Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Arts

Happy Talk

Happy Valley is back and Hannah Dunleavy will be reviewing all the episodes. Here, she finds a series not afraid to tackle the big issues, like who was it first thought tuna went with sweetcorn?

Sarah Lancashire as police sergeant Catherine Cawood. Photo: Ben Blackall/Red Productions.

Sarah Lancashire as police sergeant Catherine Cawood. Photo: Ben Blackall/Red Productions.

I’m going to put my hand up and say when the final credits ran on the end of Happy Valley series one and a voice popped up to inform me about season two, I had a little moment of doubt. Why not, I thought, leave it be, as a prime example of a terrific self-contained, single-story drama? Why fuck with perfection?

I was wrong, or at least it looks that way, because series two has powered back onto the telly and removed any doubt that Sally Wainwright is the best TV writer this country’s got.

Here’s where things stand so far:

Catherine and the old gang

Oh Sgt Cawood, how do I love thee? From now on, I’m going to reassess my own bad days in honour of your fortitude. Is this really a bad day? Have I put a sheep out of its misery with a brick? Have I smelled a corpse? Have I been accused of murder? Am I trying to mentor a recent victim of almost unthinkable trauma in her new job as her mother lies in a hospice dying? Is Shirley Henderson staring with intent through the window? No? Then pull it together woman.

Great, great stuff from Sarah Lancashire, especially in that scene where she repeatedly struggled to use the word ‘father’ to describe Tommy Lee Royce’s relationship with her grandson.

“The omnipresent James Norton gave as fine a display of neck acting as I’ve seen in many a year, especially in that scene with his new friend Frances Drummond, who manages to make her own name sound sinister.”

Things are, at least temporarily, looking up for Clare as a lad who she once snogged in a bus stop comes back into her life. It’s the single woman’s dream. He’s obviously hiding something – anger issues/addiction/building society fraud or, this being Happy Valley, a corpse – but let’s be as pleased as we can for her for now, eh?

Not so good for Daniel, who’s on the sofa for reasons I’m sure will become clear.

Not such great news either for the Gallaghers, although Anne’s doing alright as “plastic police” and can sniff out an affair at 20 paces, which will stand her in good stead for the rest of her life.

The new ones

Well, you see the names Amelia Bullmore and Shirley Henderson in the credits and it’s hard not to get excited, but what a whole pile of batshit wonderful that was.

We’ll start with Bullmore, who is so talented I’ve not the time to get into it. She completely nailed that barely-under-wraps cuckoo we knew was coming. Credit also to Kevin Doyle for establishing within seconds what kind of man John the Unfaithful was. One of the many, many things Happy Valley does well is to place the extraordinary among the ordinary. And if there’s a man going to let an affair spiral into Rohypnol territory, it’s this twat.

Meanwhile, the omnipresent James Norton gave as fine a display of neck acting as I’ve seen in many a year, especially in that scene with his new friend Frances Drummond, who manages to make her own name sound sinister. Jittery, off-kilter types are a speciality for Henderson so I’ve every hope for where this is going. And by hope, I mean face-clawing anxiety.

Also new to proceedings are some harassed sheep farmers (that’s going somewhere, surely?) and shite van man. Oh, and there’s a serial killer on the loose, who may or may not be any of the aforementioned people.

Let me just say some more stuff about Sally Wainwright

Seriously, what writing this is. Fast-moving, great dialogue, great roles for women over 40 and a family kitchen so warm you could toast stuff on it. Welcome back Happy Valley. Until next week.

@funnypunts

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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.