TV review - Broadchurch, ITV: David Tennant's character seems to have been designed to look good on his fan website

Mayday, BBC1

You wonder whether the television production company Kudos had to set up some kind of Chinese wall operation when it was preparing for its current brief monopoly in the television crime-drama market.

Sunday night saw the start of its show Mayday, a thriller about the effect of a crime on a small, tightly knit provincial town, and last night it gave us Broadchurch, a thriller about the effect of a crime on a small, tightly knit provincial town. You can see that keeping things straight might have been a bit tricky if they were all working out of one office. "Is this your Ominous Stranger Lurking at the Corner of the Shot or ours?" someone would ask. "No, if it's Pauline Quirke with a fag on, it's definitely yours, but I think you may have picked up one of our Guilty-Looking Men by mistake."

There are differences. For one thing, we know pretty much from the start here that the missing child is dead, a young boy found on the beach after one of those heart-stopping crescendos of parental dread, as friends are rung and last sightings checked. For another, where the town in Mayday appears to seethe with suppressed and mutual hatreds, this one initially comes across more like Trumpton. In an early tracking shot, the father of the murdered boy walks down the local high street early in the morning, exchanging cheery banter with absolutely everyone he meets. And where Mayday centres on civilians, Broadchurch has a bristly, odd-couple police partnership at its heart, with David Tennant as a troubled DI promoted over the head of a local woman, played by Olivia Colman.

The similarities between the two are less down to a failure of imagination than an excess of emulation. Because, as quintessentially English as the settings for these two dramas are (bordered by ancient woodland and a south coast beach), they're also both detectably Scandinavian, responding to the example set by The Killing, a drama in which hinterland of a crime was fully explored. Like The Killing, both are interested in how an abduction or a murder discloses the hairline cracks in relationships, and how suspicion seeps into those fissures. Of the two, Broadchurch looks to be the more conventional, particularly as Mayday last night doubled down on its background note of bucolic myth with some suggestive talk about goblins and fairies. And there's definitely a bit more cliché by the seaside, most notably in the writing of Tennant's character as one of those angry shouty coppers with a blot on his record.

But one distinct edge it has over Mayday is its recognition that murder stories have a real-world box-office appeal. So far the media are invisible in Mayday. But in Broadchurch they've already scented the corpse, like bluebottles. One of the characters here is a young local reporter, eager to get a job on a national and quite aware that getting an edge on a front-page story will help, even if it forces him to compromise on local loyalties. As the nephew of Colman's DS, he's able to put two and two together and tweet a speculation about the dead boy's identity before the police are ready to reveal the information. That brings in an equally ambitious reporter from a London tabloid, who reveals her attitude to ethical guidelines by stealing one of the tributes from the beachside shrine to the dead boy.

Another distinct edge is Olivia Colman. David Tennant's character seems to have been designed to look good on his fan website – the stubble and the loosened tie as much badges of style as clues to personal disarray. But Colman, effortlessly convincing in her distress when she recognises the dead boy, is something much rarer on television. Not an obsessive loner like Lund but a woman with a husband and children whose job is part of her life, not all of it. Watch for her, if no other reason.

Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project