ITV. I want you to follow the story when I’m telling it, not before.“

It’s a valid point, especially coming from within an entertainment industry saturated daily with trailers, teasers for trailers, even teasers for teasers for trailers. There’s already a strong argument against pumping the internet full of the best scenes and one-liners from a movie or TV series before it’s even made it onto screens. But should any show expect fans to flock to it blind? 

With Broadchurch, there is, of course, a guaranteed audience set to tune into ITV tonight. The success of the first series and the hype around its return will make sure of that. But don’t we, the viewers, have a right to know something of what we’re reserving our Monday evenings to watch? 

I think the word “spoiler” has a bad rep, largely thanks to the 140-character reactions that flood Twitter after every major programme. A spoiler can be a brief tease, something to pique our interest, or – in the case of Broadchurch – heighten our excitement. When used the right way, they can enhance an experience, rather than hinder it.

I appreciate these thoughts could be deemed the grumblings of a grumpy journalist, fed up of asking questions of actors forbidden from giving an answer of any vague interest, but this is also my opinion as a fan. I believe there’s a happy balance between spoilers and silence – a thin line but one I wish Broadchurch would tread. 

In the meantime, at least it gives licence for my repeated attempts at speculation and conjecture, as readers of this site are all too well aware. Thank goodness the wait is nearly over.

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Broadchurch series two begins tonight at 9:00pm on ITV