Broadchurch storyline praised by sexual assault campaigners and viewers

Broadchurch's storyline has been praised by police and rape counsellors, saying they hope it will encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward.

The new series began on Monday night, with viewers moved by harrowing scenes in which Trish Winterman, played by former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, recounted being raped.

The show's writer, Chris Chibnall, said he wanted to tell the story after continued increases in the number of sexual offences being reported to police.

Set in a fictional Dorset town, the hit ITV crime drama's third series follows the investigation into the attack and producers worked closely with victim services before filming.

Helen Stevens, service manager at Dorset Rape Crisis, said it had been a "real privilege" to work with Chibnall and the Broadchurch production team.

"We hope that the series will enable victims of sexual violence to come forward to receive the help and specialist support that is available to them," she said.

Julie Hesmondhalgh's character recounts being raped in the first episode. Credit: ITV

Hesmondhalgh appears in the new series alongside Olivia Colman and David Tennant, who return as DS Ellie Miller and DI Alec Hardy.

Joan Carmichael, Detective Chief Inspector at Dorset Police, said: "Broadchurch is dramatising a very sensitive subject but it serves as a reminder that the police will do everything they can to bring offenders to justice and there is help and support available to anyone who has been a victim of such crimes."

Michelle Challis, manager at The Shores support centre in Bournemouth, said: "It was really important to us that Broadchurch's portrayal of the service provided by the SARC (sexual assault referral centre) was realistic.

"Seeking support following an assault is never easy so we wanted it to be demonstrated that there is dedicated support available and you will be taken seriously and looked after."

Viewers also praised the show's storyline on social media.

Chibnall, whose credits include the BBC's Torchwood and Doctor Who, said: "We've spent time since the series was last on air researching and developing this story.

"We have worked closely with support organisations in the Dorset area who work with victims of sexual assault.

"We've spent time with the amazing support workers who run referral centres.

Colman and Tennant returned as DS Ellie Miller and DI Alec Hardy. Credit: ITV

"We've developed relationships with and talked in depth with independent sexual violence advisers as well as police who investigate these crimes, and survivors of these crimes.

"These extraordinary people have advised us every step of the way.

"I wanted to tell this story because recorded sexual offences have been increasing year on year."

  • More information about the support available to people affected by issues discussed in Broadchurch is available at