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The gritty drama, once likened to a “British version of The Wire,” is set to film its third and final season in 2022, it has now been confirmed, with Sarah Lancashire set to return as Sergeant Catherine Cawood for six new hourlong episodes. James Norton will also reprise his role of Cawood’s nemesis, the murderer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce, as will Siobhan Finneran, returning as her sister, the recovering addict Clare Cartwright. Further returning castmembers and new additions will be announced in due course.
Despite the returning faces, there are some significant changes behind the camera.
While the first two seasons of Happy Valley were produced by Red Production Company, the StudioCanal-backed banner behind It’s a Sin and originally founded by Nicola Shindler (who recently departed to set up Quay Street Productions), season three will be made by Lookout Point, the production house wholly owned by BBC Studios. Lookout Point, behind the likes of War & Peace and A Suitable Boy, does have solid experience working with Wainwright, however, having produced the BBC/HBO period drama Gentleman Jack.
In the U.S., whereas Netflix originally had exclusive rights to both Happy Valley seasons one and two, AMC has boarded as co-producer and will be the new season’s North American home (joining the first two seasons which are now available on AMC+).
Long teased by Wainwright, the third season will follow Cawood as she discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim, sparking a chain of events that leads her back to Royce. Cawood’s grandson Ryan is now 16 and still living with her, but he has ideas of his own about what kind of relationship he wants to have with the man she refuses to acknowledge as his father. Still battling the seemingly never-ending problem of drugs in the valley and those who supply them, Cawood is on the cusp of retirement.
“I’m delighted to find myself back in the world of Catherine Cawood and her family and colleagues for the final installment of the Happy Valley trilogy,” said Wainwright. “It’s been wonderful to see the lasting impact this series has had on audiences all over the world. I’m thrilled that Sarah, James and Siobhan are back on board for what I hope will be the best season yet, and thrilled once again to be working with the wonderful team at Lookout Point, the BBC and our new colleagues at AMC.”
Added Lancashire, succinctly: “It’s time to let the dog see the rabbit.”
First debuting on BBC One in early 2014, Happy Valley grew to be a smash hit, with season two attracting an average audience of 9.3 million. The first two series each won the BAFTA TV awards for both drama series and writing: drama for Wainwright, with Lancashire winning the BAFTA TV award for leading actress for series two.
“To take on Tommy one final time is a wonderful and daunting privilege and something I’ve been looking forward to since we wrapped the last series, six years ago. I’m so excited to be working with the insanely talented Sally and Sarah again. Thinking we should all go on one last barge holiday, for old times’ sake,” said Norton.
“I’m so thrilled to be returning to Happy Valley as Clare, and delighted to now be able to answer the question: “Please tell me there’s going to be another Happy Valley?” with a resounding “Yes there is,” adding Finneran.
Happy Valley season three was commissioned by Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama, and is a Lookout Point production for the BBC, co-produced with AMC. It was written and created by Wainwright, and will be directed by Patrick Harkins and Fergus O’Brien, with Chris Clough as series producer, and Jessica Taylor as producer. Executive producers are Wainwright and Lancashire, with Faith Penhale and Will Johnston for Lookout Point, and Ben Irving for the BBC. BBC Studios is distributing series three in addition to series one and two.
“When Happy Valley first launched on the BBC in 2014, it changed the landscape of crime drama completely,” said Wenger. “Sally has crafted a magnificent conclusion that is sure to make this third and final series one of television’s most highly anticipated and unmissable moments. Huge thanks go to Sally, Sarah and the Lookout Point team, plus James and Siobhan, for coming together for this special moment, and we’re delighted to welcome AMC on board this final series.”
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