Sarah Lancashire stars as Catherine Cawood, a police officer whose professionalism masks a personal tragedy – the suicide of her daughter who'd been raped by psychopathic Tommy Lee Royce (Grantchester's James Norton).
Sarah Lancashire in series 2 of Happy Valley (Red Productions/BBC)Ryan Cawood (Rhys Connah), the child born as a result of the assault, has been the catalyst for much of the twisted plot developments in this second series.
In tonight’s finale, Catherine discovers a scene of carnage. Meanwhile, detectives begin to suspect that the person who killed Vicky Fleming (Amelia Bullmore) could be someone on the team.
James Norton in series 2 of Happy Valley (Red Productions/BBC)Last Tango In Halifax’s Sally Wainwright has once again written one of the best British dramas of the year. Here are five reasons we'll miss seeing police sergeant Sarah striding up and down Yorkshire.
1. Catherine is a woman for our times
Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood (Red Productions/BBC)Catherine is not only the glue holding her broken family together, she’s also the character who joins all the strands in Happy Valley. Whether she's scolding ASBO youths, dealing with drug-addicted residents or wishing hell on Tommy, Catherine is always believable as a woman living on the very edge as she copes with her bereavement and its devastating consequences.
2. Sarah Lancashire is phenomenal
Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley (Ben Blackall/BBC/Red Productions)Sally Wainwright wrote the part with the ex-Coronation Street actress in mind – and she has repaid that faith in spectacular fashion yet again. Who else but Sarah could inject such painful conviction into every frame of her performance?
3. Happy Valley 2 was every bit as good as Happy Valley 1
Happy Valley scooped the Bafta for Best Drama Series (Ian West/PA)Kudos to writer Sally for taking the follow-up to her hugely successful first series in an entirely credible direction. She crafted a tense and layered second series oozing human frailty and gasp-out-loud moments. In the wrong hands, it would have been merely an excuse to spin out more from a story that revolved around a kidnap and ransom in 2014.
4. Who isn’t in Happy Valley?
Happy Valley’s Siobhan Finneran (Ben Blackall/BBC/Red Productions)Once again, the BBC series has boasted a wonderful ensemble cast. Former Corrie stars Katherine Kelly and Julie Hesmondhalgh as a detective and a wronged wife respectively. The previously mentioned Amelia as a vengeful mistress and Harry Potter's Shirley Henderson as the creepiest teacher in the world.
Finally, a word for Downton Abbey duo Siobhan Finneran and Kevin Doyle because as Catherine's sister Clare, Siobhan has turned in a superb performance. As for Kevin’s portrayal of a murdering, cheating detective, we'll never look at dear Mr Molesley the same way again.
5. Phwoar! at James Norton
James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce in series two of Happy Valley (Red Productions/BBC)Yes, he’s eye candy. But he’s also a top-notch actor as his jaw-dropping portrayal of evil Tommy demonstrates.
Catch the finale of Happy Valley tonight (Tuesday, March 15) at 9pm on BBC1