This is in reference to Broadchurch (series 3). Ellie's son is suspended from school because he has been caught with pornography on his phone, and he has been sharing it with other students. Understandably, characters (most notably Ellie) make a big deal.

That all seems reasonable, but what I don't understand is that there seems to be this idea that pornography is difficult to obtain. For instance, Ellie wants to know where Tom got the pornography. My initial response to this question was, "Duh, the internet." However, it seems like, to these characters, that this material has to be obtained through clandestine sources, almost like getting drugs from a dealer.

As a US viewer, my question is: Is pornography more difficult to obtain in the UK or for some reason less prevalent?

Or am I misinterpreting their reactions? Or do the reactions of Broadchurch's characters not reflect reality in the UK?


3 Answers 3


In the UK, it's no more difficult than in other westernized countries.

Even if there's a filter on the cell/mobile contract, smartphones can connect to WiFi. If the parents have put a filter on their own routers/ISP, there's nothing to stop kids from going to a friend's house where there's no such filter.

For the purposes of the story in Broadchurch, the kids obviously know that it's inappropriate and that the images/videos have been saved to the smartphone's photo gallery for later sharing/viewing, and it's this content that's been discovered.


Its possibly slightly more difficult for a child to obtain internet pornography in the UK than it is in some other western countries like the USA.

The UK government encourages ISPs to provide facilities to filter internet connections for pornography and other material. This filtering is voluntary but it has been implemented by the major ISPs that most home users use.

These ISPs typically have these filters turned on by default when a new account is created, and they have to be turned off by the account owner.

That said, these facilities are voluntary, may or may not be enabled on any particular internet connection, particularly if the connection was first enabled long before these conventions were established in the UK (between 2010 and 2014).

In addition the filtering is certainly not perfect and any technically able person is likely to be able to bypass. The purpose of the filtering is to prevent easy or accidental exposure to the material, not to legally ban it.

Millie is probably just surprised or a little technically naive, perhaps thinking that the filters are harder to bypass.

You can read more about the UKs culture of web censorship and how it arose on Wikipedia.


In addition to the given answers regarding the default filters being in place, I think kit's also important to mention that this story seems to follow a pretty common standard plot/trope for sitcoms and other TV series depicting families (esp. during 80's/90's):

Usually one of the kids somehow gets (possibly indeed innocent) into contact with something illegal, such as drugs or in this case pornography, and the rest of the episodes develops this story, talking about potential issues, consequences, etc.

Drugs might still be a thing, but given the relatively modern context of the show and the advancement of smartphones and tablets into classrooms and children's rooms, it's not too far off to retell the classic in a different way.

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