Television: Yorkshire's dark side provides gripping viewing

By Lin Ferguson

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SERIOUSLY GOOD TELEVISION: Sarah Lancashire's Catherine Cawood is just one of the gems of Happy Valley.
SERIOUSLY GOOD TELEVISION: Sarah Lancashire's Catherine Cawood is just one of the gems of Happy Valley.

IT WAS an impressive, gripping, brilliant, breath-holding crime drama.

It got me real good.

From the opening scene of Happy Valley (pre title credits, intro music and all the bells and whistles) police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and sister Claire (Siobhan Finneran) are sitting chatting.

Leaning back smoking, legs sprawled and relaxed, Catherine is musing over recent events at work involving rotten "lowlifes" from a council estate who had been rustling sheep. The two are enjoying watery sunshine in a

tiny paved garden in front of

their house, an attached house in

a long bleak West Yorkshire street.

There was no action just Catherine murmuring, Claire nodding and a quick close-up of flowers but you sense very quickly we're in grim territory, it's a bleak, corrupt neighbourhood.

In a flash the title runs and haunting Appalachian mountain style music twangs, bringing with it the sense of ugly crime and discord at the heart of this series.

Goosebumps rising we are immediately drawn, riveted and won over with this incredible series.

Happy Valley (TV1, Monday) is from Sally Wainwright, an award winning British television writer and playwright from Huddersfield.

She is a superb writer, her plotlines tough and uncompromising.

She reminds me of that other great Brit crime writer Lynda La Plante from Liverpool and her series Prime Suspect starring Helen Mirren.

These Brits are extraordinary. Their tele series are wonderful from their writers, directors, production crews and utterly extraordinary actors.

I'll stick first with the wonderful resigned character of Catherine - seriously, Lancashire is a huge talent and the hideous villain Tommy Lee Royce played by James Norton.

I'm still coming to grips with Norton being the vicar in the series Grantchester. Wow!

This is the second series of Happy Valley but absolutely nothing would have you thinking "no not this stuff again".

An American reviewer for The Hollywood Reporter after watching the first series said he didn't think he'd cope with the second.

" ... partly because I didn't think it was doing anything original and also because, as someone who loves and mostly understands a good accent, there were stretches where I had no idea what people were saying to each other; it was like listening to a radio going in and out."

Well (heaving sigh) I am suspended in disbelief.

This is a six-part series with the last three episodes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

I feel a bit like the kid in the back seat of the car constantly harping "are we there yet?"

I know we should savour what we've seen but Monday seems along way off.

SIGH. (Probably to be continued ... )

- Wanganui Chronicle

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