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Southcliffe is a British drama series that aired on Channel 4. Set in a fictional town on the North Kent Marshes, it employs a nonlinear narrative structure to tell the story of a series of shootings by a local man portrayed by Sean Harris, the cause of the shootings and the effects on the town and residents. The series explores tragedy, grief, responsibility and redemption as seen through the eyes of a journalist returning to the small town of his childhood to cover the story.[2]

Southcliffe TV drama.jpg
Written byTony Grisoni[1]
Directed bySean Durkin[1]
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes4
Executive producer(s)Peter Carlton
Sophie Gardiner
Producer(s)Derrin Schlesinger
Running time240 minutes
Production company(s)Warp Films
DistributorChannel 4 (UK)
Original networkChannel 4
Original release4 August (2013-08-04) –
18 August 2013 (2013-08-18)
External links

The series was filmed in Faversham in North Kent[3] and was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[4][5]




In August 2012, Channel 4 announced that they had ordered a four-part drama series titled Southcliffe. The drama was written by Tony Grisoni and produced by Warp Films, with Peter Carlton and Sophie Gardiner serving as executive producers, and Sean Durkin as director.[6]


The story is of a fictional English market town devastated by a spate of shootings which take place over a single day, 2 November 2011. According to its writer Grisoni, "Southcliffe is a fictional market town inhabited by fictional characters, but with similarities to many actual people and places in Britain today; invisible people, anonymous places." He added that "Southcliffe is an anthem to ordinary people's ability to reinvent themselves in the face of ultimate darkness."[2] However, he denied that Southcliffe's central conceit is exploitative. "It's not really a story of a spree shooting. It's a story of people who are suddenly robbed of someone very close to them." He insisted that it is vitally important not to portray the shooter as a cartoon monster, but that he is a human being and should be treated as one.[7]


Filming began in October 2012 in Faversham, on an eight-week shooting schedule,[8] and took place at various locations in and around Faversham, including local homes, town centre streets, the Faversham Creek, Hollowshore pub, The Shipwright's Arms, Faversham Recreation Ground, The Market Inn, Oare Marshes, Uplees Cottage, as well as other locations in Kent such as Whitstable, East Kent Railway, Grain Power Station, Teynham Court Farm, Canterbury Hospital, Sittingbourne Police Station, Sittingbourne Community College, and others.[9][10] Faversham Enterprise Partnership estimated that the filming generated £500,000 for the local economy. However, some residents expressed concerns about its effect on the town after it became apparent that the story is of a Hungerford-type shooting.[11]


The critical response to the first two episodes was mostly positive. Benji Wilson of The Daily Telegraph thought that with "its muted palette, protracted silences, dank fogs and seething unease, Southcliffe was anything but nice-cup-of-tea and a sit-down TV, but it was a mesmerising tragedy, nonetheless."[12] Arifa Akbar of The Independent noted "its disturbing silences" and called it "a rare and brilliant Sunday-night viewing",[13] while Paul Whitelaw of The Scotsman considered Southcliffe to be "a major work, and quite easily the best British TV drama of the year so far."[14] The sentiment was shared by Euan Ferguson of The Observer, who called it "the TV event of the year."[15] Sam Wollaston of The Guardian thought that the drama series was a masterly study of a tragedy in smalltown England, one that "felt – and looked, and sounded – so utterly and terribly real", and that it was a "profound, chilling, moving piece of television".[16]

Serena Davies of The Daily Telegraph, however, voiced a contrary opinion and wondered if the level of violence in this show as well as other TV dramas is really necessary,[17] while Christopher Stevens of The Daily Mail thought that the character and situation were not believable and that the storyline went from "improbable to downright insulting."[18]


No. Title[19] Original air date UK viewers inc.HD
1"The Hollow Shore"9pm 4 August 2013 (2013-08-04)2.77
A local handyman, Stephen Morton, meets a young soldier, Chris Cooper, who has returned home from Afghanistan, and invites him to a training mission. Morton presents himself as a former SAS soldier; however, Cooper later discovers this is untrue, and together with his uncle, beats and humiliates Morton. The morning after his humiliation Morton goes on a killing spree, starting with his elderly bedridden mother for whom he was caring.
2"Light Falls"9pm 5 August 2013 (2013-08-05)2.27
Stephen Morton goes to Chris Cooper's house and shoots Cooper's girlfriend, but spares Cooper. Pub landlord Paul Gould learns his wife and two young daughters were amongst the victims. The daughter of Claire Salter, a social worker caring for Morton's mother, is also shot dead. The reporter David Whitehead, who grew up in Southcliffe and knew Morton as a child, arrives at the crime scenes after hearing of the major incident in the town. Morton hides in a storm drain in the marshes and is then reported to have killed himself.
3"Sorrow's Child"9pm 11 August 2013 (2013-08-11)1.79
David Whitehead finds many of the townspeople reluctant to talk. In a fit of rage, he rants that the town asked for it and deserved the tragedy that befell the community. The families of the victims try to come to terms with their loss. Paul Gould, ridden with guilt and grief at the loss of his family, jumps off a foot bridge.
4"All Souls"9pm 18 August 2013 (2013-08-18)1.58
A year later the people affected are still traumatised by the event. David Whitehead returns to Southcliffe to investigate the possibility that Stephen might not have died. He becomes concerned at the mental state of Chris Cooper and stops him from trying to kill himself.

Awards and nominationsEdit

The drama series received the most nominations at the 2014 British Academy Television Awards together with The IT Crowd, with four nominations each.[21]

Year Award Category Recipient Results Ref.
2014 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Actor Rory Kinnear Nominated [22]
BAFTA TV Awards Leading Actor Sean Harris Won [23]
Supporting Actor Rory Kinnear Nominated [21]
Supporting Actress Shirley Henderson Nominated
Mini-Series Southcliffe Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Robinson, John (26 July 2013). "Southcliffe: the most harrowing drama on TV". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Stellar casting announced for Channel 4 drama Southcliffe". Channel 4. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  3. ^ "Faverham stars in gritty crime thriller 'Southcliffe' on Channel 4". Kent Online. 5 August 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Southcliffe". TIFF. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Toronto Adds 75+ Titles To 2013 Edition". Indiewire. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Channel 4 has announced that they have ordered a new four-part drama titled Southcliffe". TV Wise. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  7. ^ Rebecca Nicholson (21 July 2013). "Southcliffe: TV that threatens the status quo". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Faversham takes lead role in new Channel 4 drama Southcliffe". Faversham Times. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  9. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Southcliffe Film Focus".
  10. ^ "Channel 4 drama Southcliffe brings £500k cash boost to Faversham". Faversham Times. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  11. ^ McCann, Jaymi (27 July 2013). "We wanted Midsomer Murders not Hungerford massacre: Town in uproar over serial killer TV series being filmed on their doorstep". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  12. ^ Wilson, Benji (4 August 2013). "Southcliffe, episode one, Channel 4, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  13. ^ Akbar, Arifa (5 August 2013). "TV review: Southcliffe might not be cheery, but this is rare and brilliant Sunday night viewing". The Independent. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  14. ^ Whitelaw, Paul (9 August 2013). "TV preview: Southcliffe, Steve Coogan". The Scotsman. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  15. ^ Ferguson, Euan (10 August 2013), "Rewind TV: Southcliffe; The Field of Blood; Make Me a German – review", The Observer, retrieved 12 August 2013
  16. ^ Wollaston, Sam (19 August 2013). "Southcliffe; Top of the Lake; The Mill; The White Queen – TV review". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  17. ^ Davies, Serena (6 August 2013). "Southcliffe: Is there too much violence on TV?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  18. ^ Stevens, Christopher (4 August 2013). "This SAS fantasist is so off target it's an insult to all real squaddies: Christopher Stevens reviews last weekend's TV". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Southcliffe: Episode Guides". Channel 4.
  20. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB.
  21. ^ a b Neela Debnath (18 May 2014). "Bafta TV awards 2014: This year's nominations". The Independent.
  22. ^ Emma Daly (20 February 2014). "Chiwetel Ejiofor battles David Tennant for Best Actor at Broadcasting Press Guild Awards". Radio Times.
  23. ^ John Plunkett and Hannah Ellis-Petersen (19 May 2014). "Baftas 2014: Broadchurch scores a hat-trick on a bad night for the BBC". The Guardian.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)

External linksEdit