Happy Valley (BBC-1 2014, Sarah Lancashire, Joe Armstrong)

Crime drama series Happy Valley sees Sergeant Catherine Cawood gets caught up in a bizarre kidnapping case when accountant Kevin Weatherill reveals he has arrange for his boss’s daughter, Anne Gallagher, to be kidnapped in a bid to keep part of the ransom money for his own kids private schooling.

Cawood knows that local drug-lord Ashley Cowgill and drug dealer Tommy Lee Royce (who just happens to be the father of Cawood’s grandson Ryan) are behind the kidnapping but proving it and and finding Anne may not be that easy. Things get incredibly tense as Royce’s true and definitely evil colours are shown leading to a showdown on a canal barge between Catherine and Royce who has kidnapped Ryan.

Season 2 picks up evens some 18 months after season one. Catherine has gone back to work and the evil Tommy Lee Royce is in prison serving a life sentence. When Royce’s mother is murdered it looks as though Catherine may be implicated and faces an uphill battle in trying to clear her name especially when a series of other murders also seem to implicate her. Meanwhile Detective Superintendent Andy Shepard and Detective Inspector Jodie Shackleton are on the trail of the real serial.

James Norton as the distinctly scary Tommy Lee Royce

On the Royce front Catherine’s grandson and Royce’s son Ryan has a new teaching assistant who has an obsession with Royce who uses the information to try and get closer to his son.

Happy Valley, which is what locals refer to the area of Calder Valley as, thanks to it’s drug problems, is a hard hitting series. Brilliantly written by Scott and Bailey creator Sally Wainwright and with stand out performances from Sarah Lancashire and James Norton as the menacing Tommy Lee Royce. A sharp contrast to his role as a gentle 1950’s vicar in ITV’s Grantchester. Amongst the many awards the series notched up was the key BAFTA award of Best Drama for 2015.

A third season is in the works.

production details
UK / BBC One – Red / 12×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 29 April 2014 – 15 March 2016

Writer: Sally Wainwright / Producers: Karen Lewis (series 1), Juliet Charlesworth (series 2) / Theme Music: Trouble Town by Ben Foster / Executive Producers: Nicola Shindler, Sally Wainwright, Matthew Read

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood
Steve Pemberton as Kevin Weatherill
James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce
Joe Armstrong as Ashley Cowgill
Adam Long as Lewis Whippey
George Costigan as Nevison Gallagher
Siobhan Finneran as Clare Cartwright
Sophie Rundle as Kirsten McAskill
Charlie Murphy as Ann Gallagher
Julia Ford as Jenny Weatherill
Jill Baker as Helen Gallagher
Ramon Tikaram as Praveen Badel
Mina Anwar as Mrs Mukherjee

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.