Empire (UK)






This 2009 three-parter from Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright feels in retrospect like a bit of a dry run for that series, sharing as it does many of the same thematic concerns, as well as its Halifax setting. Suranne Jones plays Ruth Slater, newly released from prison having served time for killing two police officers when she was a teenager. She tries to find her sister, who was adopted soon after Slater’s conviction, but faces the anger and vengeful attacks of the locals who know her story. Also starring Happy Valley’s Siobhan Finneran in a key role, Unforgiven is thrilling yet thoughtful at the same time.



While Sarah Lancashire — Happy Valley’s

Catherine Cawood — is superb in every show in which she’s appeared, her take on US TV chef Julia Child in this HBO Max series from last year proves how extraordin­arily versatile she is. Her version of Child (played by Meryl Streep in movie Julie & Julia) is as disarmingl­y light and charming as Sergeant Cawood is scarily intense. A second season of this delightful show is on the way.



TV snobs might have dismissed this “Cagney & Lacey of Manchester” when it aired over five series from 2011 to 2016, but it showcases some of Sally Wainwright’s most powerful writing. The idea of a British drama centred on two no-nonsense female detectives came from actors Suranne Jones and Sally Lindsay (who only features in a supporting role, with Lesley Sharp cast opposite Jones), then was taken to Wainwright to flesh out. She wrote 19 episodes, the result one of the most authentic and involving of UK cop shows.



James Norton’s performanc­e as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley turned him into one of the all-time great TV psychopath­s. In the break between series two and three, Norton took on the similarly charismati­c role of investment banker Alex Goldman in this ambitious eightparte­r. Goldman starts out as a slick but essentiall­y upstanding British citizen, but when his family connection­s to the Russian Mafia start to impinge on his life, his moral compass gets increasing­ly wayward. It’s this series which led to speculatio­n linking Norton with the role of James Bond, which makes total sense when you watch him in his suit grappling with Russian heavies. HAPPY VALLEY IS OUT NOW ON BBC IPLAYER

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