Broadchurch star Matthew Gravelle on ‘complete shock’ of being cast as mystery …

Matthew Gravelle, the actor behind this century’s biggest TV whodunnit, has revealed how he discovered he was the Broadchurch killer – just two weeks before filming ended.

Gravelle, who played Joe Miller in Broadchurch, was on the set of another drama when writer Chris Chibnall called him to break the news.

“I was speechless,” admitted Porthcawl-born Gravelle. “And I felt incredibly thick as I just didn’t guess it. Watching it back now in the knowledge that it was me, I’ve been able to pick up the clues and think ‘how did you not see that coming?’. It was a complete shock.”

The rest of the nation discovered the closely-guarded secret last night when nine million viewers tuned in for the finale of the ITV eight-part drama, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman.

Gravelle – who along with the rest of the cast had signed secrecy contracts – said his phone didn’t stop buzzing following the revelation, even though his character was by then the prime suspect among fans.

“I had more texts in 10 minutes than I usually get in the space of about 10 days,” said the 37-year-old, who now lives in Cardiff with his actress wife Mali Harries and their two young children, aged eight and five.

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And he admitted he planned this morning’s school run with more military precision than usual.

“I tried to leave it as late as possible before running up to the school and dropping the children off and running back,” he laughed. “A couple of parents stopped me to let me know they had known it was me or had no idea but no one tried to push me over.”

Filmed in Dorset last year, Broadchurch starred Tennant as DI Alec Hardy and Colman as DS Ellie Miller who were hunting the killer of schoolboy Danny Latimer, which shocked the close-knit seaside community. While there were many reasons why each of the characters could have done it, the murderer turned out to be Ellie’s mild-mannered husband Joe, who viewers discovered had been secretly in love with the schoolboy.

“After telling me I was the killer, Chris Chibnall sent me the script that night and I read it twice just to get my head around it,” said Gravelle, whose previous credits include the TV dramas Baker Boys and Welsh language series Teulu. “Up until that point I’d been a house-husband and general nice bloke. I’d played him with a little bit of ambiguity – everyone secretly wanted to be the killer. Chris didn’t want Joe to be a villainous paedophile and I was very keen for that too. It would have been too easy to have written him off as an evil paedophile. I was really keen to play him sympathetically. He didn’t understand why he did it. It wasn’t a sexual relationship and he didn’t understand why he had those feelings.”

David Tennant and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch
David Tennant and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch


When Ellie discovered her husband’s shocking secret, she lashed out at him – and Gravelle was left with bruises.

“Olivia and I were kept apart purposely before that scene. I was given some padding for my back so I thought it wouldn’t hurt too much. But when they called ‘action’ she was kicking lumps out of me! I was hobbling for about three weeks.”

The actor, who thought the killer was Pauline Quirke’s reclusive character Susan Wright, said the way in which Broadchurch had captured public imagination was “bananas”.

“When you get a job you may think it’s got a good script but then you forget about it – even when it’s being screened you don’t think about it. But you couldn’t do that with this. And when I watched the first episode, I got as caught up as everyone else – although I had already spoilt it for myself by being the killer!”

Despite the popularity of Broadchurch. Gravelle hasn’t been stopped in the street many times by fans yet.

“Mali and I went to London on the weekend and she said quite a lot of people gave us double takes though.”

ITV has now announced that there will be a second series but Gravelle does not know any more details.

“I don’t think it will be like Midsomer Murders where there’s a different murder in the area each week as that wouldn’t work. Broadchurch has been so unique and you can’t bottle anything like that twice.”

While he waits to learn if he will be part of the new series, Gravelle has some radio plays and voiceovers lined up and he will soon be featured in the new BBCWales/S4C drama Hinterland.

“I’m playing another person of dubious morals,” he laughed.

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