INTERVIEW: Joe Sims Talks To Us About Broadchurch

We're not usually ones to wish the weekend away, but this Monday can't come fast enough as this week it brings the much anticipated DVD release of Broadchurch.

Ahead of the release we were lucky enough to be able to have a chat with actor Joe Sims, who played the crossbow-wielding, dog-threatening, pheasant-stealing plumber's mate Nige Carter. Joe kindly took some time out from his schedule to talk to us about his pride in the drama, his hopes for series 2, working with David Tennant and that infamous dog moment. Read what he had to say below.

(The interview contains spoilers for those who have not yet watched the series)

Joe Sims as Nige Carter

Were you shocked when you found out who the killer was?

It was very difficult to know because we didn’t find out till right till the end and everybody had their thoughts and suspicions. But the way that it was written there was a certain amount of ambiguity, and that felt quite impressive to me. Ordinarily in these kind of things you’d find out in the last three minutes or so, so you got a chance to breathe and find out about the families and the implications it had for the community at large. That was the most pleasant surprise, I suppose

Who did you think the killer was?

I thought it was my best mate! I thought it was Mark Latimer. But that’s down to the writing as well, it really kept you guessing. We were fans of the show in exactly the same way that it tapped into the psyche of the British public, but it tapped into the psyche of each and every one of us as well. We spent so many times guessing and speculating as to who the killer might be, but you knew however it manifested itself you weren’t going to be let down and it’s a testament to the cast and crew that that certainly was met.

Nige Carter (Joe Sims) and Alec Hardy (David Tennant)

What was it like working with David Tennant?

He’s an absolute gent! I’m privileged to say that it wasn’t the first time I’d worked  with him – we did Romeo And Juliet together. I only had a small part. When I went for the read through [for Broadchurch] he was the only person I’d met before and I was fully expecting him not to remember who I was because a man that works that much and that hard, he meets millions and millions of people. But he came over to me and he took the time to say “Hey Joe, how are you doing?” and he took me round and introduced me to everybody and just put me immediately at my ease because I’d probably lost about two stone in sweat prior to walking into a room with such acting heavyweights as that. So for him to be so considerate and so kind, that’s just testament to the man that he is.

We guess that Chris Chibnall hasn’t told you very much about series two, but what do you hope will happen to Nige?

Again, I don’t know how it will manifest itself or whether Nige will be involved. If I’m asked it will be my pleasure to do it, because it was an absolute dream from my personal perspective. I do feel Nige has gone through an incredible journey and there’s still so much to explore. Of course it’s Chris’s prerogative whether he decides to take Nige on another fantastic journey. Like, we found out that his father raped and murdered his biological sister, but he has another sister that’s still alive. And obviously there’s the story with Pauline. Does he try to force some kind of relationship or does he try to make sense of it all? Certainly I’m very curious about it myself, as a lot of questions have been turned up, and I think that Nigel would feel exactly the same. So if that is the route Chris chooses to take then I think it could be extraordinarily exciting to see what happens to Nigel and to explore that in greater depth. But there’s so many stories and so many ways that he could go. He can choose to invest more time in the characters of Broadchurch or he can go in a completely, wildly different direction. I think that the one thing we can guarantee is that we can put our faith in Chris Chibnall to write something incendiary, and whichever of that illustrious cast want to come back, or Chris invites back, then whether I’m sat on my carpet in my room watching series 2 or whether I’m going to be involved in it I’m sure as hell going to be a massive fan.

It's brilliant that you’re all really excited about series two and we’re all exactly the same

You’re sure to have gained a lot of fans from Broadchurch, and everyone is talking about Nige. What has the public reaction to you been like?

I think now that he’s been absolved of all of the heinous harm that he could potentially have done Nige is looked upon a little more fondly. I think that’s the case because of the enormous journey he’s endured over those eight episodes. It’s been incredible. People have stopped me in the streets just to say, ‘Well done’. I’ve actually just come from giving a seminar at the National Youth Theatre, and they were really receptive to Broadchurch and really complementary towards the cast and the crew. Though after episode five when it looked like Nige was going to kill that dog I was scared to leave my house.

Nige kidnaps Vince (played by Bailey)

There was a national sigh of relief when David opened that back door and there was Vince

For me too! The Twitterati were up in arms and I had so many threats of what people would like to do to me if I killed that dog, to the point where some people may have thought that it was a documentary about the West Country rather than we were actors doing a job and no animals were harmed! And you know, I’m sure, that Bailey is Pauline’s own dog so she was very protective of Vince and he was made a real fuss of.

You’re going to be promoting the series in the USA soon, are you part of that?

I will certainly if I’m asked, there’ll be a team of people going out there and doing press, and from my personal point of view I’d love to. It’s a project I feel very strongly about and it really captured a point in time for the British public and they responded so warmly to it. I’m sure that an American audience will be massive fans like we did and I’d like them to experience some fantastic work not only from myself but also from the ensemble cast. I just think it would be a fantastic thing for America, I think that America will really embrace it. America has an enormous history of fantastic drama, and I think Broadchurch deserves to sit among that pantheon of greats and be that highly regarded and justifiably so.

The fan reaction that we have had through the website’s Facebook page has been amazing and America really can’t wait!

Yes, it’s absolutely humbling, we were all sat there after a night’s work, sat in the bar discussing things … you know when you’re involved in a project of this magnitude that you’re on to something very special, but it’s the public’s prerogative to vote with their feet. If you make something that you think is really special but the public don’t agree then that’s just something that you just have to live with unfortunately. So we were really grateful that the public took it to their hearts. It was an experience where every Tuesday morning everyone is huddled round the water cooler at work discussing their thoughts and feelings about Broadchurch and which direction it’s going to go and whodunit. That was brilliant. We were able to watch it in advance if we wanted to, but certainly for my perspective and I think for most of the cast that I’ve spoken to we all watched it at 9 o’clock on ITV and watched it with the nation which was just a beautiful way of being involved.

I watched the last episode actually with my mum and dad. I had a few interviews I had to be at that day and the last one was in Bristol so I got to spend a bit of time with my parents and they were really, really big fans as well. My mum was actually in it, she played my adoptive mum. She doesn’t have any lines or anything like that but I got her the job because in the part when I’m questioned at the house by the detectives, and I said to the director you keep saying SA – Supporting Artiste – as Nige’s mum, so why don’t we just get my mum in. She looks like the lady in all the photos because it is her. And he was yeah, yeah, yeah, that’ll be absolutely amazing! And then when David Tennant and I were shooting the scene together, mum got to travel with David in the car. I thought her head was going to pop off her neck she was so excited to meet him! And he was absolutely lovely, told her that she didn’t look 56, so that made her day. I think that quote is going to live with her as long as she draws breath. He made my mum a very happy lady!

Joe's mum as Nige's mum with Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller

What can we expect to see you in next? Have you got anything lined up?

Yes, I’m doing a cartoon series we’re in the middle of recording called Chuggington. I play a character called Chuggineer Fletch. I think it’s coming out in August, the next series, and it’s so lovely. It’s the antithesis of Broadchurch in so many ways, which is kind of unrelentingly dark, so it’s lovely to talk about caring and sharing and looking after people and promoting a really healthy image for young people and I’m thrilled to be part of that because it’s a really, really fun show. Plus I’ve got a two year old nephew as well and he’s a massive fan so when he sees his uncle playing a train he’s just going to be over the moon!

What did you think about the betting companies having a book open on Broadchurch?

It’s testament to the fact that it captured the imagination of the public that they wanted to run a book on it but it seemed a little bit strange that they ran it. Of course there were certain people who knew who the perpetrator was, so you think, do I just try and remortgage my house and put it all the money on Joe Miller? But I think they thought of that and the production company told us we needed to exercise caution when it came to that. But we were such believers in the show we didn’t want to tell anybody else about who the perpetrator was because it just wasn’t worth it. And if you put any more than £50 on anyway, people would have smelt a rat. No, I steered clear of betting and steered clear of telling any of my friends and family. I think the proof is in the pudding, everybody enjoyed the show so much I’m quite glad I did that. So I hope they forgive me anyway, that mum and dad couldn’t buy a new conservatory because I didn’t tell them.

You get the impression that it was a really close and friendly company to work with on set and a great atmosphere. Is that what it was really like?

It was a dream come true to be doing something that you’ve worked so hard for. You have your salad days as a performer, so it was a culmination of everything you’ve ever wished and dreamed. It was way more exciting. I’ve made lifelong friends from the show. I was hugely respectful of their talents prior to picking up the role in Broadchurch but to be able to call upon people like David, Olivia, Pauline, Andy, Jodie and the rest was just lovely, and they’re as fantastic people as they are actors, which I don’t think you can afford anyone any higher accolade, because to me they’re amazing performers

Joe, with Will Mellor, David Bradley, Simone McAullay, Pauline Quirke and Bailey

We all miss Broadchurch hugely on TV and Monday nights just aren’t the same without it.

Well, there’s more good reason to buy the DVD, because I was watching it knowing exactly what had happened, but there’s the minutiae, the attention to detail, the fact that all the clues are there. When you’re rewatching and knowing who the perpetrator was, that doesn’t detract from the drama in any way, shape or form, which I think again is testament to fantastic writing, directing and acting. You watch it again and you pick it apart. It’s a bit like when you watch The Usual Suspects, which I’m sure is better and more edifying the second or third or fourth time round because you’re already distracted a little bit watching out for the bits you missed the first, second and time round. I want to urge everybody to buy the DVD because it’s something, in terms of televisual drama, that you can keep for posterity and every now and again dust off the bookshelf and have another little watch, and then you’re bound to find something that you didn’t see first time round.

Broadchurch, created by Doctor Who and Torchwood writer Chris Chibnall, stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman as two police detectives who have to put their personal differences aside to investigate the murder of a schoolboy in a small seaside community. As the devastated town comes more and more under scrutiny the residents are forced to give up their secrets. 

Production is due to begin on Series 2 of Broadchurch early in 2014