Julie Hesmondhalgh a hit with viewers as Broadchurch returns for third series

Broadchurch viewers have hailed Julie Hesmondhalgh for giving a “masterclass in acting” as she appeared in the first episode of the third series.

The hit crime drama starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant as DS Ellie Miller and DI Alec Hardy returned to ITV on Monday night with a chilling case of sexual assault.

Olivia Colman and David Tennant ( Patrick Redmond/ITV/PA)

Viewers were moved by harrowing scenes in which Trish (Julie) recounts being raped by a mysterious attacker, calling the former Coronation Street actress “a scene stealer”.

“Julie Hesmondhalgh is SO good. She brought Hayley to life in #Corrie in ways people never thought possible. Scene stealer in #Broadchurch,” tweeted another viewer.

The actress has said she hopes Broadchurch makes “great strides in raising awareness as well as being a good piece of TV drama”.

She told BBC Breakfast the show was “making it really clear, just by casting me, as an ordinary middle-aged woman, (that) it can happen to anybody obviously, that it isn’t an act of sex, it’s an act of violence”.

The episode also saw Lenny Henry appear as farm shop manager Ed.

Sir Lenny Henry (Ian West/PA Wire/PA Images)

It was announced early in 2016 that the actor was signing up for the third series but details of his role had been under wraps.

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