The British crime drama isn’t a new genre but Happy Valley offers a fresh take on it in the deceptively bucolic West Yorkshire setting of this gritty series. In Catherine Cawood, series creator Sally Wainwright and star Sarah Lancashire bring perhaps the greatest female lead on television today: a police sergeant who’s always the smartest person in the room, a strong but deeply human divorcée raising her young grandson in the most difficult of circumstances—Ryan was born of a rape that led Catherine’s daughter to commit suicide. Meanwhile, the perpetrator of that crime, Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), lurks menacingly throughout. Even as Happy Valley loads Catherine with many challenges, she remains compassionate and a model of what it means to be a good cop in a community. Happy Valley is a police story and a complex drama about family and community, dealing boldly and unflinchingly with the darkest human behavior while keeping its heart and even a tart sense of humor. For creating a heroic female character unlike any other on television and for its original take on a conventional genre, Happy Valley earns a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Executive Producers: Nicola Shindler, Sally Wainwright, Matthew Read. Producers: Karen Lewis, Juliet Charlesworth. Writer: Sally Wainwright. Talent: Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, Charlie Murphy, James Norton, Shirley Henderson. Directors: Neasa Hardiman, Sally Wainwright.