A spellbound Bridport audience was sworn to secrecy as they got a glimpse of the first episode of TV drama Broadchurch starring West Bay.

The high profile ITV drama with David Tennant, Olivia Colman and Pauline Quirke is set to hit the small screen within weeks, but a special showing at Bridport Arts Centre was staged as a thank you to local people who supported the TV crew as they filmed in and around the beaches and harbour.

The plot of the eight-part series has been kept closely under wraps and even the cast did not know the outcome until it was filmed.

Writer and executive producer Chris Chibnall, who lives in Bridport, begged the ticket-only audience not to spoil the story for TV viewers.

Broadchurch explores what happens to a small community when it suddenly becomes the focus of a police investigation, following the tragic and mysterious death of a schoolboy.

Mr Chibnall, producer Richard Stokes and director James Strong faced questions from the audience after the screening.

Mr Chibnall said the screening was held as a thank you to everyone in the Bridport and West Bay who either helped or supported the filming since September.

“If found roads closed, let us run riot in your caravan park, or if you were anyone who just didn’t complain when you weren’t able to do something if we were filming – thank you very much,” he added.

The script for Broadchurch was designed around the dramatic coastline as a character and although the subject matter is dark, Mr Chibnall said he hoped the drama would attract visitors to the area.

“I hope that the way we have shot it, people will come here. Seeing something on television is a very powerful and I hope people will take from it that this is an extraordinary landscape.”