Broadchurch Suspect Profile Number 2: Reverend Paul Coates

The second of our chief suspect profiles takes a look at the Reverend Paul Coates played by Arthur Darvill. Here's the background to Paul and all of the reasons why he could be the killer.

Paul serves as the vicar of Broadchurch and it falls to him to be the spiritual leader of the small community following the terrible events that his the town. He has only been in the post for about four years and this is his first parish, and at the moment congregation numbers are low. Nonetheless, Paul does his best to be a fully engaged member of the community. He takes part in five-a-side football with Mark Latimer and offers non-religious support to other members of the community – financial advice to Becca Fisher, for instance. Paul also runs a computer club at the local primary school, of which both Danny Latimer and Tom Miller were members. It is not known what Paul did for a living before he turned to the church. Paul lives alone in the vicarage, close to the Latimers’ house.

Paul revealed to Detectives Hardy and Miller that he tends to go for walks around the town late at night as he suffers from insomnia. He couldn’t remember where he had been on the night of the murder, however in the most recent episode he referred to ‘the usual route’ implying that he takes the same paths regularly. It’s possible then that he can remember exactly where he was, but chooses not to divulge that information.

Paul has shown himself to be the sort of person that does not give up secrets easily. He became very close to Beth Latimer and supported and advised her through the early days of her secret pregnancy. He also offered counselling to Mark and Beth and he recommended that they should value the new life that had been sent to them.

When Jack Marshall was being victimised by the rest of the community and accused of molesting and murdering Danny, Paul was one of the few that was vociferous in his defence, going so far as to challenge Hardy’s handling of the matter. This riled Hardy, but not as much as Paul’s later sermon, delivered at Jack’s funeral, which spoke of the failures suffered by Danny and Jack and which Hardy took to be a personal attack. It was also curious that Paul was so certain that Jack wasn't the killer - did he have reason to know otherwise? He also witnessed Paul holding Tom’s hand at Jack’s wake. It provoked him to trail Paul where he discovered that not only was Paul a recovering alcoholic, but he’d once assaulted a child during an incident that the vicar claimed was a practical joke gone wrong. It was enough to put Paul on Hardy’s main suspect list.

Tom Miller was seen deleting computer files from his laptop right back in episode one, raising the suspicion that there might be a link to the computer club. However, Paul seemed unperturbed when Tom approached him for advice on whether deleted files could be recovered from a hard disc. He also readily handed over Tom’s smashed computer to Hardy, suggesting that he was not concerned about what the police might find on the drive. However, it is curious that apparently he did not report the encounter to either Ellie or Joe Miller. Does Paul already have suspicions of his own? Paul informed Hardy that Tom had threatened to accuse him of molesting him if he told anyone about the computer – he hesitated when Hardy asked him if it were true, although this could as much be exasperation with Hardy as a sign of guilt.

Paul also reported another incident some months ago when he caught Tom and Danny fighting in the classroom before a lesson. We’d already heard from Tom that he hated Danny and didn't consider him his friend. Paul said that he’d informed both sets of parents, but Ellie again, was unaware. So either Paul had his reasons for withholding information or Joe hadn't bothered to tell Ellie.

Olly Stevens informed the police that Paul Coates was one of the many Broadchurch residents that knew about the whereabouts of his boat and had rented it out for a day

At the moment Paul still does not have an alibi for the night of the murder. However, what would be the motive for him killing Danny? Is he trying to raise the spiritual need of the town to progress his career? Did he have a drunken lapse and lose control? Is he involved in some sort of sex or drugs ring, or is it financial? 

Find out for sure in the final episode of Broadchurch in Monday 22nd April at 9pm


  1. I don't think it's Paul. Yes, he's held back some details about his past, but I think that he has been supportive and above-board throughout the show. Plus, Rory isn't capable of murder ;-).

  2. He is literally the only person I don't suspect.

  3. Arthur has a completely different character in this show. Paul is not Rory so you shouldn't compare them.
    But I agree I don't think its Paul.


Post a Comment