Dorset TV town prepares for murder tourism bonanza

A small coastal town in the county of Dorset, UK, is preparing for a tourism bonanza after being the TV drama setting for the fictional town of Broadchurch, and the murder mystery that unravelled there over the show’s eight weekly episodes.

Desperate to experience all things Broadchurch now that the series finale has been broadcast on Monday evening, many of the hit show’s estimated seven million fans are keen to witness the macabre landmarks at first hand by visiting the town of West Bay, Broadchurch’s real-life alter ego.

The TV show’s plot centred around the murder of a young boy, Danny Latimer, and the host of likely suspects whose motives ebbed and flowed with each episode. But Broadchurch itself, or West Bay, was arguably as important to the show’s success as the stellar cast that acted around its environs. The passive, understated ambience of the town built on the eerie atmosphere and was a disquieting counterpoint to the eccentric activities of the prime suspects, while the brooding cliffs that featured so prominently in the story pressed in on the town from both sides.

West Bay’s sudden prominence is already benefiting its local businesses, with the Daily Mail reporting that shops, hotels and restaurants have seen a notable increase in visitors and healthy future bookings. A spokesman for West Dorset District council told the paper that the council’s tourism website was receiving three times the hits that it had received last year, with the increase attributed to the Broadchurch factor.

Speaking to the Times, Natalie Manifold, from Literary Lyme Walking Tours in Lyme Regis, said, ‘I already have bookings for July, which is unusual so far in advance, and visits to my website have quadrupled.’

West Bay’s flirtation with fame could be set to run and run, with the success of Broadchurch all but guaranteeing a second series, and more grisly goings-on in the peaceful seaside town.