Happy Valley

Tom Wrathmell: Our Friend Across The Regions

Tom Wrathmell poses in front of the camera

Over the past year or so I’m sure many of you reading this have enjoyed the likes of Blue Lights, The Responder, Happy Valley and The Way. All huge BBC dramas. They have something else in common – they’re rooted in towns and cities across the UK.

This is no accident. In March 2021, we laid out our “Across the UK” blueprint for the BBC’s biggest transformation in decades, designed to move more of our programming and decision-making across the UK. The goal: to bring us closer to our audiences.

Happy Valley goes nap at the RTS Yorkshire Awards

The third and final series, made by Lookout Point TV and shot in the Calder Valley, also nabbed awards for Professional Excellence: Post-production and Professional Excellence: Drama and Comedy Production.

A deeply moving programme about former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Rob Burrow, who has motor neurone disease, was a double winner on the night. He was the subject of BBC Breakfast’s Rob Burrow: Living with MND, which won the News or Current Affairs Story and Single Documentary awards.

Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright returns with a new female led BBC drama

Sally Wainwright

Hot Flush focuses on the lives of five women in the band as they deal with demanding jobs, dependant parents, adult children, disappointing husbands and the menopause. The group soon discovers they have more to say than they ever imagined, and the band becomes the perfect vehicle for their voices to be heard, as well as a catalyst for change in their lives.

As the women’s lives become intertwined, Kitty and Beth, the two unlikely creators of the band, realise they are connected by more than their love of music as a long-buried secret threatens to tear everything apart.

From Happy Valley to Better: TV's love affair with Yorkshire

Eighteen months ago, like James Herriot dolloping piccalilli on to Farmer Horner’s swiftly replenished plates of fat bacon, television decided that you can have too much of a good thing.

At the 2021 Edinburgh TV Festival, Channel 5 commissioning editor Daniel Pearl declared that he wouldn’t make “another programme about Yorkshire”. Ben Frow, the broadcaster’s content supremo, has recently followed that by announcing a reality-heavy slate, replete with a Tim Peake-fronted show exploring space.

Ear Candy: Obsessed with…Happy Valley

Obsessed with… Happy Valley podcast (credit: BBC)

As Sally Wainwright’s masterful Yorkshire noir approaches the end of its third and final series – and Sarah Lancashire’s heroic Sergeant Catherine Cawood her long overdue retirement – it’s worth savouring every episode.

Obsessed with... Happy Valley is the BBC’s companion podcast, in which comedians Amy Gledhill and Isy Suttie discuss the drama episode by episode. From the start, Wainwright begins to weave several narrative strands, so there is plenty to pore over.

Happy Valley: A cop on the edge

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley (credit: BBC)

Human bones, a barrel, the bottom of a reservoir. As far as bleak British crime dramas go, this seems like a textbook set-up.

Thank goodness, then, that the uniformed officer trudging through the mud to identify the dismembered body is Sergeant Catherine Cawood, played by the endlessly watchable Sarah Lancashire and a sign that what we’re about to embark on could not be further from a formulaic police procedural.

Our Friend in Yorkshire: Lisa Holdsworth

Lisa Holdsworth (credit: The Haworth Agency)

If you look at the schedules, it would be reasonable to assume that everyone in Yorkshire goes about their day-to-day life followed by a camera crew. It seems we have every profession covered, including vets, farmers, midwives, shepherdesses, auctioneers and airport workers.

In addition, Yorkshire continues to inspire writers like me to write shows such as Gentleman Jack, Ackley Bridge, Hullraisers, Happy Valley and, of course, Emmerdale, which recently celebrated 50 years of being filmed in the region.

New images of Sarah Lancashire and cast of Happy Valley hint at violent justice in series three

Happy Valley last aired in 2016, and speaking to Radio Times earlier this year, Sally Wainwright confirmed that the new series will jump time accordingly, taking place seven years after the events of the last.

In one image, Sarah Lancashire can be seen making her final outing as Sergeant Catherine Cawood, sporting a bloody nose after a police raid.

James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce (credit: BBC)