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Happy Valley creator shares dark reason behind show's name

Happy Valley creator shares dark reason behind show's name

Sally Wainwright explained that the name had a real-world inspiration

Happy Valley is back on our screens at long last - and it's gripping viewers once again.

The crime drama first aired on the BBC back in 2014, with the second season following in 2016, and we're now halfway through the much-anticipated third and final season.

The show centres around the brilliant Sarah Lancashire as Sergeant Catherine Cawood, as she attempts to solve mysteries and avert disasters, both in the line of duty and in her private life.

The show is set in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, and if you've seen it, you'll know there isn't much happiness going on in the valley, what with all the crime, death and betrayal.

But it turns out the name of the show actually had a real-world inspiration.

Wainwright explained the reason behind the name Happy Valley.

The show's writer and director, Sally Wainwright, explained: "So Happy Valley... I always work closely with police advisors, who are old police officers who have worked in the area, and one of them told me that is what they call the Valley because of issues with drugs.

"For me it reflected the show. It's dark, but it has also got a lot of humour in it. I think less so in season one, more so in season two.

"We want to continue that in the new season. It's still very much about the dark side of life, but it's also about how within that people always find ways of being funny and warm and human."

She said this balance is largely struck through Catherine, and the superb performances of Lancashire.

"Balancing the dark and the light is usually done through the character of Catherine because she is so nice to write for," Wainwright said.

"She is a fantastic character to write for, she has got a lot to her. The show is kind of a portrait of Catherine, a portrait of what she has gone through in life and what she is now, the kind of person she is now.

"And obviously I know I am writing for Sarah. Nothing will be wasted, she will get everything. She'll push everything in the right way. She will get the humour across. I think that balance is encapsulated in that character."

Indeed, Wainwright insisted that it is not a police show at all; rather, it's a show about Catherine.

Lancashire is brilliant as Catherine.

As for why it's so popular, she said: "It's odd with Happy Valley, so many people talk about it in such a way that I do now believe it's pretty good.

"I did ask someone the other day, 'what is it that you think?', and she said 'the characters and the performances and the stories'.

"You know the truth is it's just an alchemy, just an alchemy that some shows somehow manage to press buttons with people. I guess it's just one of those. You kind of hit a patch of gold, a seam of gold in it somehow."

She continued: "It does always seem to capture people's imaginations when you are writing about things that are on the wrong side of the law.

"It's about transgressive behaviour and I suppose humans are fascinated by transgressive behaviour. I guess that's why people are so fascinated by crime.

"It's a kind of vicarious thing, that we don't indulge in ourselves but like to watch other people doing it, or we like to see them get caught, or we like to follow the people who sort things out."

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: TV and Film