Thursday, 16 March 2017
Broadchurch - this time it's personal
Broadchurch fever is gripping the nation. Well, at least it seems like that around these parts.
I'm sorry not to have written about anything else for The World from my Window over the last few weeks, but it's taking over my life.
As part of my day job at Bridport Electric Palace, I've been involved in persuading series writer Chris Chibnall - soon to be chief writer for Doctor Who - to come along for a question and answer session following the live screening of the last-ever episode on Easter Monday, 17 April.
The event sold out within days and everyone is very excited. It's a charity screening in aid of Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre and The Dorset Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Both organisations were consulted extensively throughout Chris’s writing process and on in to production. You can read more about that here.
In the Grigg household, we're hooked on Broadchurch. I almost choked on my secret chocolate stash at the scene in the second episode where local newspaper editor Maggie takes issue when an important front page story about homes being built in the town is replaced by a large picture of abandoned (and cute) kittens.
She was told in no uncertain terms by the upstart responsible to get with modern times. The newspaper office was going to close and Maggie would have to 'hot desk' at head office. Had I stayed as editor of my local paper, The Bridport and Lyme Regis News, that's exactly what would have happened to me. I left thirteen years ago but, even then, I could see the writing was on the wall.
Bridport no longer has its own newspaper office but a weekly surgery at the Friend's Meeting House. Staff operate from 'head office'.
The priest also complained about having an empty church. I do wonder if the finale will see the police station closed and Miller and Hardy walking off into the sunset along the beach. Not many places the size of West Bay have a full-time police station in a spanking-new building close to the seafront.
However, I digress.
The Broadchurch storyline is gloriously convoluted, with as many layers as East Cliff at West Bay (aka Harbour Cliff), and almost as many red herrings in it as herring gulls.
I'm grateful to Viv Groskop, who writes a regular Guardian column recapping each episode. If I was writing for The Guardian (which I'm not, currently, but all offers will be considered carefully), this is exactly the style I would adopt when talking about Broadchurch. To misquote the narrator at the beginning of that great American parody, Soap: 'Confused? you will be.'
Locally, we're particularly gripped by the backdrop, because this land is ours and we know it so well. It's not shot through a rose-tinted camera lens. West Dorset really is like this. Beautiful. Stunning. Wonderful.
As in Broadchurch, bad things happen here, too. Not often, it's true, but we have had our fair share of headlines and more than enough nasty things going on behind closed doors.
But back to the landscape. As well as the usual shots of West Bay, where our boat is moored during the summer season, we've been treated to views of the coast road near Burton Bradstock, which is one of the finest seaside routes in the world. Forget South Africa's Garden Route, California's Big Sur and Australia's Great Ocean Road, the stretch between Bridport and Weymouth is magnificent in both directions. There's the sweep of the Chesil Beach to Portland to the east and Golden Cap (the highest point on the south coast) and beyond to the west, with a twinkling sea in between.
The Broadchurch locations dip down off the coast road to the house of central character Trish at West Bexington, where you might gaze out to sea but should never swim, and then, closer to Bridport, our local farm shop, Washingpool, where fellow Open University graduate Lenny Henry could do with a lesson in spelling.
We've also seen the A35 at Askerswell, the point between Dorchester and Bridport where as a local, when you're heading for home, you really feel like you've arrived. The hills and countryside rise up to meet you, shake you by the hand and wrap themselves around the car steering wheel, guiding you in.
This security blanket landscape extends to the tiny village of Littlebredy, where I once had a very enjoyable birthday picnic followed by a game of rounders next to the lake in the grounds of Bridehead house. This is the home of the High Sheriff of Dorset, Sir Philip Williams, who allows the public to wander around part of the grounds free of charge but keeps access to the house private.
In Broadchurch, this is the stately home called Axehampton House and is the location for a party at which Trish was raped next to a waterfall.
Rather splendidly, Sir Philip and Lady Williams have decided to cash in on the Broadchurch effect, not for themselves but for the benefit of two good causes. Instead of moaning about the house's role in the harrowing storyline, they've decided to open up the mansion over the weekend after the series comes to an end and raise money for the Dorset Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the village church in the process.
We'll be sad when the series is over but it's been good while it lasted. And it won't be long before something else is filmed in our neck of the woods. Benedict Cumberbatch in Rogue Male, for instance.
That's about it.
Love Maddie x
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