Happy Valley (TV series)

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. In May 2015, Happy Valley won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series.[1] A third series is planned.[2]

Happy Valley
GenreCrime drama
Created bySally Wainwright
Written bySally Wainwright
Directed by
Opening themeTrouble Town
Ending themeTrouble Town
ComposerBen Foster
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes12 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Karen Lewis (series 1)
  • Juliet Charlesworth (series 2)
Production locationsCalder Valley
(Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Heptonstall, Todmorden)
Running time60 minutes
Production companyRed Production Company
Original network
Picture format16:9 1080i
Original release29 April 2014 (2014-04-29) 
9 February 2016 (9 February 2016)
External links
Production website


Series 1

Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is a strong-willed police sergeant in West Yorkshire, still coming to terms with the suicide of her teenage 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, want 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 on to them.

Series 2

Eighteen months after the events of the first series, Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) 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 murdered by someone else. Gradually their investigation starts to lead them towards Victoria's actual killer: 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 secretly a prison groupie infatuated with Royce. Royce, whom the court has forbidden from having any contact with Ryan, is using Wealand to try to build a relationship with Ryan and get revenge on Catherine. Ryan increasingly concerns his family by asking questions about his father and even suggests Royce should be forgiven.


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



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 police station (Station Road, Sowerby Bridge) 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's 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 main character 'Sergeant Cawood' is mentioned in the third episode of the fifth series of Last Tango in Halifax, which aired on BBC One, 9 March 2020. This series was also created and written by Wainwight, set in Halifax, and also stars Sarah Lancashire.

In October 2020, Wainwright confirmed that there would be a third series and that she was in the "early stages" of writing it.


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".

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."[17] 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.[18]

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."[19] Gerard O'Donovan of The Telegraph called Happy Valley "complex, thrilling and brilliantly written and acted", and "one of the best watches of 2014."[20] In September 2019, The Guardian ranked the show 11th on its list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century, calling it "a corrective to cliché-ridden and frequently blokey police procedurals", and one that "pulsated with poignant realness".[21]


In May 2015, Happy Valley won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series.[22] In 2014, it had won a TV Choice Award for Best New Drama; Sarah Lancashire was named Best Actress at the same time. The series was also voted the best TV programme of 2014 by readers of Radio Times.[23]


AustraliaABC TV
Czech RepublicČT1
FinlandYle TV1
NetherlandsNetflix, BBC First
New ZealandTVNZ
PolandAle Kino+
United States

Awards and nominations

Series One

BAFTA Television AwardsBest Leading ActressSarah LancashireNominated
Best Supporting ActorJames NortonNominated
Best Drama SeriesHappy ValleyWon
BAFTA Television Craft AwardsBest Director: FictionEuros LynNominated
Best Writer: DramaSally WainwrightWon
Banff Rockie AwardsBest Procedural DramaHappy ValleyPending
Broadcast AwardsBest Drama Series or SerialHappy ValleyWon
Broadcasting Press Guild AwardsBest ActressSarah LancashireNominated
Best Drama SeriesHappy ValleyNominated
Breakthrough AwardJames NortonNominated
Writer's AwardSally WainwrightWon
Crime Thriller AwardsBest TV DramaHappy ValleyWon
Best Leading ActorSteve PembertonNominated
Best Leading ActressSarah LancashireNominated
Best Supporting ActorJames NortonWon
Edgar AwardsBest Television Episode TeleplaySally Wainwright ("Episode 1")Won
Monte-Carlo Television FestivalBest Drama SeriesHappy ValleyWon[24]
Best Actress in a Drama SeriesSarah LancashireWon[24]
National Television AwardsBest Drama PerformanceSarah LancashireWon[25]
RTS Programme AwardsBest Actor (Female)Sarah LancashireWon[26]
Best Drama SeriesHappy ValleyNominated[27]
Best Writer: DramaSally WainwrightNominated[27]
Best Editing: DramaJamie PearsonNominated[27]
RTS North-West AwardsBest Single Drama or Drama SeriesHappy ValleyNominated
Best Performance in a Single Drama or Drama Series (Male)Steve PembertonNominated
Best Performance in a Single Drama or Drama Series (Female)Sarah LancashireWon
Best Script WriterSally WainwrightNominated
Best Production (Craft)Red Production CompanyNominated
Best Post-Production (Craft)'production team' ("Episode 4")Nominated
Satellite AwardsBest Mini-Series Made for TelevisionHappy ValleyNominated[28]
Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TelevisionSarah LancashireNominated[28]
South Bank Sky Arts AwardsBest TV DramaHappy ValleyPending
TV Choice AwardsBest New DramaHappy ValleyWon[29]
Best ActressSarah LancashireWon[29]
Writer's Guild of Great Britain AwardsBest TV Drama – Long FormSally WainwrightWon

Series Two

BAFTA Television AwardsBest Leading ActressSarah LancashireWon
Best Supporting ActressSiobhan FinneranNominated
Best Drama SeriesHappy ValleyWon
BAFTA Television Craft AwardsBest Writer: DramaSally WainwrightWon
Broadcast AwardsBest Drama Series or SerialHappy ValleyNominated
Broadcasting Press Guild AwardsBest ActressSarah LancashireNominated
Best ActorJames NortonNominated
Writer's AwardSally WainwrightNominated
Irish Film & Television Academy AwardsBest Supporting Actress in a Television DramaCharlie MurphyNominated
National Television AwardsBest DramaHappy ValleyNominated
Best Drama PerformanceSarah LancashireWon
Peabody AwardsExcellence in Entertainment TelevisionHappy ValleyWon
RTS Programme AwardsBest Drama SeriesHappy ValleyWon
Best Writer: DramaSally WainwrightWon
RTS North-West AwardsBest Single Drama or Drama SeriesHappy ValleyNominated
Best Performance in a Single Drama or Drama Series (Male)Kevin DoyleWon
Best Performance in a Single Drama or Drama Series (Female)Sarah LancashireWon
Best Script WriterSally WainwrightNominated
Best Production (Craft)Red Production CompanyWon
Best Post-Production (Craft)'production team' ("Episode 4")Nominated
Satellite AwardsBest Actress in a Series, Drama/GenreSarah LancashireNominated
TV Choice AwardsBest Drama SeriesHappy ValleyNominated
Best ActressSarah LancashireWon

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] However, it departed Netflix in March 2020. [33]

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. A year later series 2 was released on Netflix in the UK.


  1. "Bafta TV awards 2015: Winners in full". BBC. BBC. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  2. Gordon, Naomi (10 September 2019). "Katherine Kelly gives update on Happy Valley season 3". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  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. 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.
  18. "Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright – I've got plans for a second series". Radio Times. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  19. Frost, Vicky (27 May 2014). "Have you been watching … Happy Valley". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  20. O'Donovan, Gerard (27 May 2014). "Happy Valley, episode 5, review: 'exceptionally well crafted'". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  21. "The 100 best TV shows of the 21st century". The Guardian. 16 September 2019. Archived from the original on 1 November 2019.
  22. "Bafta TV awards 2015: Winners in full". BBC. BBC. 10 May 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  23. Robinson, Samantha (11 May 2015). "Happy Valley scoops Best Drama at 2015 BAFTA TV Awards". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  24. Keslassy, Elsa (18 June 2015). "'The Missing, 'Happy Valley', 'Gomorrah', 'Lilyhammer' Win Monte Carlo TV Fest's Kudos". Variety. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  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. 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. "Current Nominees". International Press Academy. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  29. 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.
  33. "Every Netflix Original Removed from Netflix". What's on Netflix. 9 July 2021.