Sarah Lancashire put in an extraordinary, award-winning performance as embattled Sergeant Catherine Cawood in the first, brutal series of Happy Valley. Having vanquished her mortal enemy, Tommy Lee Royce, Catherine is back policing the mean streets of Hebden Bridge. We got hold of an interview with Sarah Lancashire, which you can read after the jump.
The Killing Times: Did you expect the first series to be such a success?
Sarah Lancashire: You know when a script is good but you don’t have any knowledge how visually it is going to look. When this came out and I saw the first episode and thought it was terrific.
TKT: Why do you think it struck such a cord with people?
SL: I would like to think that the piece as a whole, the characters, the story, were all so engaging and really captured people’s imaginations.
TKT: Where do we find Catherine when the series begins?
SL: It is 18 months later and Tommy has been in prison for a year and a half. He was charged with three murders so he is in there for life. Catherine finds a body in episode one and the rest of the series unravels from there.
TKT: There has been a lot said about the violence towards women in particular. What do you think about the violence?
SL: Catherine is a police officer and the violence that she was subjected to in series one is what female police officers can be subjected to every day of the week. I would never condone anything which I thought was salacious, titillating, or gratuitous. If you replayed the violence from series one, what you think you saw you probably only heard because it was shot beautifully. It was an absolutely honest portrayal of what a female police officer can be subjected to.
TKT: How does Catherine Cawood get on with other new members of the team e.g. John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle) and Jodie Shackleton (Katherine Kelly).
SL: It is very interesting because they are CID. They have been brought into the building to investigate what appears to be a serial killer. She loathes Jodie Shackleton simply because she used to be CID and she knows how CID works.
TKT: What sort of reaction have you had from female police officers?
SL: The reaction from the police last year was that they had never seen a police officer portrayed accurately and he said Catherine Cawood is a great portrayal of police officer. This is down to Lisa Farrand who was our police advisor. She is retired from the force now but she was a sergeant and whenever we do any sort of procedural stuff Lisa is with me. She takes no nonsense and gets on with the job.
TKT: Does the series still maintain its characteristic humour despite the difficult storylines?
SL: Yes, Catherine’s dark humour is present all the way through. Remember how Steve Pemberton’s character got deeper and deeper until he got too deep? It’s the same with Catherine.
Happy Valley, series two: Tuesday 9th February, 9pm, BBC1
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