Tennant, perhaps best known as the tenth doctor on cult fave Doctor Who, will play a character similar to his role in the original Broadchurch, but this time he'll use an American accent. As in the U.K. Broadchurch, he'll play the lead male investigator in the case of a young boy found dead on a beach under a jutting cliff-face.
The casting reunites Tennant with Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, who's also executive producing the U.S. version and writing the premiere episode. Dan Futterman (In Treatment, Capote) and Anya Epstein (In Treatment, Homicide) have joined the drama as executive producers and showrunners. The show will also be executive produced by Shine America's Carolyn Bernstein (The Bridge) and Jane Featherstone (The Hour) from drama producer Kudos.
Fox announced in August that it would air a new version of Broadchurch as part of its "event series" initiative, which also includes the upcoming limited-run dramas 24: Live Another Day and Wayward Pines. The U.S. take is expected to shoot in January and air during the 2014-2015 TV season.
Broadchurch, which just wrapped its first-season run on BBC America, centers on the mysterious death of a young boy whose body is found on the beach in a small, quaint coastal town. As the investigation proceeds, it's soon apparent that many of the town's residents harbor secrets and can't be ruled out as suspects.
In the original series, which was the UK's most-watched new drama of 2013 (attracting more than 10 million viewers there for its season finale), Tennant plays Alec Hardy, a no-nonsense Detective Inspector who's new to the town of Broadchurch and immediately thrust into the case of the murdered boy. He's paired with local Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), a compassionate local who knew the boy and is still disappointed that she was passed over for Hardy's job.
TV Guide Magazine critic Matt Roush called Tennant "reliably compelling" in the role of Hardy. It's been a big year for Tennant, who also won a 2013 Daytime Emmy (as outstanding performer in an animated program) for his vocal work on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. His other credits include Blackpool, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Fright Night. This fall he's starring in the BBC1 series The Escape Artist and playing Richard II for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
It's fairly unusual for an actor on an overseas show to reprise the same role in a U.S. adaptation. In FX's Wilfred, Jason Gann reprised his role of the eponymous talking dog, originally seen in an Australian series of the same name. But more often, scripted series stars don't make the transition. The Office star Ricky Gervais was an executive producer on NBC's American version, but Steve Carell assumed the lead role. On the reality side, the move happens more frequently. Simon Cowell was a judge on the U.K.'s Pop Idol and then moved to the U.S. for American Idol. (He now stars on two different X Factor series airing on both sides of the pond.) Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli were Strictly Come Dancing judges in the U.K. who wound up on the U.S. edition, Dancing With the Stars.
The U.K. Broadchurch was renewed for Season 2 by broadcaster ITV. Chibnall has been coy when asked which actors will be back, but Tennant is expected to return.