Chris Chibnall On Gracepoint: "Where You End Up Is Very Different"

Writer and producer Chris Chibnall has been speaking out about the differences and similarities between the UK crime drama Broadchurch and its American remake Gracepoint. In conversation with the Hollywood Reporter he has addressed comments that, at first glance, the two series appear to be carbon copies of one another and the concerns that the decision was taken to remake such a cherished series as Broadchurch at all.

The concept of Gracepoint was discussed with all four of the big US TV networks following last year’s BBC America presentation for Broadchurch at the TCA press tour, and all were interested. However, it was Fox that sealed the deal to produce the limited series. Not only was Chris Chibnall signed up as executive producer and the writer of the first episode, but original director James Strong also joined the production team and series star David Tennant chose to reprise his role as the lead detective investigating a boy’s murder in a small coastal town. Already potential similarities were being questioned.

However, in actual fact, although Broadchurch achieved huge viewing figures in the UK, in the USA it played to a very small audience even by cable network BBC America’s standards. Despite having a loyal fanbase who question the purpose of the remake, most of the population of the USA remain unaware that Broadchurch even exists, let alone who the original killer was.

 Chris expects that there will be criticisms. "It’s something we have to deal with, but I’m relatively relaxed about it," he says. "I’m incredibly grateful and humbled by the response Broadchurch got. What I’d hope would happen is people would look past their experiences with Broadchurch and look at what is unique about Gracepoint."

Chris Chibnall explains that the first two episodes do follow the UK original quite closely before the drama takes its own path. "Where you start is very similar ... Where you end up is entirely different," he says. "We wanted to take the proposition of the show — the mood, the tone, the pace, in terms of what we had in Broadchurch — and start with that. A sense of place is very important."

The series will come to a clear conclusion after ten episodes and Chris, the cast and Fox executives have repeatedly assured fans too that the ending will be quite different. Showrunners Dan Futterman and Anya Epstein approached him with an alternative.
"It was something I had thought about in the original,” he says. “There were a couple of different endings. That was my other ending, so that’s great. It was a really lovely bit of harmony there."

And as for a second season of the event series, he is optimistic. "I would very happily come back and be an event again next year. But I’m only coming back if we can be an event again. Events only."

Gracepoint, starring David Tennant, Anna Gunn and Nick Nolte, will premiere on Fox on Thursday 2nd October at 9pm/8c. It is believed that ITV are close to confirming that they will air the series in the UK. 


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