07 August 2013

Broadchurch: The Walking Tour

Broadchurch, the mega-hit whodunit, premieres in the U.S. tonight on BBC America. And becoming a hit in its own right is the Broadchurch Tour.

British TV fans in the U.S. who've taken advantage of BBC America's online premiere of Broadchurch's first episode (in full and ad free) have been treated to what UK-based fans of the show already know: Broadchurch is absolutely brilliant.

And some of those fans across the pond have also had the pleasure of partaking in a different aspect of Broadchurch. Namely, touring Clevedon, the West Bay, and other areas in Dorset, England where much of the program was filmed.

Courtesy of © Literary Lyme

Enter the Broadchurch Tour.

Natalie Manifold
Courtesy of © Literary Lyme
The Broadchurch Tour is the newest walking tour given by Natalie Manifold of Literary Lyme Walking Tours, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing. She is one of the fewer than 4,000 residents of Lyme Regis, a coastal town near West Bay, which is situated on Dorset's Jurassic Coast, and the only one to offer a guided tour of many of the locations that make up the fictional town of Broadchurch. She also includes behind-the-scenes anecdotes and photos from the filming in the tour, amongst other goodies.

According to Natalie, "A lot of the locations require local knowledge to find them, and that's presumably how Chris Chibnall, the writer, found them... He lives in Bridport." (Bridport is another town by the coast in Dorset.)

Courtesy of © Literary Lyme

During the Broadchurch Tour, visitors are guided by Natalie to the cliffs, the newsagent's shop and the police station, amongst others of the local sights featured in the show. When I asked her about what Broadchurch viewers should look out for during the series, Natalie replied:

Newsagent's shop
Courtesy of © Literary Lyme
"All of it! But, if I tell you too much there will be spoilers! There are some incredible scenes in Dorset, England, which I think is one of the reasons this drama really struck a chord with its British viewers... Chibnall's script and production are extremely cinematic in their approach to the drama, drawing you in to the scenery and making it more like an Ode to Dorset."

Visitors to Dorset that have taken the Broadchurch Tour have given it 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor, including this snippet from Kevin T. of Bedworth:

"... The tour was fantastic and Natalie showed us a lot of filming locations with extra behind the scene facts and photos. As well as Broadchurch, Natalie told us stories about West Bay and historical facts, which was fascinating! Even my 8 year old, who obviously hasn't seen Broadchurch (too young), enjoyed the tour and enjoyed Natalie's stories. He has been talking about it ever since. If you were a fan of Broadchurch, this walking tour is a must for any fan!! Thanks Natalie!"

Natalie counts herself amongst those fans.

"I was a massive fan of the series, although I was a bit late to the party! I spent the first 3 weeks ignoring it - you kind of get a bit complacent about things that have been filmed in your area when you live in an area that is constantly being filmed! Then a friend of mine... pointed out how amazing Broadchurch was. The next day I switched on my PC and streamed Broadchurch - I was absolutely hooked after only 10 minutes.
"What was it that drew me in? The moods, lighting, music, fantastic acting, the rhythm and pace - to be honest, I can't pinpoint EXACTLY what drew me like that - just fantastic writing and a fab production with a world famous backdrop."

Courtesy of © Literary Lyme

Natalie didn't meet Chibnall or anyone from the cast or crew while they were filming. (According to her, "The West Country is very unusual in the way it behaves towards both visiting and resident celebrities: we leave them alone, almost to the point of seeming indifferent towards their being here.") However, she noted that she and other locals have seen a definite increase in tourism to the area because of Broadchurch.

"The thing about Broadchurch is that it is really an Ode to the Jurassic Coast in a way. You can tell that the script was born out of love for the area - something Mr Chibnall acknowledges. Broadchurch is very atmospheric in the way it is shot... almost cinematic. The coast plays as big a part in the story as the characters themselves, and this is obvious when watching. The fact that it is highlighted in such a way means that people take notice. The result? Increased visitors to West Bay... Lots of locals who haven't been to West Bay in years are revisiting, too."

Well, count me as one of them. A soon-to-be visitor, anyway, as I'll be traveling to various parts of the UK this November. And doing the Broadchurch Tour is on my soon-to-be-figured-out agenda.


If you're planning a trip to the UK and would like to do the Broadchurch Tour, too, Natalie shared this:

"Most tours at this time of year operate on the weekends, and although there are no scheduled walks for this time of year (the colder months), we can usually accommodate advance bookings. 
"I would recommend a waterproof (jacket), bottle of water and sturdy footwear (no flip flops/heels/sandals)."

The Broadchurch Tour lasts 1.5 hours and costs £8 per person. To get additional information about the tour and to book your spot, contact Natalie Manifold via the Literary Lyme Walking Tours website.

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