The latest television sensation of 2013 could help people across the world find out more about 185 million years of the earth's history revealed on the West Dorset coast.

Hopes are high that Broadchurch, the ITV drama filmed largely in West Bay and starring the Jurassic coastline will continue to raise awareness of the World Heritage Site and draw people to the area.

And even the cast of Broadchurch can't keep away as Pauline Quirke, who played Susan Wright, was spotted back in the bay this week enjoying a short holiday.

Although the first series of the top-rating programme is over, it has already been nominated for a clutch of prestigious awards and is tipped for BAFTAs for the stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman.

Created by Bridport's Chris Chibnall, it has been nominated for Golden Nymph awards at the Monte Carlo television festival next month as best mini-series while Tennant and Colman are up for outstanding actor and actress.

And when the series is aired on BBC America later this year the Broadchurch effect is set to get a new impetus as US viewers follow the example of fans in UK and Europe and try to seek out the real Broadchurch and the stunning coastal locations which were key to the show's atmosphere and success.

Dr Sam Rose, of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team says that Broadchurch is an opportunity to raise awareness and encourage people to find out more.

“We are hopeful that the views of the cliffs and beaches that have been shown in Broadchurch will inspire a fair number of people to come down and find out about the area and the World Heritage Site and why it is important.

“Bridport and West Bay is a great little gateway town for the Jurassic Coast and Broadchurch has been another platform for exposure.

“People will be able to get the feel of the whole raft of time that is exposed here.

“For us it is about being inspired to come and find out about the coast, not simply about tourism. This is England's only natural world heritage site.”

Dr Rose said the interest sparked by Broadchurch could encourage visitors to get involved in Jurassic coast activities and “tread gently and breathe deeply”.

“Can we use it as an opportunity to address ongoing concerns around perception of safety by getting the key safety messages out there - while keeping the issues in perspective?” added Dr Rose.

“The show visually promoted one of the spectacular highlights of the Jurassic Coast geology to 9 million viewers and money, especially local authority budgets, can't buy that sort of exposure. So we are linking to it via social media, particularly pushing out snippets of information relating to the Jurassic Coast aspects of West Bay on Facebook.”

Pauline Quirke and co-star Bailey, her labrador, who played Vince both “signed” the Harbour News Broadchurch posters which are up for auction.

“Pauline was spending a few days holiday here and she signed our Broadchurch poster, which is also signed by Chris Chibnall and Bailey put a little pawprint on the Lost Dog poster,” said Richard Attrill, of Harbour News.

“She has said before that she really fell in love with the place.”

Bids for the Broadchurch posters can be left at Harbour News until the “auction” date of Sunday, May 5.