Rewind to last summer and RadioTimes.com found ourselves on the set of Broadchurch (pfft, it’s a hard life) on a reconnaissance mission to uncover as much information as possible about the third and final series. How did we fare? Well, we won’t lie – there were times we got distracted by the blazing sunshine, sweeping beaches and local fish and chips and ice cream – but we did channel Hardy and Miller and gather some crucial behind-the-scenes tidbits and clues as to just what goes on during the filming of one of Britain’s biggest TV dramas.
1. Risky rockfall
Much of Broadchurch series one may have taken place at the top of Dorset’s iconic cliffs but the cast and crew were prevented from reaching such lofty heights this time around thanks to hazardous erosion. According to series producer Dan Winch, they knew from the off that filming on top of the unstable cliffs was a no-go thanks to rockfalls that have – on some occasions – narrowly missed tourists and beach dwellers strolling the beaches below. But the crew had a workaround to make sure the iconic Broadchurch landscape remained in shot. “It’s great because you can shoot from the pier looking back across towards the cliffs and you’ve still got your cliffs in the background but you’re not in any danger. We’ve still managed to root Broadchurch in the distinctive environment it’s been established as.”
2. Breakfast for lunch
As morning became afternoon, our thoughts on set naturally turned to food. But when the Broadchurch cast and crew break for lunch it’s not salads and sandwiches they’re eating. Because the shoots often stretch well into the night, all meals are thrown off kilter, so while you and I might be tucking into lunch, those on set are enjoying a 1pm fry up. Because you wouldn’t want to miss the best meal of the day, now, would you?
3. Hardy not so hidden
DI Alec Hardy’s home may appear to be situated at a tranquil distance to the hustle and bustle of Broadchurch but that’s a mere illusion. In fact, the distinctive blue chalet is located in the heart of West Bay, the filming location that doubles up for fictional Broadchurch, tucked just behind the ice cream stand and three rival fish and chip shops vying for tourists’ attention. That’s some prime real estate.
4. Room with a view
While Hardy’s digs are in the heart of the community, the rental house used for the home of Trish Winterman (played by Julie Hesmondhalgh) is a 15 minute drive from the main village. We imagine the cost to rent it out will sky rocket after Broadchurch has aired but, you know what, it would be well worth it. The house may be modest – dressed up with Trish’s nic-nacs when we saw it – but the garden backs onto a grassy meadow and the view of the coastline is… staggering. And added bonus: you won’t get a scrap of wifi unless you’re hovering in the corner of an upstairs bedroom. Sheer bliss.
5. Script secrecy
Broadchurch loves to keep its viewers – and journalists – guessing. So it should come as no surprise that the drama’s scripts are kept under lock and key with digital versions guarded by passwords and names printed on scripts to catch any culprits who happen to leave theirs lying around on set (we checked, no such luck – sorry). But – according to Winch – producers were thrown into a flap when one of the production team went abroad during filming. “We had someone who went on holiday – one of our heads of department – and their laptop got stolen. We had to shut down, change email addresses for that person – so we take everything really seriously.”
6. “It was like being in Madame Tussaud’s!”
With Lenny Henry, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Parish and Charlie Higson joining the likes of David Tennant and Olivia Colman for series three, West Bay has become a hub of British acting royalty. So just imagine what they must have looked like, all gathered on the pier, for that iconic Broadchurch photoshoot?
“It was like being in Madame Tussaud’s!” Julie Hesmondhalgh told us. “I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?'”
And with so many famous faces in town, it must have been one hell of a wrap party at the Bull Hotel where the cast stayed during the shoot. Well, that is except Hesmondhalgh who spent a large chunk of filming kipping in a caravan parked near the Broadchurch clifftops. When in Dorset, eh?
Much like the first series, the final plot twist – the revelation of who attacked Trish Winterman – was kept secret from everyone on set until the concluding scripts were released. But that didn’t stop them guessing. “Sarah Parish is pretty sleuth-like actually, and David’s good,” revealed Hesmondhalgh.
The only actor in the know was the culprit themselves who was apparently informed of their character’s guilt before they signed onto the drama. Let’s hope they had a good poker face.
8. Broadchurch virgin
Stop the press. We’ve found the one and only person in the UK who didn’t watch the blow-by-blow investigation into Danny Latimer’s demise – and she just so happens to be starring in the third series. “I’ve never seen it,” Sarah Parish told us on set. ” I’m not very good at watching upsetting things.” Although she did add that she planned to binge on it once filming was over. “I know the outcome which will make it easier for me to watch, I think, and also having been in it and knowing everyone now.”
9. Selfie time…
No matter how cool you try to play it, you won’t be able to resist a good photo-op. And yes, the residents of West Bay will probably look on with mild amusement at your Kardashian-style selfie antics on the pier of West Bay.