9:00am Saturday 28th December 2013
By Catherine Bolado
One thing you should know about Broadchurch creator and writer Chris Chibnall – he is very funny.
Not perhaps something you would immediately expect from the man that brought us the dark, edge-of-your-seats nail-biter that was Broadchurch.
From start to finish, it was a masterclass in red herrings, smoke-and-mirrors storytelling centring around the murder of a young boy and the hunt for his killer in the fictitious seaside town of Broadchurch.
It was largely filmed in West Bay and never has a nation so collectively sat round scratching its head going- “I just don’t know whodunnit”.
More than eight million people tuned in for the last episode – making it one of the most successful British crime dramas in recent years.
Witty, engaging, humble and with an infectious enthusiasm about his work, when we meet, Chris has just opened a college library and spent hours chatting to young fans.
They have been grilling him on everything from Broadchurch to the work he has done on sci-fi favourite Dr Who and its spin-off series Torchwood.
Two things become very evident listening to their conversations: one, he is passionate about his characters and knows the ins and outs of their stories and two, he is hugely enthusiastic about encouraging the next generation of writers.
We settle down for a chat and it seems only right to ask him about inspirations – turns out he is a big fan of Crime and Punishment, the Stieg Larsson Millennium trilogy and Ian McEwen.
When asked about his favourite characters he said: “I really love writing for the Doctor, he’s just endless and can take you by surprise. There’s so many things you can do with him.”
But it wasn’t long until the conversation turned to Broadchurch, with Chris admitting that he loved writing Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller.
Although he remained tight-lipped on the second series of Broadchurch, he said he was glad to hear that people felt there was ‘unfinished business’ with the characters and wanted to know more about them.
He said: “Whatever we end up doing, there’s going to be a new journey for the audience to come on. I hope it will be as surprising and emotional and thrilling as the first story we told.”
He added: “It’s going to be a very different story.”
When pushed on the subject, he joked that he would ‘probably have to kill’ anyone he told about Broadchurch 2, but added the reason for not giving anything away was so that it didn’t feel like old news when it arrived.
But he promised the team had a plan to make it even bigger and better in the next series. He said: “We will try and make something worth the wait.”
Currently Chris is busy writing episodes for the US version of Broadchurch. He said the success of it had been amazing and very humbling: “I’m absolutely gobsmacked and I remain it.”
He said that just when he thought he couldn’t be more surprised US senator John McCain had tweeted how excited he was to watch the last episode.
He said: “It’s constantly humbling. I thought people would watch it if we were lucky and we’d go back to the day job. It’s still got a life. It’s just bewildering, fascinating and wonderful.”
And it turns out that life hasn’t changed all that much since Broadchurch exploded onto our TV screens.
Chris joked: “My kids still don’t go to bed when they are told and it’s still a job to get them to eat vegetables.”
He added: “It’s been a privilege to have a reaction to a story you have written. I feel very lucky and incredibly grateful.”
A Bridport resident, he said his favourite thing about Dorset was the incredible scenery and his favourite drive was the coast road between Bridport and Weymouth with the view from the top of Abbotsbury hill being a particular highlight.
“He said: “I love the sea, I love the landscape and I love the people. They are smart and friendly and funny and generous. I just love it here. I wasn’t born here but it’s the place I have felt more at home than any time in my life.”
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