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The Broadchurch Effect

Posted by
23 Feb 2015

With the final looming, it seems that many have been left unsatisfied with the second series of the hit series, Broadchurch. The critically acclaimed ITV drama drew in 7.3 million viewers for its return and the "Broadchurch effect” certainly started again.


For those of you who do not watch it, David Tennant and Olivia Colman solve crime in a village in north Somerset whose high street stands in for the fictional Broadchurch. The Broadchurch effect is said to be the boom for people searching for and booking holidays in Somerset and its neighbouring county, Dorset. In fact Hotels.com claimed around a 200% increase for searches in this area.

But I would dub The Broadchurch Effect as something entirely different. Many legal eagles are complaining over the legal scenes in the drama as being unrealistic and not a particularly true version of a courtroom. From previously working in a courtroom, I had noticed some of these and even pointed them out when watching the show. It seems I wasn't the only one with 1.5 million viewers lost from the first episode of the second series to the penultimate shown this week.

Predominantly the complaints revolve around the time between a not guilty plea and the start of the trial. In the series, this is around a few weeks but in reality can be months and months before a trial. People have also mentioned that legal arguments would never take place in front of the jury, witnesses would not watch the trial before giving evidence and even that there would never be free parking outside courts! A QC tweeted that "Broadchurch ruined for me by totally unrealistic courtroom scenes. Very annoying for lawyers watching such twaddle”. Another even questioned the demographics saying it was extremely unlikely to have two female barristers as well as a female judge.

However, it would appear that this isn't the first time that enthusiastic professionals get annoyed by television and film portrayals of their roles. The BBC researched the most common gripes about this and came up with quite a few. For example, librarians never 'shush' people and don't always wear twin sets with pearls, pharmacists don't wear white lab coats, plumbers can't fix everything with a screwdriver and a spanner and soldiers can't have in-depth tactical discussions in helicopters ("It is all you can do to stop your teeth vibrating out of your mouth” says Rob Allen, veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and a few others).  

I personally think this is a more accurate idea for the name Broadchurch Effect and can be seen time and time again from local TV dramas to international films. These passionate professionals want people to view their occupation with respect and adhere to the rules they have taken years to learn!

What do you think? Were you disappointed or do you think television rarely gets it right? Let us know your thoughts...

Tagged In: Careers, Events, Legal
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