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Det. Insp. Alec Hardy
Alec is an experienced detective from the city who has recently arrived in Broadchurch, wanting a quiet life after a scandal-tinged work history, after having been involved with a major murder trial — in which the suspect was released free of charge after crucial evidence was lost. Initially he and Ellie are hostile to each other as he was chosen over her to head the investigation and due to their differing personalities and views.
Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller
Played By: Olivia Colman
Ellie is Alec's colleague, and has a personal connection to Danny's murder, having been friendly with the Latimer family for a number of years. She has lived in Broadchurch all of her life, and her son Tom, who houses a dark secret of his own, had been best friends with Danny. Ellie is deeply affected by the murder, and resents Alec for taking the job she was promised by Superintendent Jenkinson. She acts as liaison with the Latimer family, relaying information which is given to her, and attempting to piece together the events leading up to Danny's death.
Chief Superintendent Elaine Jenkinson
Played By: Tracey Childs
Elaine is Alec's and Ellie's boss, and tries to settle Alec into life in Broadchurch. Although she is aware of his past, she does not use it against him, and offers him Ellie's promotion in her absence, having been on a family vacation for three weeks. Ellie is furious when she learns Elaine has given her job to Alec, despite being promised the promotion herself.
- Da Chief: She's the boss.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She's patient with her detectives and let's them handle the case as they see fit though she does get irritated at all the press leaks. The Turn in Your Badge moment is both for the sake of the case and out of concern for Alec's health.
- Turn in Your Badge: Part of the job as Da Chief. She finds out about Hardy's heart problem, and has him looked at. The issue is so severe that he's unfit for duty and she has him leave the force at the end.
The Latimer Family
Played By: Jodie Whittaker
Beth is Danny's and Chloe's mother, and Mark's wife. She works at the Broadchurch Tourist Bureau. She is completely overwhelmed by Danny's death, and struggles to cope, telling Ellie that she is further away from herself than she has ever been.
Played By: Andrew Buchan
Mark is Danny's and Chloe's father, and Beth's husband. He is a plumber. After Danny's death, he began desperately grieving for his son, becoming determined to find the killer.
Played By: Charlotte Beaumont
Chloe is Beth's and Mark's 15-year old daughter. She is a student currently studying for her GCSEs
. Chloe is overwhelmed by her brother's sudden death, but her relationship with an older boy, Dean, is another source of stress.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: She seems to be this (although the death of her brother is at least a partial cause).
- Teens Are Short: Chloe is a full head shorter than her (not-particularly tall) mother.
Played By: Oskar McNamara
Danny (11) is Beth's and Mark's only son, and the victim of the murder.
- Dies Wide Open: as the series finale shows.
- Posthumous Character: seen only in flashbacks (except for the short scene at the cliffs at the very beginning of the series).
- Troubled Child: his relationship with his family - and especially with his dad Mark - was very complicated.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: flashbacks show him getting into physical altercations with adults (i.e. the postman) and having a...relationship of an unclear nature with an older man.
Played By: Susan Brown
Liz is Danny's and Chloe's grandmother, Beth's mother, and Mark's mother-in-law. She is a bursar at the local school that Danny attended. She is completely at a loss following her grandson's death, but manages to be the one who holds her family together.
- The Reliable One: the only member of the Latimer family to keep her head on at all times.
The Miller Family
Played By: Matthew Gravelle
Joe is Ellie's husband, and Tom's and Fred's father. Joe is a house-husband, but before the birth of his children, was a paramedic. He does his best to support his wife throughout the murder investigation, but appears not to notice his son Tom's strange behavior.
Played By: Adam Wilson
Tom is Ellie's and Joe's elder son, and said to be Danny's best friend, though Tom denies this. He is a pupil in the final year of primary school.
- I Wished You Were Dead: said this to Danny after the two had a falling-out and spent most of the series trying to cover up the evidence of the fight.
- Troubled Child: death of a friend will do that to you.
Played By: Benji Yapp
Fred is Ellie's and Joe's younger son. Joe has been looking after Fred since he gave up his paramedic job.
Played By: Carolyn Pickles
Maggie is the editor of the Broadchurch Echo. She is furious when her junior reporter, Olly, makes the decision to tweet the identity of the murder victim and make it common knowledge. She is determined to work with the police, and wants Olly to act with integrity as a journalist.
Played By: Jonathan Bailey
Olly is Ellie's nephew and a budding reporter for the Broadchurch Echo. An early mistake, in which he tweets the identity of the murder victim, leads the national press to Broadchurch, a decision which alienates him from his aunt, Ellie Miller, and his boss, Maggie.
Played By: Vicky McClure
Karen is a high-flying reporter for the Daily Herald, who is determined to get to the bottom of the murder, and to uncover the whole story.
Played By: Simon Rouse
Len is Karen's boss at the Daily Herald, and is desperate to get an exclusive on the murder before any of the other national papers.
- Bad Boss: He has no trouble exploiting his employees for his own gains.
- Jerkass: Rude and callous.
- Paparazzi: He's a Paul Dacre type, highly immoral and utterly callous in his desperate attempts to beat other newspapers.
- Pet the Dog: Despite his prideful jerky nature, he does allow Karen to pursue her story. In a deleted scene he gives Olly some cynical but honest advice about how he should consider employment outside of the dying news agency, and even tells him to stick with Maggie whom he feels is far more competent.
Rev. Paul Coates
Played By: Arthur Darvill
Paul is the resident vicar in Broadchurch. He is the first person in whom Beth confides following Danny's death. He also tutored the local computer club, which both Danny and Ellie's son Tom attended.
- The Alcoholic: He attends AA meetings out of town.
- The Insomniac: Coates has struggled with insomnia for many years and takes long walks at night to help combat it.
- Nice Guy: Probably one of the friendliest, most morally upright characters in the show which makes his Shaming the Mob all the more effective.
- Sexy Priest: young, attractive and trendy.
- Shaming the Mob: In one of his more awesome moments, Coates furiously tears into the busybody citizens of Broadchurch at Jack's funeral, angry that they have the nerve to attend the funeral of a man who they bullied to suicide.
- Ship Tease: with Becca. They start an affair in season 2.
- The Vicar: Of Broadchurch.
Played By: Pauline Quirke
Susan is a local busybody and misanthrope, a former assistant for the Sea Brigade, cleaner and a physical marketing assistant for the local tourist industry. She prefers to observe Broadchurch's day to day business from afar, but takes particular interest in Danny's death, which happened not far from her home.
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Her general attitude: when questioned, she's hostile and irritated. She also doesn't share possible evidence.
- Cynicism Catalyst: The sexual abuse of her daughter and the subsequent investigation in which she was blamed.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Susan used to be Elaines Jones, who was oblivious to her husband's sexual abuse of her daughter. The resulting investigation was very damaging.
- Hidden Depths: She has a tragic past.
- Jerkass: Susan is a rude, irritable loner who stays away from almost everyone.
- Pet the Dog: She loves her dog, and refuses to share crucial evidence until the police find it.
- Red Herring: There's a great deal of time invested in making the audience think she's the killer.
Played By: Will Mellor
Steve is a telephone engineer, who initially stumbles upon the investigation when he is called to add extra telephone lines in the police station.
Jack is the owner of a local newsagent's shop where Danny used to have a paper round.
- Acquitted Too Late: When the true facts of his sex offense come to light, the media and townspeople have already decided to smear him.
- Bonding Over Missing Children: With Mark.
- Dark and Troubled Past: It's heavily alluded to, but turns out not to be overly dark. He did spend time in prison, but that's as dark as it got.
- Driven to Suicide: By the media who paint him as a monster, drag his name through the muck and finally go after his deceased family. Humiliated and distraught, he kills himself.
- Hot for Student: He had an affair with his student when he was a music teacher.
- May-December Romance: When he was 39, he had an affair with a 15-year-old girl just shy of being legal. When he got out of prison, he married her.
- Trauma Conga Line: Starting with the police's suspicion of him, Jack is bullied, tormented and humiliated. He even has the memory of his dead family insulted on a national level by the tabloids, and he subsequently commits suicide.
Played By: Joe Sims
Nigel (called Nige) is Mark Latimer's employee at his plumbing firm and is also his best friend. He is very close to the Latimer family, and often helps out with everyday activities such as cooking and cleaning.
- Hot-Blooded: He tends to act before he thinks. Then again, he doesn't ever get around to the thinking part.
- Laser-Guided Karma: His idiotic fear-mongering and relentless ill-thought Pedo Hunt lead to the death of Jack Marshall. Later, he finds himself in the negative spotlight of a scoop-hungry press.
- Pedo Hunt: Instigates one against Jack Marshall, which ultimately leads to Jack's death.
- Red Herring: Like Susan he's framed as suspicious, deflecting the investigation from him, him owning numerous weapons, some secret with Susan which culminates in her identifying him as the killer. After they find the real killer the detectives note the many similarities he shared with Joe.
Played By: Simone McAulley
Becca is the owner of the local hotel, where Alec is staying during his time in Broadchurch.
Played By: Jacob Anderson
Dean is a sixth form student studying for his A-levels and is also Chloe Latimer's boyfriend. He is two years older than Chloe.
- May-December Romance: With Chloe. There's only an age difference of two years, but when you're a teenager, two years is can mean the difference between legal and illegal.
- Not So Different: Although he's too dim to realize it, Dean is in a similar situation to Jack Marshall's. Both are have difficulty dating younger women who are on the cusp of being legal.
Played By: Tanya Franks
Lucy is reporter Olly's mother, and Ellie's sister.
The Killer (SPOILERS)
The Killer (Joe Miller)
Played By: Matthew Gravelle
Danny Latimer's murderer.
- Accidental Murder: While trying to stop Danny from telling anybody about them, Joe strangles him to death by accident.
- Bald of Evil: Joe is the real killer.
- Beneath Suspicion: As Ellie's husband, Joe remains off the radar while being very close to the case.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Joe is a detective's husband who's Beneath Suspicion due to his marriage, innocuous nature and lack of involvement in the case. Joe is basically a background character.
- Hidden Villain: (S)he stays shrouded in mystery until the last episode.
- Implausible Deniability: Pleads "Not guilty" in the trial despite an earlier confession and all the evidence.
- May-December Romance: In his twisted, ill mind Joe thinks this is what he had with Danny as opposed to him taking advantage of a preteen boy. He later tells Hardy he was 'in love' with Danny.