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Meet the very secret star of Broadchurch - Clevedon

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 21, 2014

  • Olivia Colman and David Tennant, main image, in the series, and below, Olivia and fellow Broadchurch actor David Bradley picking up their Baftas earlier this week. The series has been both a popular and a critical success since it first hit our screens

  • Clevedon, with its distinctive Victorian pier, is one of the unknown stars of Broadchurch PICTURE: Gavin Crilly

  • Hill Street in Clevedon

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Following its extraordinary performance at this week's Baftas – taking home three of the awards – Janet Hughes takes a look at the Broadchurch phenomenon

For millions of fans the soaring cliffs and golden sands of West Bay in Dorset make up the fictional harbour town of Broadchurch.

Visitors flock to see the beach made famous by the BAFTA award-winning TV series and coach tours take in landmarks such as the Harbour Newsagent and Ellipse Caffé Bistro.

But now creator Chris Chibnall has now let fans in on the worst kept secret in Somerset, that Broadchurch is probably more Clevedon than it is the seaside town of Bridport.

Accepting his Bafta this week he thanked the people of both towns for their patience in putting up with the film crews working on the ITV crime drama starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman. And as filming starts on a second series tourism businesses are hoping the town finally gets recognised by the nine million viewers who made Broadchurch one of the most watched programmes on TV for nearly a decade.

Bob Smart of Visit Somerset said: "We have been doing our best to promote the fact that Broadchurch really is Clevedon, but we've not really got very far with it

"The town does not really get the recognition it deserves. The TV people like it because they like to keep their locations secret, but if we want to portray Clevedon as a place worth visiting, we need to get the word out there."

Clevedon's historic pier has previously appeared in films such as Remains of the Day and recently had a starring role in a pop video by One Direction.

But few fans outside the West Country realise that Broadchurch High Street is nearly 70 miles away from West Bay and is actually Hill Road, Clevedon with a TV makeover.

The old Lloyds Bank, St Andrew's Church, Clevedon Community School, Yeo Moor Primary School and the amusement park are also regulars on screen. Even the family home of 11-year-old murder victim Danny Latimer is actually in Lavington Close in Clevedon.

Some scenes were filmed at the Western Daily Press offices in Bristol and shops, hotels and other buildings in Portishead, Shepton Mallet and Weston-Super-Mare also featured heavily in the eerie whodunit.

The series has had some spin off benefits in Clevedon where the disused Sealey's newsagents office has been brought back to life after being taken over by camera crews as home of the Broadchurch Echo.

Mary Hadlow had been looking for somewhere to set up a market for three years when she heard local people were trying to buy fruit and veg from the fictional stalls set up by the TV crews outside the Echo offices on Hill Street. She applied for council grants to create a real market indoors at Sealeys, but it means the TV crews will have to find a new base when they return for series two.

Mary, who also runs The Cellar tapas bar that proved a popular off duty venue for makers of the series, said: "It's such a shame that Clevedon does not get the same publicity as Bridport because I'd say about three quarters of it is filmed here.

"People do not realise that Broadchurch is our high street but thanks to the TV series we now have a fantastic little indoor market that is very successful.

"We had the idea when we heard people thought the TV stalls were a proper market. The TV people did ask if they could come back in a few weeks time, but it didn't seem fair to tell our customers that we would be closing for a few months because Broadchurch is back.

"I don't know what's happening now. They might use the market for filming but they will have to use some old footage or find somewhere else for the newspaper offices."

Butcher Ashley Maunder has a stall there and hopes series two makes more people realise what is an open secret locally. He said: "It's a lovely little market and any extra publicity we can get will be welcome."

Unlike Clevedon, businesses in Bridport have seen the spin off benefits of the programme, even if they were not directly featured.

Graham Davies of Longs Fish and Chip Bar in Bridport noticed the hits on his website started to go through the roof as the popularity of the nail biting series soared.

"I think most of the interest is centred on West Bay itself but if fans go there, they are likely come into town as well," he said.

"A few years ago Harbour Lights with Nick Berry showcased the fantastic scenery around here and that is still bringing people in. Broadchurch has already had an impact and that will increase with a second series coming up."

Paul Gent, assistant manager at the Bridport Arms Hotel, said: "We have had quite a lot of guests saying how nice the area looked on TV and asking how to find the buildings and locations used in the series. In February we even had a Broadchurch coach tour."

It is especially important because the American version of Broadchurch, which is set in a Californian town called Gracepoint, is set to air in the autumn on US channel Fox, heightening interest in British locations across the Atlantic.

This week Broadchurch was in the headlines again when it scored a hat-trick at the Baftas with actress Olivia Colman, co-star David Bradley and the show itself winning awards.

Chibnall has confirmed the hotly anticipated second series will be filmed in North Somerset and told the community they will try to keep disruption to a minimum.

He said: "We're all thrilled about returning, especially given how supportive the whole community was last time. Forgive us if you're occasionally inconvenienced. And if you're able to keep our secrets as well as you did last time, we'll be ever so grateful."

Nick Yates, a spokesman for North Somerset District Council, said: "We are looking forward to the Broadchurch team returning to the area to film pieces for the second series. There will undoubtedly be an economic benefit from the filming and we look forward to renewing our excellent working relationship with the Broadchurch team, and of course we congratulate them on their BAFTAs."

Producer Richard Stokes, said the scenes filmed in the Somerset town were a vital party of the series.

He said: "We're delighted to be returning to Clevedon for the filming of Broadchurch. We have always been made to feel very welcome. The variety of locations the area gives us adds rich depth and texture."


Bridport has good reason to boast it is the Golden Gateway to the Jurassic Coast. Situated at the western end of the famous Chesil Beach, West Bay is part of the World Heritage Site within Lyme Bay. The Dorset historic market town of Bridport lies one and a half miles inland from the West Bay coast. It has been featured in many TV programmes and films. In the 1970s it was the iconic opening scene in the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin which saw the late Leonard Rossiter, abandoning his clothes on a deserted beach and swimming out to sea. In Harbour Lights, 1998-2000, it became the fictional harbour town of Bridehaven. Nick Berry starred as harbour master Mike Nicholls haunted by a tragic diving accident which claimed the life of his close friend. The original 'River Cottage' was a rented weekend retreat for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and he purchased a Lower Atrim Farm, Broadoak near Bridport to keep the dream alive. The Dunlop Advertisement of the 1970's starring Formula One driver, Jackie Stewart was filmed on the now demolished West Pier.


Clevedon's real star is the restored Grade I listed pier which dates from 1869 and is recognised as one of the finest in the country. The Waverley paddle steamer and her sister ship the Balmoral pleasure cruiser are frequent callers at the pier and coastal walks offer stunning views have inspired many great writers including Tennyson, Thackeray and Coleridge. Clevedon has appeared in the film adaptation of the Booker prize- shortlisted science-fiction novel Never Let Me Go, which featured British stars Keira Knightley , Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield. The 1993 movie The Remains of the Day, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, had scenes filmed in Clevedon and in March boyband One Direction filmed a music video for their single You and I on Clevedon Pier. Singer George Shelley grew up in the town. The name Clevedon derives from the Old English, 'Cleve' meaning cleave or cleft and 'don' meaning hill. Wain's Hill is an Iron Age hill fort situated approximately one mile (1.6 km) south-west of Clevedon. The hillfort is defined by a steep, natural slope.

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