Tag Archives: Happy Valley

REVIEW: Happy Valley (S3 E6/6)

Here we go then. The final episode of one of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed British crime dramas of all time.

I’ve thought long and hard about Happy Valley over the course of the week. It’s great to see it transcend genres, get huge press coverage and get people talking about what’s going to happen in the finale. I’m all for it, and it’s a testament to Sally Wainwright’s writing and, certainly, Sarah Lancashire’s iconic performance as Catherine Cawood that this has been the case.

Leading up to the finale, I was well aware that it had a lot to clear up, and I really hoped that it could land successfully. Perhaps not a happy ending – when and what in Happy Valley has ever been happy? – but something satisfying, and emotionally engaging.

The showdown with Tommy Lee Royce, the fate of the lead characters, the Kneževićs and the Faisal case… all of these had to be tied up. And they were – in unexpected, moving, and very human ways.

The first big unexpected element to this final was the fate of Tommy Lee Royce. The Kneževićs wanted to move him from the safe house after their two hapless thugs were caught with the money, but seeing a car full of gangsters who initially wanted him to get into the boot of their car presented a number of red flags. He went back to the safe house, took a knife from the kitchen and then concealed it up the sleeve of his hoodie. What followed was absolutely brutal. Fearing for his life as they drove along the back lanes, he decided to take the initiative, repeatedly stabbing the thug in the back seat and then slicing the throat of the person in the passenger seat. He and the driver then tumbled out of the car into a field (with sheep all around) and battled to the death. Tommy was stabbed in the stomach but prevailed.

His plan of escape was in tatters, his life on the line.

He went to the only place he knew that would be empty: Catherine’s house.

Up until that point Catherine had been in reflective mood, visiting Becky’s grave and aware that it was her last day on the job before retirement. She also heard from Ryan what she needed to hear: that he never had any intention of running off with his dad, he just wanted to see for himself what he was like.

And so back to Tommy Lee Royce. There he sat in Catherine’s empty house, bleeding out and knowing that he was close to death, poring through the photo albums that Catherine had herself leafed through earlier. There he saw his son as a baby and perhaps saw in that moment what things could have been like for him. As a father, as someone who hadn’t thrown his life away. He also saw pictures of Becky, and he wept.

Whether this was because of guilt and remorse or self-pity we don’t know, but it was a poignant moment nonetheless. Perhaps that’s Sally Wainwright’s greatest achievement in all of this – giving Tommy Lee Royce grey areas, human areas, hitherto unexplored.

When the showdown came, Tommy was on his last legs. There was no fight, no Catherine in peril. But what a scene. Emotionally charged with two people so obviously hating each other – Catherine because of what Tommy did to Becky and her family, Tommy because he claimed that he loved Becky and that it was Catherine who had ruined his life.

In the end, Tommy Lee Royce set himself on fire after telling Catherine what the Kneževićs had done. And afterwards, Catherine strode down the street, as she always does, but this time collapsing as her colleagues surrounded the house. She wept until Clare came and held her. “We’ve had another tussle,” she said matter-of-factly, through the tears. “I won, naturally.”

The other loose ends? The two thugs got theirs, Rob Hepworth was arrested – not for the murder of his wife, but for having indecent images on his computer – and Alison helped the police locate Faisal. But all of these side-stories seemed inconsequential, almost irrelevant at times, to what was the main event. This has always been my slight uneasiness about Happy Valley – that the Fargoesque side stories don’t fit with the battle royale between Catherine and Tommy Lee.

One brilliant bit of writing at the end: when Catherine asked her boss who would be looking after the Hepworth girls, he told her, “there’s a grandmother”.

In that moment, Catherine knew what this meant. There’s always a grandmother.

To finish on, we saw Catherine standing by Becky’s graveside in civilian clothes. She looked softer, happier, the weight of the world having evaporated from her shoulders. Let’s hope it stays that way.

I have to admit: I’m not as high on HappyValley as many others. I enjoy it and I love, love, love the dialogue, the character of Catherine Cawood, the superb ensemble cast and the way it transposes the Western genre into a sleepy Yorkshire market town. These elements all work very, very well indeed. As does its forthright and welcome subversion of this genre. Not just a geographical subversion, but gender subversion. Instead of the male sheriff, bestriding his town, we get Catherine – in her thick police trousers she may as well be wearing chaps straight out of a Western film.

Happy Valley is also an unshamedly and brilliantly feminist drama. And it’s all about survival. We see survivors everywhere – Clare conquering her addictions, Anne surviving sexual abuse, and Catherine – of course, Catherine – surviving the kind of combination of ongoing trauma that would floor any other person. All survivors of violence meted out by men. The message, I think, of Happy Valley is that men’s capability to cause violence is everywhere. It’s appallingly unrelenting both in the real world and here, too, in the world of Happy Valley.

But there has been some pleasing, clever and nuanced character development in this final series when it comes to Catherine. In early episodes, she often swaggered around the town. She knew everyone, and she dealt with issues with an almost matter-of-fact way, able to cut through any bullshit and solve any problem. Looking after and protecting Ryan widened out to the whole town – this was her purpose, this was what she was made for. So when we saw Clare question this purpose and wondered if Catherine’s my-way-or-the-highway approach, it was a plausible development – noble intentions and a fierce matriarchal need to protect became twisted to the point that she elevated herself above everyone, family included.

Catherine unravelled a little in this final series, and she needed to. Her healing required it. She had shed the shield, in every sense, and can now be human once again, willing and able to let others in.

Paul Hirons

Episode rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Series rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.






Happy Valley is shown on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK


REVIEW Happy Valley (S3 E3/6)

It seems barely comprehensible, but we’re already at the halfway stage of this superior British crime drama.

And, as episodes go, it was a belter. An absolute tour de force of writing, character development and depth, acting and action. Much has been said already around social media about this instalment and about how good it was, and I really don’t have anything more to add. You just have to sit back and marvel at each scene, its construction and execution.

At the end of episode two, we were left on tenterhooks after learning that it was likely that Clare and Neil had been taking Ryan to visit his father in prison. Sure enough, Catherine engineered a way to secretly follow them on a Saturday morning, and she soon found evidence that her sister and her partner had gone behind her back.

What followed was a scene for the ages. Catherine telephoned Clare while she was sitting in a cafe, the latter’s face flickering and then dropping with dread at the call. Catherine gently probed, said goodbye and then hung up. Clare breathed a sigh of relief, only for her world to come crashing down when Catherine came striding into the cafe and plonked herself down on the chair opposite. In the ensuing, difficult conversation there were tears from both, accusations, explanations… it was human drama of the highest order.

The most interesting thing I took from this conversation was Clare’s transformation through it. In the beginning, she was guilt-ridden and remorseful, but as the conversation evolved she fought back – gently, and then with a bit more force – and told Catherine that perhaps it was her who needed to take a look at herself; it was her that had to let go.

Letting go. A concept that Catherine obviously finds difficult, especially when it comes to her daughter, her daughter’s terrible fate and her relationship with Ryan. The scene highlighted human beings’ territoriality and skewed ownership of a situation or of a relationship with another human being. Or, in this case, purpose – for 16 years it has been Catherine’s purpose to look after Ryan, to keep the memory of her daughter alive via Ryan, and her duty to keep him safe and to make sure he doesn’t go down the same road as his father. But what happens when duty turns into reliance or even selfishness? What happens when duty and a burning, singular purpose turns into dependency?

These are the difficult questions that Catherine Cawood is facing, as she tries to navigate the flaring, renergised grief, horror, post-traumatic stress and everything else that Ryan’s blossoming into a young man brings back into sharp focus.

Another scene, shimmering with brilliance: Catherine confronting Ryan on Clare’s doorstep, the latter knowing that his grandmother knows he’s been visiting his dad. It becomes painfully evident that Ryan doesn’t know the full horror of his mother’s demise, and their conversation contains more staggering writing and dialogue – not least when Catherine momentarily breaks away from her pleas to Ryan to stop seeing his dad to ask him what he’s having for tea, and that if it’s stew it’ll be fine to leave for a while.

But Ryan wants to know more. He wants to know everything – the everything that Catherine has tried so hard to shield from his young eyes.

All this and we haven’t even mentioned Richard’s guilt over what happened to his and Catherine’s relationship immediately post Becky, Neil and his interesting character, the post-traumatic stress Ann is feeling because of Ryan’s actions, Catherine’s brush with the Knezevics, and the ‘side’ story of Faisal and the sickening, explosive violence he meted out to Joanna (a very Fargo moment, and another instance of warped dependency). Oh, and we should mention Ryan’s reconciliation with Hepworth – just before he (probably) gets fingered for his wife’s murder.

What is it with Ryan and bad boy father figures?

Paul Hirons

Rating: 5 out of 5.



Happy Valley is shown on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK

REVIEW Happy Valley (S3 E1/6)

It’s like it’s never been away.

That’s the overriding feeling you get while watching the opening episode of the third and final series.

Happy Valley – one of the most celebrated British crime dramas – returned after a six-year absence. And yet, it really did truly feel like it had never been away. That has a lot to do with the standard of writing by Sally Wainwright (it’s Sally Wainwright, what did you expect?) and the acting, particularly of Sarah Lancashire.

The characters are so well-formed, so easy to recognise and familiar with their paradigms and traits that watching episode one was like putting on your favourite pair of slippers.

And, like previous series of Happy Valley, Wainwright gives us the ongoing battle royale between Catherine Cawood and Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton, looking like a Halifax Charles Manson here) but also an intriguing, Fargo-esque side-story.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, slightly. In the six years since we’ve seen Catherine, she’s been edging towards retirement and now, as we rejoin her world, it seems like she can’t wait to handing her badge. She’s purchased a clapped-out Landrover and intends to do it up and drive to the Himalayas. Catherine – so warrior-like, so willing, almost martyrish at times, to protect her people – has seemingly mellowed, and has enjoyed the relative calm that has come with a grandson that has grown into a teenager and a life more or less without Royce.

However, storm clouds are forming.

Catherine is called out to a quarry, where bones have been found. She soon not only (correctly) identifies that they are human remains, but also (correctly) identifies the victim, gender and name and everything.

The second act sees Catherine’s superiors in conversation with Royce, who has been re-arrested on the suspicion of the murder of the man found in the quarry. Soon, he spills the beans – he was present at the murder nine years previously but denies pulling the trigger. The detectives hope that Royce will implicate the Knežević gang, the scourge of the local police for years. But Royce, still arrogant, still enigmatic and still dangerous, refuses and names a different gang instead.

Back in town, we’re introduced to Rob Hepworth (Mark Stanley), an angry schoolteacher who attracts the ire of Catherine after he calls Ryan a ‘little piece of shit’ during a school football match. Stanley’s rage is apparent at home too, manifested via coercive control and abuse of his wife Joanna (Mollie Winnard), who is addicted to prescription drugs. The person supplying her the diazepam is neighbour and pharmacist Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) – another well-meaning, cowardly figure Happy Valley’s side stories specialise in. When members of the Knežević gang pay him a visit at work and demand more sales and more drug money, he readily admits that he’s bitten off more than he can chew.

So that’s the side story, but now we get to Catherine and Royce. It turns out that the Kneževićs tried to kill Royce in prison (his forehead is scarred and stitched thanks to the attack), which is why he won’t grass them up. He values his life too much, and with good reason – he’s taking Spanish lessons and looking lovingly at a picture of his son Ryan on the shelf in his cell. This suggests that Royce has got plans for the both of them.

And he’s now well and truly in Catherine’s orbit again – she finds out that Ryan has been visiting her nemesis in prison, with the help of a mystery couple.

So there’s a lot of things going on in the first episode but it’s all beautifully put together – the dialogue is funny, quick and just phenomenal, while the acting is, well… as I mentioned before, it’s like it’s never been away.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Happy Valley is shown on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK

Happy Valley season 3 to debut on BBC One on New Year’s Day

We knew it was coming, and finally – finally – we can tell you when the third and final series of Happy Valley will debut on BBC One in the UK.

In this final series of six episodes, Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, and this sparks a chain of events that leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton). Her grandson, Ryan (Rhys Connah), is now 16 and has ideas of his own about the kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father, leaving Catherine’s sister Clare (Siobhan Finneran) caught in the middle. In another part of the valley, a local pharmacist gets in over his head when a neighbour is arrested.

This third series will begin on New Year’s Day (Sunday 1st January) at 9pm.

In the meantime, series one and two are up and available to stream on BBC iPlayer.


Happy Valley coming back to BBC One in 2022 for third series

We’ve speculated for the past five years whether Happy Valley will return for a third series. It’s never been ruled out, but each year we include it in our previews in the hope this year will be the year.

Now today, the BBC has confirmed that the Sally Wainwright-created series will be returning in 2022 for a third and final six-episode run.

Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran and James Norton (yes, James Norton) will all be returning for the series.

The BBC says: “When Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir it sparks a chain of events that unwittingly leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce.

“Her grandson Ryan is now sixteen and still living with Catherine, but he has ideas of his own about what kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father. Still battling the seemingly never-ending problem of drugs in the valley and those who supply them, Catherine is on the cusp of retirement.”

Sally says: “I’m delighted to find myself back in the world of Catherine Cawood and her family and colleagues for the final instalment of the Happy Valley trilogy. It’s been wonderful to see the lasting impact this series has had on audiences all over the world. I’m thrilled that Sarah, James and Siobhan are back on board for what I hope will be the best season yet.”

The new series is set to begin filming in 2022.


Series three of Happy Valley confirmed by Sally Wainwright

It’s been a slow-moving saga, and it still might be, but screenwriter Sally Wainwright has now confirmed that series three of Happy Valley has now been greenlit.

Series two of the internationally acclaimed crime drama aired in the UK three years ago and speculation has taken place ever since as to when a third series might emerge.

Red Productions’ Nicola Schindler spoke last year about the prospect of another series.

“We are working on a new idea for Sally for BBC1 which will be next year so the earliest Happy Valley would be would be towards the end of 2018, I would suspect.

“She won’t write the [Happy Valley] scripts for some time but Sally’s determined to do it, Sarah’s determined to do it.”

Now, appearing at a TV festival and interviewed by Line Of Duty’s Jed Mercurio, no less, Wainwright said a third series WILL happen.

However, TBI reports:

However, she adds that scripts will only get going once she has completed the already-commissioned second series of HBO/BBC One co-production Gentleman Jack, which recently wrapped its first series to stellar ratings.

Lookout Productions are set to take over from Red, while Wainwright also said that Netflix will also be involved at some point down the line.

More news as we get it.

No new Happy Valley until ‘end of 2018 at the earliest’

It’s been a bumper news day for Sarah Lancashire fans. This morning we carried a story that the award-winning actress is set to appear in Tom Rob Smith’s MotherFatherSon, and now we get an update on the much-anticipated third series of Happy Valley.

Radio Times reports that Executive Producer, Nicola Shindler, spoke at a Broadcasting Press Guild event this week.

“We are working on a new idea for Sally for BBC1 which will be next year so the earliest Happy Valley would be would be towards the end of 2018, I would suspect.

“She won’t write the [Happy Valley] scripts for some time but Sally’s determined to do it, Sarah’s determined to do it.”

Shindler suggested that the third series of Happy Valley would need to wait to allow the character of Ryan to grow up. The young son of Catherine’s daughter was conceived by a rape perpetrated by the chief villain Royce, played by James Norton.

“Sally is thinking about a story and the story she is thinking about literally needs time. Because if you look at the characters that are left, there is Sarah, there is James Norton and there is a young boy, who the minute he turns into a teenager it becomes a much more interesting story.

“She doesn’t know what the story is yet. She is mulling it in her head but we are thinking about giving it a bit of space in story terms.”

This all sounds to us that RED Productions and Sally Wainwright will have to get their skates on if anything’s going to happen in 2018. What’s far more likely, in our opinion, is that production will start by the end of the year and the series will air in early 2019.

Still, watch this space – it’s good to hear that both Wainwright and Lancashire are committed to making this happen.


Happy Valley update: series three likely for 2018

(C) Red Productions – Photographer: Ben Blackall

While it’s a bit of a news day and I’m waiting for carious things to come through on email, I thought I’d take a look and see where some our favourite crime dramas were in terms of making a return. One show that’s been quiet recently is Happy Valley, Sally Wainwright’s superior neo-Western, set in Yorkshire. It’s been fairly quiet on the Catherine Cawood front, but there has been a slight development…

Continue reading Happy Valley update: series three likely for 2018

The Killing Times’ Top 15 Crime Dramas Of The Year 2016: Part 3, 5-1

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 08/03/2016 - Programme Name: Happy Valley series 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 6) - Picture Shows: **EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01 HRS ON TUESDAY 8TH MARCH** Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) - (C) Red Productions - Photographer: Ben Blackall
(C) Red Productions – Photographer: Ben Blackall

Just reading through the first 10 picks in our annual Top 15 Crime Dramas of year, it really hits you just how high the standard has been this year. Already we’ve had some of the heavy hitters of British crime drama, which means – I hope – that our top five is something really special. What makes these final five so special? It’s a subjective business, of course, but for us the very best crime drama manages to infuse a compelling mystery and detection process with stories of the human condition, and we really think this final batch of brilliant series managed to strike that perfect balance between the two. Read on for the top five, but don’t worry – I’ll give you the chance to vote for your favourites tomorrow. Continue reading The Killing Times’ Top 15 Crime Dramas Of The Year 2016: Part 3, 5-1