Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley. Photograph: Matt Squire/BBC/Lookout Point
As one of the finest TV dramas of the 21st century prepares for its last ever series, we spoke to its stars and creator Sally Wainwright about brutality, sisterhood – and looking like Jesus
‘I’m just becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be,” says Sarah Lancashire’s character, police officer Sgt Catherine Cawood, in the comeback episode of Happy Valley. “I don’t take shit off anyone any more. I say it like it is, I know who I am. Finally.”
After nearly seven years away, one of the best TV dramas of the 21st century is back. Sally Wainwright’s crime thriller, family saga and state-of-the-nation address all in one is returning to BBC One for its third and unequivocally final season. The first two series of the heroic Sgt Cawood’s attempt to clean up the streets of Hebden Bridge while keeping her troubled personal life on track saw it win big at the Baftas – largely thanks to Wainwright’s genius for blending humour with a gut-punch portrayal of how drugs and poverty have ravaged a West Yorkshire town. It has earned cult status and critical acclaim in the US too, making Lancashire a star. One of last year’s biggest shows, Mare of Easttown, was a small-town crime saga so heavily influenced by Happy Valley it was almost a remake.