In the TV class last Tuesday we viewed the first episode of the first season of HAPPY VALLEY, people were so taken by the central character Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancaster) they have been viewing the rest of the series since. [The scripts are available to read http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/scripts/happy-valley]
There are lots of elements that make this series so compelling. This is a detective series that is most concerned with relationships and much of the drama plays out in the domestic environment; that’s unusual for a cop series and gives it a unique element. As she tells us “it’s complicated”.
But more than anything the fabulous realisation of Catherine on screen, by writer Sally Wainwright and actor Sarah Lanchasire, as an active character with a rich, deep backstory is the engine of TV drama.
Catherine, although a Sargent (because she is very good at her job) is a lowly community cop. She is dealing in the world of domestic incidents, people setting themselves on fire because of a break-up, a guy who thinks he can climb like Spiderman when he’s off his head etc. Catherine has little authority within the world of policing, but she takes initiative when out on the streets.
Catherine is so relentless in her quest to get Tommy Lee off the streets that one of the participants in the class commented that if she was ever in trouble she would want Catherine on the case. This well motivated relentlessness is what makes us love watching Catherine, we understand her want to nail Tommy Lee. We love watching her pursue him because we know she will leave no lane unchecked, no detail overlooked, and we know she will not shy of breaking the rules of law to do it. We also know that this same relentlessness could be her undoing…
If you haven't seen HAPPY VALLEY, you are in for a two season treat. Watch out for Irish talent on and off screen including actors Charlie Murphy and Susan Lynch (S2) and director Neasa Hardiman.