Sarah Lan­cashire makes an ar­rest in Happy Val­ley.

(2en­ter­tain) Out Now

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By JONATHAN WRIGHT

“THE POWER OF HAPPY VAL­LEY LIES IN SALLY WAIN­WRIGHT’S MEM­O­RABLE CHAR­AC­TERS”

It’s easy to think the two se­ries that have ce­mented writer Sally Wain­wright’s rep­u­ta­tion couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. Where Last Tango In Hal­i­fax is largely joy­ful twin­kli­ness, Happy Val­ley is gritty and tough, its tone set by Jake Bugg’s gnarly ‘Trou­ble Town’ theme – to the ex­tent in­deed that it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any­where less happy than Sergeant Cather­ine Ca­wood’s York­shire patch.

But look closer and the dif­fer­ences aren’t as great as they might first ap­pear. This isn’t just down to sim­i­lar set­tings and the pres­ence of Sarah Lan­cashire, it’s be­cause both shows are, in key re­spects, about ex­tended fam­i­lies.

In Last Tango, that’s largely a pos­i­tive. For all that the mar­riage of Alan and Celia causes prob­lems for their near­est and dear­est, it also extends al­ready sup­port­ive fam­ily net­works – net­works ro­bust enough to sup­port a killer in trou­bled Gil­lian. In Happy Val­ley, how­ever, there’s a blood re­la­tion it’s im­pos­si­ble to ac­com­mo­date: so­ciopath Tommy Lee Royce (James Nor­ton), the rapist (spoiler alert for Se­ries 1) Cather­ine blames for her daugh­ter’s death.

This dys­func­tion at the heart of the fam­ily runs through the sec­ond sea­son of Happy Val­ley. It doesn’t just re­veal it­self in Royce’s at­tempts, through his from-be­hind- bars ma­nip­u­la­tion of dam­aged Frances Drum­mond (Shirley Hen­der­son), to get back at Ca­wood and make con­tact with his bi­o­log­i­cal son, her grand­daugh­ter. There’s also the way a mis­guided af­fair rips apart the life of cop­per John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle), and a key plot­line about the lengths to which a mother will go to pro­tect her son.

As th­ese sto­ries in­ter­twine, each gives the other a greater res­o­nance, which in it­self is tes­ti­mony to the bril­liance of Wain­wright’s writ­ing. But the power of Happy Val­ley also lies just as squarely in Wain­wright’s mem­o­rable char­ac­ters – and not just the po­lice pro­ce­dural leads. When Cather­ine’s sis­ter Clare (Siobhan Fin­neran) falls off the wagon, for in­stance, you root for her. Maybe that’s be­cause Wain­wright’s best-loved char­ac­ters have weaved them­selves so deeply into the na­tional con­scious­ness that they’ve started to feel like, well, fam­ily.

The Per­sil act of 2016 had claimed its first of­fend­ers.

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