The return of Happy Valley
The brilliant Happy Valley is set to return for a second series – but is that brilliant news?
Arguably UK television’s best and most gripping crime drama of 2014 came from Scott & Bailey creator Sally Wainwright in the shape of Happy Valley. The Yorkshire-set BBC series was something of a surprise smash, with no one expecting viewing figures of almost 8 million every week. It seems that complex, twisting storylines and fantastic turns from its cast are more than enough of a match for 25,000 rival cable channels and the plethora of available catch-up TV. And it’s coming back for another run next year.
What was quite so surprising about its success was, in part, down to the marketing – or rather, the distinct lack of it. Sure, there were trailers on the BBC and the usual features in magazines and newspapers, but there was no major push. Happy Valley’s success was down to something quite simple and reassuring: word of mouth. Crime dramas this good have to be talked about.
So what was it all about? Well, Happy Valley focused on the headstrong and mulish police sergeant Catherine Cawood as she went about her policing duties in the eponymous Yorkshire Valleys. We quickly discover that she’s mourning the death of her daughter who took her own life after a violent rape. The series follows her investigations into the crime, against the backdrop of her town which has become somewhat of a drug hotspot in West Yorkshire. Shady characters abound, Catherine soon finds herself immersed in a dark underworld, hellbent on revenge. It started enticingly, never let up and signed off with some serious style. It was a tour de force.
Luckily for the many fans of Happy Valley, the BBC wasted no time in commissioning a second series of the gritty drama, with production due to start in early 2015 and an as yet unscheduled air date around this time next year. If you can’t wait that long, you can always pick up the maiden season on DVD as a refresher…
The ending of the debut series wrapped everything up in a nice little bow, though. And while the show could well be as close to a crime masterpiece as the BBC’s ever handled, there is a case to argue that it’s so good it should just be left as six episodes of self-contained, genius TV. A similar case could be made for the return of ITV’s BAFTA-laden Broadchurch. Should these – admittedly brilliant – shows get follow-ups? Or should they be left alone? In place of the second Happy Valley for instance, should we be asking Sally Wainwright to turn her superior writing to an entirely new project? What do you think?
We’ll see next year. Regardless of whether you’ve got reservations about a second series, you have to admit – even if it’s only half as good, that’s still some pretty fine television!