Previously on Broadchurch. A nation watches with rapt attention a murder mystery set in a sleepy Dorset town. The series is acclaimed as a masterpiece of British television, as good as anything the Scandis could dream up. It wins a slew of awards (including a hat-trick of Baftas) and tourists flock to the newly-glamorised Dorset seaside.
We then join the action in the second series. Viewers are abandoning the series in their millions in the wake of much criticism about the programme's inconsistencies, factual errors and lack of realism. The cast is largely the same, the picturesque, haunting scenery is as captivating as ever, but, within a Hollywood minute, a soaring example of home-grown drama has become a turkey.
Since when did a fictional drama series have to be a documentary? Sure, there are factual mistakes in this series - the courtroom drama which is the backdrop to the action has played fast and loose with legal process - and there are times when the programme demands quite a serious suspension of disbelief, like when one of the central characters, having that day given birth at home, turns up at court carrying what seems to be a six-month old child.
I am fully aware that it is a feature of the British media, and indeed the British psyche, to turn on that which they previously loved, but I find the relish with which Broadchurch, once venerated, is now excoriated rather baffling. It is still one of the most beautifully shot, most powerfully acted domestic dramas for many years. David Tennant and Olivia Colman portray multi-layered characters with outstanding skill and, yes, realism, while the photography is breathtaking - this week, there was a long shot of people on a hillside that was a superb realisation of what Thomas Hardy meant when he described a figure in the Wessex countryside looking like "a fly on a billiard table".
Anne Kirkbride: Life in pictures
Anne Kirkbride: Life in pictures
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Anne Kirkbride pictured on 1 December 1993
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Actress Anne Kirkbride, played Deirdre Barlow in Coronation Street
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Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride as she unveiled the new wax figure of her on screen character Deirdre Barlow at Madame Tussauds in Blackpool on 25 July 2011
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Anne Kirkbride with a portrait of a young Deirdre Barlow at The Richard Goodall Gallery, Manchester, on 2 December 2010
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Coronation Street actors William Roache, who played Ken Barlow with Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow, on 25 February 2010
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Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall (2L) meets actors Anne Kirkbride, who plays the role of Deirdre Barlow (C) and Ryan Thomas, who plays the role of Jason Grimshaw (R) during a tour to the Rovers Return Pub on the set of British television soap opera 'Coronation Street' on 4 February 2010 in Manchester
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From left - right front, Anne kirkbride, Doris Speed and Bill Roache, and left - right back, Ken Farrington and Alan Rothwell on the set of Coronation Street
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Coronation Street actors William Roache, left, who played Ken Barlow and Johnny Briggs, right, who played Mike Baldwin with Anne Kirkbride, centre, on 23 May 1983
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Jones as Blanche Hunt, left, with Anne Kirkbride as her daughter Deirdre, in a 1974 episode of 'Coronation Street'
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Anne Kirkbride on the set of 'Coronation Street' in 1973
It all seems pretty realistic to me - the first series of Broadchurch was criticised for its lack of ethnic diversity, but those who know this part of the English countryside will confirm that the human landscape is irredeemably Anglo-Saxon. In any case, I think we are slightly losing the plot, if you like, when it comes to confusing art with real life. For instance, I found it rather hard to make out yesterday whether people were talking about Deirdre Barlow, the character from Coronation Street, or Anne Kirkbride, the actor who played her and who died at the age of 60.
Clearly, when someone who has been playing the same character for more than 40 years, we can be excused for confusing the two, but in some of the encomia of Anne Kirkbride, it appeared that the qualities of Deirdre, her strength of character, her fortitude in adversity, her human weaknesses and her sharp humour, were morphed to be indistinguishable from those of Ms Kirkbride.
It was only reading the obituaries when the real Anne Kirkbride emerged: the gravelly voice that was the result of a lifetime chain-smoking, the compulsion to clean and scrub (even the lavatories at the Granada studios), the diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of 39 and the long battle with depression. How's that for realism?Reuse content