Broadchurch series two finds its stride thanks to David Tennant and Olivia Colman

After a faulty start, the ITV drama seems to be getting better and better, largely thanks to focusing on strengths like the Latimers and, of course, Hardy and Miller

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After last week’s improved episode, Broadchurch continued its good form with a gripping instalment which teased, tantalised and thrilled.

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It’s a shame that so many viewers have deserted the drama in recent weeks because this was (at last) classic Broadchurch – from the moment of Olivia Colman’s brilliant opening scene where she tried to patch things up with her son to the thrilling find in the Thorps Agriservices warehouse.

Once again the court scenes dragged things down a bit as Susan’s false testimony was picked apart with ease by Charlotte Rampling’s Jocelyn (as we predicted last week). But there was an excellent exchange outside court between Jocelyn and her opposite number Sharon (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) where we finally got a proper insight into why there is so much bad blood between them: Jocelyn would not defend her former junior Sharon’s son Jonas who is now languishing behind bars.

This was one of many well-plotted moments, with lie upon lie adding to the intrigue. Claire, Lee, Ricky Gillespie – their noses were all getting longer. Even Jocelyn neglected to tell her junior about her failing eyesight – not a lie, but not exactly honest.

A key scene in what could be the woodland bedecked with bluebells is important (although we don’t actually see the violet flowers, it looks to me like the same locale as the bluebell wood we have seen before). Whether or not it’s the birthplace of the mysterious bluebell in Claire’s possession, it puts both Lee and Ricky at the scene of where the girls (one dead, one missing) were playing in another haunting flashback moment. There is clearly more to this than meets the eye.

Writer Chris Chibnall also saved his set-piece moment of high-octane aggression for the right moment when Ricky gave Lee a good kicking. James D’Arcy has put in a good shift in this drama as the Sandbrook suspect, managing to tease audiences with the complexities of a character who seems to be liar, philanderer and stalker. But murderer? It will be riveting to find out.

Another strength of Broadchurch is Beth and Mark Latimer and this week brought us more scenes involving Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whittaker, with Beth failing at the last minute to help Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) in his work with sex offenders. Her recollection of Danny’s face as she walked into the church – and subsequent sprint in the opposite direction – was touching, compelling and plausible.

But, of course, everything led up to the moment Ellie and Alec delved inside the Portsmouth-based Thorps plant like a West Country Mulder and Scully, uncovering the furnace that suggests Lisa may have met a grizzly end.

Miller and Hardy’s relationship was the spine of Broadhchurch’s first series and the drama always sings when they are together on screen. Now both have been deserted in differing ways by their families, they’re platonic plods with no one else to turn to. They even took to strolling along the beach with Alec pushing toddler Fred in a pram.

Ellie, who cannot sleep and says she has nothing left in her life, has at least discovered a purpose in trying to get to the bottom of the Sandbrook case – and, like her, Broadchurch seems to have found its own compass at last. 

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Broadchurch continues on ITV on Monday nights