Happy Valley is one of the biggest surprise success stories of British television in recent years. Not only has the show been a major hit for the BBC in the UK, but Sally Wainwright’s Yorkshire noir has made waves across the pond, too, landing with US audiences and receiving unanimous praise from critics there.
With a third season now on the way for the BAFTA-winning show, we decided to gather up some Happy Valley trivia. Here are 10 things you never knew about Happy Valley.
1o. It was written specifically for Sarah Lancashire
Happy Valley creator and writer Sally Wainwright never had anyone other than Sarah Lancashire in mind for the lead role in her crime drama. Wainwright, having worked with Lancashire on Wainwright’s previous series Last Tango in Halifax and being “blown away” by her performance, wrote Happy Valley specifically for Lancashire to star.
9. Lancashire went slightly method for the part
In preparation for playing police officer Catherine Cawood, Sarah Lancashire actually went on ride-alongs with police in the Calderdale, where the show is set, learning the tricks of the trade (including how to correct apply handcuffs). An incident during one ride-along turned into an all-out brawl. Lancashire also stayed in her character’s mindset during the shoot.
8. James Norton did too
Lancashire wasn’t the only Happy Valley star who put in the research for the role. James Norton shadowed a psychologist at Manchester’s Priory, a mental health facility, in order to learn about psychopathy and get into his troubled character’s state of mind.
7. Tommy Lee Royce is posher than you might think
Though James Norton was raised in Yorkshire – Ryedale, specifically, in the North of the county – and uses a spot-on Yorkshire accent as psychopathic antagonist Tommy Lee Royce, the actor is actually posher than you might think. Norton’s real accent is closer to the one he uses in War & Peace and Grantchester.
6. Royce was based on an iconic movie villain
Tommy Lee Royce didn’t just appear in Sally Wainwright’s mind out of nowhere. Norton’s interpretation of Royce is all Yorkshire, but Wainwright’s initial inspiration for the character was the film Cape Fear, and specifically the sociopathic Max Cady, played by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of the film.
5. The name ‘Happy Valley’ has a sinister meaning
Idyllic though it may outwardly appear, Calderdale didn’t get its nickname because of its pleasant views. Local police call it ‘Happy Valley’ because the area is awash with drugs.
4. Sarah Lancashire has never watched the show
Considering all the acclaim the show has received and the many awards it has won, you would expect Happy Valley’s star would be curious to see what all the fuss is about. But apparently not: Sarah Lancashire claims she never watches anything she’s in, and that includes her wildly successful BBC drama.
3. The show’s police advisor is Sally Wainwright’s childhood friend
Sally Wainwright and Happy Valley’s police advisor Lisa Farrand, who marshalled Sarah Lancashire’s performance and remained always on-set to check for inaccuracies, go back a long way. They’ve been friends for decades, having met as children in primary school.
2. Sowerby Bridge police station was entirely recreated on a soundstage for season 2
In season 1 of the show, Happy Valley’s police station is played by the real Sowerby Bridge police station. However, by the time season 2 came to shooting, the officers at the station were so busy with a real long-running investigation that producers on Happy Valley were forced to find a new location. Their solution was just to entirely recreate the station, building a whole new one on a soundstage.
1. Season 3 is due in 2018 (even though it isn’t written yet)
Happy Valley fans: there’s good news and there’s perhaps not-so-good news. According to producers, the show will return for season 3 this year, even though Sally Wainwright has yet to write any scripts. Earlier this year, it was said Wainwright didn’t even “know what the story is yet”.