Happy Valley series 3: The story behind the Yorkshire BBC series starring Sarah Lancashire and where it has been filmed

Following the news that cast and crew have started filming Happy Valley series three in Halifax, here’s the story behind the show.

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley.
Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley.

Sarah Lancashire will return as Sergeant Catherine Cawood for Happy Valley’s third season which was announced by the BBC on October 26. Filming has started in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

The last series aired in 2016 and both season one and two attracted more than 17 million viewers collectively.

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Here is everything you need to know about the TV show.

What is Happy Valley?

Happy Valley is a crime drama filmed and set in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.

The first series debuted on BBC One on April 29, 2014, while the second series started in February two years later.

It’s an acclaimed gritty police drama which follows police officer Catherine Cawood as she navigates the dangerous world of crime in Calderdale.

Who is in the main cast of Happy Valley?

The protagonist of the series is Catherine Cawood, played by Sarah Lancashire who is well known for her recurring Coronation Street role as Raquel Wolstenhulme. She appeared in the soap from 1991 to 1996 and again in 2000.

Malton’s resident actor James Norton will reprise his role as murderer and sex offender, Tommy Lee Royce in the third series.

Catherine’s sister, Clare Cartwright, was a recurring character in the first series and is portrayed by Siobhan Finneran who has also appeared in Coronation Street, Heartbeat, Where The Heart Is and Downton Abbey.

Where in Yorkshire has Happy Valley been filmed?

Filming for the first series began in the Calder Valley in November 2013 and featured locations such as Todmorden, Luddenden, Mytholmroyd, Bradford, Keighly, Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.

Cities that were mentioned in the show include Huddersfield, Halifax, Bradford and Leeds - but they are not filming locations.

The former police station on Station Road, Sowerby Bridge, was also used for some scenes.

The prison scenes in the second series were filmed at Oakham Enterprise Park in Rutland, which used to be Ashwell Prison before it was closed down.

The third and last series is being filmed on Bath Place, Boothtown, Halifax. The filming began on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.

Who created Happy Valley?

The show was created by award-winning television writer, producer and director, Sally Wainwright, from Huddersfield.

Wainright is well known for the HBO and BBC One TV series Gentleman Jack starring Suranne Jones and Anne Lister, ITV drama Scott & Bailey and Last Tango in Halifax.

Sally was raised in Sowerby Bridge where she attended Triangle C of E Primary School and Sowerby Bridge High School before she went on to study English and related literature at the University of York.

Since the age of nine, she had always wanted to write and dreamed of writing for Coronation Street.

Her career as a television writer took off after she worked as a playwright and a script writer for the long-running radio serial drama The Archers.

Following years of success in television writing, directing and producing, Sally created the popular TV show Happy Valley.

The title of the show is the nickname local police in the Calder Valley give to the area due to its drug problem.

In 2014, Happy Valley won a TV Choice Award for Best New Drama; Sarah Lancashire was named Best Actress at the time.

The show was also voted the best TV programme in 2014 by readers of Radio Times and in May 2015, it won a BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series.