Broadchurch Interview: Joe Sims Talks To The Custard TV

Luke Knowles from the Custard TV has had a chat with the always entertaining Joe Sims on Tuesday. Joe plays “crossbow-toting crazy man” Nige Carter in the ITV crime drama series Broadchurch, which also stars David Tennant, Olivia Colman and Pauline Quirke.

The interview was recorded just a day after Nige was last seen levelling his crossbow at the chocolate labrador owned by current chief suspect Susan Wright (Pauline Quirke). Joe was amazed that people were more traumatised by the dog then any of the other horrible things that had happened in the drama so far, joking that he was worried to go out and get milk in case he got lynched in the street. He assured listeners that no animals were harmed: “It’s salacious gossip. Nothing has been proved.”

Joe was asked about how not knowing who the culprit was affected their performances while filming the drama. “I thought it was fantastic,” he said, “It gave us a lot of creative license to take it in directions that we wanted to and I think that ultimately for a whodunit every character is played so much more honestly. For example, the wonderful David Tennant didn’t want to know because when he’s interrogating people, when he’s piecing things together you can actually see that he’s really, really doing it, and I think that leads to such a multi-layered and structured performance.”

The cast were given the bare bones of their characters and knew vaguely in which direction the story would go. Occasionally the directors would call a member of the cast out just before filming a scene to give them a few extra pointers on what was coming up for their character to help them to play the scene. Otherwise they just put their trust in the show’s creators. Joe said:

“The first scripts were just mesmerising – when you read something that good it’s very easy to put your faith in people who are absolutely at the top of their game. Plus looking at that fantastic cast, you knew it was going to be the cheapest drama school ever – just watch and learn.

“What Chris has come up with is nothing short of an exceptional piece of writing and I’m very proud and privileged to have been involved.”

As a member of the BBC’s Radio Drama Company, this wasn’t the first time that Joe had worked with David. He was among the cast of last year’s Radio 3 production of Romeo and Juliet. “I’ve had the privilege of working with David Tennant before,” he said, “He’s very, very friendly, a very inclusive man and was very keen to get me involved and introduce me to people, which lightens your load because when you’re working with heavyweights in terms of writing and direction and performance then it was very daunting for me. But David was kind enough to put me immediately at ease, as did the rest of the cast and crew.”

Joe also revealed one of his most memorable incidents from the set, which made it onto the bloopers reel watched by the cast and crew at the wrap party: “It’s where David is having his dream and urging us to get out of the water, so me, Will, Andy and Arthur are stood there. We were meant to be actually in the water but the waves were so strong at the time that we were told just to have it licking at our feet. Anyway, this massive wave came in from nowhere and absolutely covered us. So promptly I went shrieking like a banshee up the beach, waving my hands and screaming up the beach because I’d been covered in water only to find that the other three were real men and they just stood stock still and laughed at me. Unfortunately the director had to cut because it could have been a really good shot but I was less than an alpha male that day and they’ve never let me live it down!”

Broadchurch regularly enjoys 7million viewers weekly. Joe puts this down to the way that it has tapped into the public imagination. Everybody knows a Nige, a Mark, an Olly, and it makes it very easy for audiences to relate to their own communities, while the slow and steady pace allows people to really get to know the characters and invest in them. The infighting and finger pointing within the small community feels very real. However, Joe couldn’t be tempted to give away any hints about what is coming up in the final two episodes of Broadchurch.

“At this stage, what you’ve seen now, at the time we didn’t necessarily know exactly in what direction it was going and I think a lot of the fun is in the finding out. To get to this stage and to see some fantastically layered and structured performances it would seem like a shame to give anything away and I’m loath to do that,” he explained, and added that even knowing what is going to happen wouldn’t take away from enjoying the finale, “I’ve been involved the whole way through and I do know what’s going to happen but that hasn’t in any way hampered my enjoyment of it. I remember Chris telling us from the start that the clues are all in there, and we were racking our brains, going through the script in minute detail to see if there was anything that gave us a little bit of a clue. Buy the DVD, because there’s so much in there that when you look back you’ll be kicking yourself!

“It was a fantastic group of people that were assembled. It’s humbling to see the public response, I’m absolutely thrilled that people are enjoying it and there’s so much more fun, excitement, twists and turns in the last two episodes I couldn’t possible dream of telling you where to begin.”

Broadchurch continues on Monday 15th April at 9pm on ITV

The DVD of the series, including a behind-the-scenes feature, is released on Monday 20th May. Pre-order your copy now