Happy Valley is one of the greatest British TV dramas ever made. If you’re shaking your head in astonishment at that idea, then clearly you’ve never seen it – so give your head a wobble, log into the BBC iPlayer and watch the first two seasons, starring Sarah Lancashire as strong-willed detective Catherine Cawood. You won’t regret it.
When the first run began in 2014, writer Sally Wainwright had already enjoyed a massive success with Lancashire via Last Tango In Halifax. It’s a wonderful programme, but their pairing on Happy Valley turned out to be something even more special.
Fans had hoped there would be one last hurrah for DS Catherine Cawood sooner, but writer and star have been incredibly busy during the last few years, Wainwright with Gentleman Jack and Lancashire with the likes of Kiri, The Accident and her first US project, Julia. But the stars have finally aligned – what’s more, co-stars Siobhan Finneran and James Norton, who play Catherine’s recovering addict sister Clare and her nemesis, jailed killer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce respectively, are also back in the saddle.
It’s perhaps testament to Wainwright’s brilliant writing that Norton has agreed to return; of all involved, his star has risen the most since the previous run ended in 2016. He’s even been tipped to become the next James Bond.
“To take on Tommy one final time is a wonderful and daunting privilege, and something I’ve been looking forward to since we wrapped the last series, six years ago,” smiles the actor. “I’m so excited to be working with the insanely talented Sally and Sarah again. Tommy Lee Royce is an enigma and a puzzle and a kind of terrifying mess. Genuinely, I am still kind of working him out. I think I had certain preconceptions about him in the first series. We would talk about him quite flippantly as if he is a psychopath.
“I did a lot of work into psychopathy and was introduced to some behavioural psychologists and criminal psychologists who were really wonderfully helpful in excavating Tommy and the mindset that he has.”
Also back is Rhys Connah as Catherine’s grandson Ryan who has controversial ideas about what his relationship with his father Royce should be. Meanwhile, his gran, who’s on the verge of retirement, investigates a body found in a drained reservoir, and realises it, too, could be linked to the man she hates the most.
Happy Valley, BBC1, tonight, 9pm
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