Happy Valley (TV series)

Happy Valley
Happy Valley title card
Genre Crime drama
Created by Sally Wainwright
Written by Sally Wainwright
Directed by
Opening theme Trouble Town
Ending theme Trouble Town
Composer(s) Ben Foster
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 12 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Karen Lewis (series 1)
  • Juliet Charlesworth (series 2)
Location(s) Calder Valley
(Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Heptonstall, Todmorden)
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Red Production Company
Original network
Picture format 16:9 1080i
Original release 29 April 2014 (2014-04-29) – present
External links
Production website

Happy Valley is a British crime drama television series filmed and set in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire in Northern England. The series, starring Sarah Lancashire and Siobhan Finneran, is written and created by Sally Wainwright, and directed by Wainwright, Euros Lyn, and Tim Fywell. The first series debuted on BBC One on 29 April 2014, and the second series debuted on 9 February 2016. Wainwright has said that she would like to write a third series, but is busy with other commitments for the time being.[1] Sarah Lancashire has said that she would not return for a third series, but a spokesman for the show later reported that after discussions with Wainwright, Lancashire was "very keen" on a third series.[2]


Series Episodes Originally aired Ave. UK viewers
(in millions)[3]
First aired Last aired
1 6 29 April 2014 3 June 2014 8.21
2 6 9 February 2016 15 March 2016 9.37

Series 1

Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is a strong-willed police sergeant in West Yorkshire, still coming to terms with the suicide of her daughter, Becky, eight years earlier. Cawood is now divorced from her husband and living with her sister, Clare (Siobhan Finneran), a recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, who is helping her bring up Becky's young son, Ryan (Rhys Connah), the product of rape. Neither Catherine's ex-husband nor their adult son, Daniel, wants anything to do with Ryan. Catherine hears that Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), the man responsible for the brutal rape that impregnated Becky and drove her to suicide shortly after Ryan was born, is out of prison after serving eight years for drug charges. Catherine soon becomes obsessed with finding Royce, unaware that he is involved in the kidnapping of Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), a plot instigated by Kevin Weatherill (Steve Pemberton) and orchestrated by Ashley Cowgill (Joe Armstrong). Things quickly take a dark turn as the abductors scramble to keep the kidnapping secret, although Catherine is onto them.

Series 2

Eighteen months after the events of the first series, Catherine is back at work and has won the Queen's Police Medal (QPM) for gallantry, for rescuing Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy) from Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), who is serving a life sentence in prison. But when Royce's mother is killed, Catherine finds herself implicated in a string of murders. While trying to prove her innocence, Catherine is tasked with investigating a human trafficking operation linked to the serial killings. Meanwhile, senior HMIT officers Detective Superintendent Andy Shepard (Vincent Franklin) and Detective Inspector Jodie Shackleton (Katherine Kelly) begin to suspect that the supposed fourth victim of the serial killer, Victoria Fleming (Amelia Bullmore), was in fact murdered by someone else. Gradually their investigation starts to lead them towards Victoria's actual killer – a police detective, John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle), whom Fleming had been blackmailing. Catherine's grandson, Ryan, develops a friendship with a new teaching assistant, Miss Wealand (Shirley Henderson), who is in reality a prison groupie obsessed with Royce. Royce, whom the court has forbidden from having any contact with Ryan, is using Wealand to try to build a relationship with his son and to get revenge on Catherine. Ryan increasingly alarms his family by asking questions about his father and even suggests his father should be forgiven.



On 22 November 2012, Ben Stephenson announced the commissioning of Happy Valley for BBC One. The programme was written by Sally Wainwright, produced by Karen Lewis, and directed by Euros Lyn, Sally Wainwright, and Tim Fywell.[4][5]

Filming began in the Calder Valley in November 2013.[6][7] Locations in the area included Todmorden, Luddenden, Mytholmroyd, Bradford, Keighley, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge, and Heptonstall. Huddersfield, Halifax, Bradford, Leeds, and other West Yorkshire cities are mentioned, though not main filming locations. A former West Yorkshire police station was used for some scenes, and additional filming took place at North Light Film Studios at Brookes Mill, Huddersfield.[8]

The name "Happy Valley" is what local police in the Calder Valley call the area because of its drug problem.[9]

In the series one premiere episode, Ryan points out to Catherine, who is visiting her daughter Becky's grave in the next row, that visitors have left pens at Sylvia Plath Hughes' grave.

A second series was commissioned on 18 August 2014. Filming began in August 2015, and the first episode was broadcast on 9 February 2016.[10] The second series was written by Wainwright, produced by Lewis, and directed by Lyn and Wainwright.[11] Catherine's workplace is a former police station in Sowerby Bridge, and her home and local pub (two other main filming locations) are based in Hebden Bridge. The prison scenes were filmed at Oakham Enterprise Park in Rutland, which was Ashwell Prison until its closure.


The first episode aired on 29 April 2014 at 21:00. It garnered 8.64 million viewers, and it was the second most watched show of the week (commencing 28 April 2014) for BBC One.[12] The BBC reported that the show received an average consolidated audience of 8.21 million viewers, over six episodes, and an additional 8.1 million requests for the show on BBC iPlayer.[13] Radio Times called Happy Valley a "word-of-mouth hit" which "steadily became a success outside the normal audience for the slot and channel."[14]

After "Episode 1" aired, Ofcom received four complaints under the category "violence and dangerous behaviour", but they did not pursue the matter.[15]

Reviews from the media have been overwhelmingly positive, and the show has received 100% rating critic review on Rotten Tomatoes.[16] However, some reviewers have criticised the show for its graphic content, especially in "Episode 3" and "Episode 4". The Daily Mail's TV correspondent Alasdair Glennie questioned whether or not the BBC went "too far" in "Episode 4" with the brutal attack on police sergeant Cawood and the murder of one of her officers. The Daily Mail claimed that the BBC had received "15 complaints about ["Episode 4"], which aired between 9pm and 10pm after the watershed, while 45 viewers contacted the [BBC] corporation to say how much they enjoyed the show." Vivienne Pattison, a campaigner for stronger television regulations and a part of Mediawatch-uk, declared that the violence "is part of a worrying trend in TV drama."[17]

In response to the criticism, Happy Valley's creator-writer, Wainwright, defended the show as "a quality, well-written drama" and stated, "Judging by the amount of email, texts, tweets I've had, I don't think anyone is asking me to apologise."[18] In an interview with Radio Times, Wainwright said the level of violence had been carefully considered and it was done responsibly, by showing the psychological and physical damage suffered by Catherine.[19]

Other critics have praised the show. Vicky Frost of The Guardian wrote: "To get hung up on the violence of this BBC1 kidnap drama misses the point. It is beautifully written by Sally Wainwright, draws an astonishing performance from Sarah Lancashire—and between them, they have created something truly unmissable."[20] Another Daily Mail TV correspondent, Christopher Stevens, rated "Episode 4" with 5/5 stars, saying that "every instalment has been unmissable" and "BAFTA bosses might as well get next year's trophy inscribed now" for star Sarah Lancashire.[21] Gerard O'Donovan of The Telegraph called Happy Valley "complex, thrilling and brilliantly written and acted", and "one of the best watches of 2014."[22]


Country Channel
Finland Yle TV1
Norway NRK
Sweden SVT1
Netherlands Netflix
France Canal+
Italy Netflix
Poland Ale Kino+
United States Netflix
Germany WDR
Republic of Ireland RTÉ

Awards and nominations

Association Category Nominee(s) Result
BAFTA Television Awards Best Leading Actress Sarah Lancashire Nominated
Best Supporting Actor James Norton Nominated
Best Drama Series Happy Valley Won
BAFTA Television Craft Awards Best Director: Fiction Euros Lyn Nominated
Best Writer: Drama Sally Wainwright Won
Banff Rockie Awards Best Procedural Drama Happy Valley Pending
Broadcast Awards Best Drama Series or Serial Happy Valley Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Actress Sarah Lancashire Nominated
Best Drama Series Happy Valley Nominated
Breakthrough Award James Norton Nominated
Writer's Award Sally Wainwright Won
Crime Thriller Awards Best TV Drama Happy Valley Won
Best Leading Actor Steve Pemberton Nominated
Best Leading Actress Sarah Lancashire Nominated
Best Supporting Actor James Norton Won
Edgar Awards Best Television Episode Teleplay Sally Wainwright ("Episode 1") Won
Monte-Carlo Television Festival Outstanding Drama Series Happy Valley Pending[24]
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Sarah Lancashire Pending[24]
National Television Awards Best Drama Performance Sarah Lancashire Nominated[25]
RTS Programme Awards Best Actor (Female) Sarah Lancashire Won[26]
Best Drama Series Happy Valley Nominated[27]
Best Writer: Drama Sally Wainwright Nominated[27]
Best Editing: Drama Jamie Pearson Nominated[27]
RTS North-West Awards Best Single Drama or Drama Series Happy Valley Nominated
Best Performance in a Single Drama or Drama Series (Male) Steve Pemberton Nominated
Best Performance in a Single Drama or Drama Series (Female) Sarah Lancashire Won
Best Script Writer Sally Wainwright Nominated
Best Production (Craft) Red Production Company Nominated
Best Post-Production (Craft) 'production team' ("Episode 4") Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Mini-Series Made for Television Happy Valley Nominated[28]
Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Sarah Lancashire Nominated[28]
South Bank Sky Arts Awards Best TV Drama Happy Valley Pending
TV Choice Awards Best New Drama Happy Valley Won[29]
Best Actress Sarah Lancashire Won[29]
Writer's Guild of Great Britain Awards Best TV Drama - Long Form Sally Wainwright Won

Home media

BBC Shop released Happy Valley series one on DVD, in regions two and four, on 16 June 2014. The DVD includes two discs, featuring 351 minutes worth of footage, and has an age certificate of 15.[30] All six episodes of the series were released on iTunes, both in standard and high definition.[31]

On 20 August 2014, the series was further released on Netflix in Canada and the USA, marketed as a "Netflix Original".[32]

In the summer of 2016 Series 1 of Happy Valley was released on Netflix in the UK and is currently repeated on the channel 'W'.


  1. "Happy Valley writer 'needs time' to create third series". BBC News. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  2. "Happy Valley's Sarah Lancashire confirmed to be very keen on series 3". Mirror Online. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  3. Series 1 based on 7 day data. Series 2 based on 28 day data.
  4. Eames, Tom (11 December 2013). "Sarah Lancashire, Steve Pemberton for BBC One thriller Happy Valley". Digital Spy. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  5. "Happy Valley - New drama for BBC One starring Sarah Lancashire and James Norton". BBC. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  6. Rees, Caroline (3 November 2013). "Sally Wainwright: not the same old". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  7. Bremner, Jade (11 December 2013). "Last Tango in Halifax actress Sarah Lancashire begins shooting new crime drama in Yorkshire". Radio Times. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  8. "Creative England provides filming location and crew support to new BBC drama Happy Valley when filming in Yorkshire". Creative England. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  9. "Sarah Lancashire: 'Happy Valley is one of the hardest jobs I've had. It's brutal'". What's On TV. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  10. "Happy Valley series 2 casting". BBC Media Centre. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  11. "Happy Valley Series 2". BBC Media Centre. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  12. "BARB - Weekly Top 10 (28 Apr 2014)". BARB. 4 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  13. "BBC One drama Happy Valley closes with 8.78m viewers". BBC. 12 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  14. Seale, Jack (3 June 2014). "Why Happy Valley is the drama of the year so far". Radio Times. Immediate Media Company Limited. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  15. "Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 254" (PDF). Ofcom. Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. 19 May 2014. p. 68. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  16. "Happy Valley: Season 1".
  17. Glennie, Alasdair (21 May 2014). "Did the BBC's brutal Happy Valley go too far? Viewers shocked by blood-soaked climax to violent TV drama". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  18. Brown, Maggie (25 May 2014). "Happy Valley writer: I don't have to apologise for show's violence". The Guardian/The Observer. Guardian News. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  19. "Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright - I've got plans for a second series". Radio Times. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  20. Frost, Vicky (27 May 2014). "Have you been watching … Happy Valley". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  21. Stevens, Christopher (21 May 2014). "Sorry, Olivia, but you've already been pipped to next year's Bafta: Christopher Stevens reviews last night's TV". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  22. O'Donovan, Gerard (27 May 2014). "Happy Valley, episode 5, review: 'exceptionally well crafted'". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  23. "Bafta TV awards 2015: Nominations in full". BBC. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  24. 1 2 Idato, Michael (21 April 2015). "Australia dramas and actors storm into the Monte Carlo TV Festival". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  25. Jeffrey, Morgan (6 January 2015). "X Factor, Doctor Who, Sherlock nominated in National Television Awards". Digital Spy. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  26. Hemley, Matthew (18 March 2015). "Sarah Lancashire and Tom Hollander win at Royal Television Society Programme Awards". The Stage. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  27. 1 2 3 Walker-Arnott, Ellie (25 February 2015). "Peaky Blinders, Line of Duty and Happy Valley nominated for Royal Television Society awards". Radio Times. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  28. 1 2 "Current Nominees". International Press Academy. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  29. 1 2 Rigby, Sam (8 September 2014). "Sherlock, EastEnders lead winners at TVChoice Awards 2014". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  30. "Happy Valley (DVD)". BBC Worldwide. British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  31. "Happy Valley Series 1 - iTunes". Apple Inc. 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  32. "Happy Valley to premiere exclusively on Netflix in the U.S. and Canada". Netflix. Netflix. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
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