Two dra­mas, one night

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Sun­day nights are set to get a lot more in­ter­est­ing with two cracking dra­mas kick­ing off this week­end. Bri­tish se­ries, Happy Val­ley (Sun­day, 8.30pm, TV One) stars Susan Lan­cashire as mid­dle-aged cop Cather­ine Ca­wood. It’s ap­par­ent from the off that Happy Val­ley is any­thing but as we see Cather­ine try­ing to talk sense into a jilted drug ad­dict who’s threat­en­ing to set him­self alight.

It’s a clever start. It tells us this is not pic­ture-book north­ern Eng­land with rolling green hills and cheery lo­cals. And it also gives us a full bio on Cather­ine as she in­tro­duces her­self to the hap­less, petrol-wield­ing youth.

‘‘I’m Cather­ine . . .I’m 47, I’m di­vorced, I live with my sis­ter who’s a re­cov­er­ing heroin ad­dict, I’ve two grown-up chil­dren, one dead, one who doesn’t speak to me and a grand­son . . .’.

‘‘Why, why doesn’t he speak to you?’’ asks the youth

‘‘It’s com­pli­cated. Let’s talk about you,’’ comes the re­sponse.

There’s a bit of hu­mour in that di­a­logue, es­pe­cially when it’s done with Cather­ine’s no-non­sense de­liv­ery. It re­ally warms you to her character and Lan­cashire looks set to put in a great per­for­mance. But it quickly be­comes ap­par­ent that this is no drama light about sto­ical north­ern­ers with quick quips.

And when an em­bit­tered em­ployee de­cides to take re­venge on his wealthy boss, lives in the small com­mu­nity col­lide and we’re im­mersed into a world of jeal­ousy, greed and some dark hearts. There’s drug deal­ing, kid­nap­ping and the con­stant loom­ing spec­tre of drug ad­dic­tion. This is an un­re­lent­ingly grim but grip­ping drama. You won’t want to switch off.

In trail­ers, Happy Val­ley has been likened to Broad­church. Yet it’s new Aus­tralian drama Se­crets and Lies (starts Sun­day, 9.40pm, TV One) that strikes me as more Broad­church- y, at least in plot terms.

Set in Bris­bane, this se­ries re­volves around the dis­cov­ery of a dead boy in a for­est at the end of a sub­ur­ban street.

House painter and all-round nor­mal seem­ing fam­ily guy, Ben Gun­delach (Martin Hen­der­son) dis­cov­ers the body when he’s out run­ning. This makes for a sur­pris­ingly cliched open­ing scene of him run­ning through a for­est scream­ing for help.

Any­way, it turns out Ben is pretty un­lucky be­cause soon he’s the main sus­pect in the boy’s mur­der.

No more cheery greet­ings for him on this friendly sub­ur­ban street. Neigh­bours are soon shun­ning him and leav­ing notes ask­ing for the re­turn of their loaned power tools. All of this for rea­sons that re­main stub­bornly un­clear in this first episode. Are his neigh­bours just su­per judg­men­tal? Or do they know some­thing we don’t?

It’s beau­ti­fully filmed and Hen­der­son is great as the be­lea­guered house painter. When the fin­ger of sus­pi­cion falls on him, you find your­self watch­ing ev­ery lit­tle de­tail, lis­ten­ing to ev­ery word of di­a­logue, try­ing to make up your mind if you think he’s guilty as well.

This is tightly writ­ten and it’s a slow-boil plot. Don’t ex­pect any quick grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

Start watch­ing and you’ll have to stick with it for the du­ra­tion.

No non­sense: Happy Val­ley’s Cather­ine Ca­wood (Susan Lan­cashire).

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