IT’S a WHO-dunnit with a difference.
A body on the beach, a former Doctor Who and one of the Birds of a Feather actresses are helping give West Dorset a starring role in a major TV drama.
Actors David Tennant and Pauline Quirke arrived in Bridport this week to film a new ITV1 series, Broadchurch, written by Torchwood and Doctor Who writer Chris Chibnall.
The 60-strong production team took over the Station Car Park in West Bay and East Beach, with its dramatic scenery the backdrop for scenes.
Pre-production teams have been in and around the Bridport area in the months before filming started, seeking suitable locations and getting ideas for sets from local buildings – including the Bridport News office.
Crowds watched as a large part of the beach was cordoned off and fake police officers and a squad of emergency services vehicles moved in for the discovery of a body below the cliffs scene.
The crew remained tight-lipped about the plot for the eight-part series, but it is known that David Tennant stars as out-of-town Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, who is set to clash with a local officer played by Olivia Colman.
Writer Mr Chibnall called it a story of ‘scale and intimacy’ in which the characters’ lives are ‘laid bare’.
He said: “Broadchurch focuses on a small British community which finds itself in the eye of a storm.
“In the wake of one boy’s death, the residents come under scrutiny and suspicion.”
Broadchurch is said not to be a run-of-the-mill police drama.
Some people thought the incident was real and were relieved to discover that the police activity – and the body on the shingle – were all make-believe.
Pauline Quirke took the opportunity between her scenes to walk on the beach with her chocolate Labrador Bailey, but said she couldn’t discuss the plot or her role.
Megan Hewlett, sous-chef at the West Bay Hotel, said a friend had said she had seen David Tennant, dressed in a suit, getting out of a black Audi in nearby Station car park.
“That’s not something you see in West Bay very often,” she said.
“It’s really exciting!”
Broadchurch is also being filmed in Portishead near Bristol.
The ensemble cast also features the star of Rev, Olivia Colman, and Will Mellor.
Vicky McClure, who recently starred with Tennant in BBC1’s True Love, also features.