Over the last eight weeks, ITV has provided viewers of its hit show Broadchurch with one hell of a ‘whodunnit?’, centered around the rape of Trish Winterman played by Julie Hesmondhalgh.
Last night, in the final ever episode of the show, the answer to such a question was finally revealed in an hour of television which angered, frustrated and delighted fans in equal measure. Warning: SPOILERS AND POTENTIAL TRIGGERS AHEAD.
In the closing quarter of the episode, which had already seen several suspects including Lenny Henry’s Ed Burnett be grilled once more by Miller and Hardy, it was finally discovered that Michael (Deon-Lee-Williams), the son of ‘Taxi Man’ was the perpetrator, having been coerced into the attack upon Trish after being plied with alcohol by ‘Twine Boy’ Leo Humphries, played by Chris Mason.
The smug look on Leo’s face and the frankness with which he finally confessed to his involvement was both distressing and immensely powerful. “They’d had sex before,” he said of the four women everyone now knew he’d attacked. “I go everywhere equipped …there’s a moment where you’re in harmony with the world ….” – by this point, millions of viewers, myself included, wanted to throttle him, while Ellie’s reminder to him that “their bodies are not yours” drew an ever-growing wave of support.
— hannah piggott (@hannpig) April 17, 2017
Genuinely convinced that this actor is going to get punched by a viewer down a high street #broadchurch
— Líam (@doktorb) April 17, 2017
Damn #broadchurch finale is making me physically sick. Never had so much hate toward a character before
— Em? (@ItsEmily_Grace) April 17, 2017
"Their bodies are not yours"
Let the words of Ellie Miller ring out to any man that thinks it's okay to rape.#broadchurch
— Ellie?Unforgettable (@Ellie_Bailey2) April 17, 2017
— ishॐ (@_ishaamistry) April 17, 2017
Another key moment, which resonated strongly with the millions watching, came a few minutes later, when as Miller sat, clearly emotional, on the steps outside the station, Hardy joined her and said: “He is not what men are. He is an aberration.”
"He is not what men are."
Hell, I love Alec Hardy with all my heart. #broadchurch
— Resa (@xMasterWhox) April 18, 2017
"He is not what men are. He is an aberration."
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT #broadchurch
— Kath (@KathLlewellyn) April 17, 2017
To all my female followers, I am sorry I'm the same gender as people like that. To me, they're not men. They're not people. #Broadchurch
— Christopher Thomson (@MrCThomson) April 17, 2017
The closing scenes returned everyone to where it all started, with Miller and Hardy sat on a bench close to the cliffs and as the two parted ways and the credits rolled, scores of viewers took to social media to champion the show, with praise being heaped upon Olivia Colman’s Ellie Miller and David Tennant’s Alec Hardy and the show’s superb handling of such sensitive subject matter.
— Letty Wadley (@lettywadley_) April 17, 2017
— What's On TV (@whatsontvuk) April 17, 2017
I actually feel sick after watching #broadchurch It was so good, very well written, but maybe too well written. Just so shocking.
— Percy Wolfgang (@P_O_Wolfgang) April 17, 2017
— Lyd (@Lydsgouldxx) April 17, 2017
Strong, well-rounded characters, delicate topics handled right, and an iconic duo in Hardy & Miller. #Broadchurch is a tough act to follow.
— john ?➰ (@eldervex) April 17, 2017
What a show. What an ending. Absolutely brilliant. #Broadchurch
— Luke Johnson (@ThatGuyLukey) April 17, 2017
so incredible to see programmes such as #broadchurch tackle issues of sexual assault and challenge the 'boys will be boys' mentality
— hannah (@_hannahryan) April 17, 2017
So that is that. #Broadchurch is how TV drama should be made. Hats off to all involved!
— James Pywell (@JamesPywell) April 17, 2017
#broadchurch is the first British TV drama to fully address rape culture in all it's horror whilst still being sensitive to victims.
— Zoë Allen (@zoeallen28) April 17, 2017
olivia colman and david tennant are SO incredible and talented if they don't win anyway awards im gonna go OFF s2g #broadchurch
— ellie (@kanesabby) April 17, 2017
#Broadchurch finale intensely disturbing. Olivia Colman's face in the confession perfectly reflecting the disgust we feel hearing it
— Hayley Chapman (@HayleyChapman5) April 17, 2017
Olivia Coleman and David Tennant have been phenomenal. And the writers have done a great job at handling such tough subjects ?? #broadchurch
— jason paul (@Jasonpaul7707) April 17, 2017
— ? Karlpaldi ? (@CosmicWhoNerd) April 17, 2017
#broadchurch handled the subject of rape so sensitively yet extremely authentically, this series has been phenomenal & very powerful.
— phoebs? (@stellgibsons) April 17, 2017
Throws all the awards at Broadchurch.
— That Benedict Fan (@DetectiveShezza) April 17, 2017
Thought #Broadchurch was brilliant. Brilliantly written & acted. And unfortunately showing very real issues around rape culture.
— Debs (@Auntie_Debs) April 17, 2017
Sign Olivia Colman and David Tennant up for a new show, impeccable duo. #broadchurch
— Lucy Vickers-Smith (@LucyVS92) April 17, 2017
— Ally (@afrew43) April 17, 2017
That's was heavy, dark, important Tv. #broadchurch
— Christian O'Connell (@OC) April 17, 2017
The series’ story-line and the way in which it was handled was also praised by several charities and organisations.
Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support, a charity that advised on the series, said the show performed “excellent work” in their depiction of the realities of rape.
— SARSAS (@SARSAS_uk) April 17, 2017
Deputy chief constable with the force Gareth Morgan added:
“That was harrowing viewing but vital message landed. Rape is not sex. It’s about power and control.”
— UK SAYS NO MORE (@UKSAYSNOMORE) April 17, 2017
This morning, it was announced that an average of 8.7 million tuned in to see the series reach its conclusion, making the finale the most-watched episode of the series, and up almost 1.5 million viewers on the penultimate episode the week before. On average, this series has been watched by 7.5 million people each week, an increase of more than a million on the last and despite fans’ calls for another series, particularly following last nights’ finale, writer Chris Chibnall has confirmed there will be no more episodes of the show.