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I TALK Happy Valley (Series 2)

When you think back to drama in 2014, you think of Happy Valley, the marvellous BBC One drama written by Sally Wainwright and starring Sarah Lancashire.

It's safe to say that Happy Valley was very well received when it aired on BBC One, managing to lure an average of 7.2 million viewers each and every week.

The first series was close to perfection for me, it contained everything I look for in a good drama - a great storyline, great characters and brilliant performances. In fact, Happy Valley was so good, that when a second series was announced, I wasn't sure it was needed.

There's a tendency these days to commission a second series off the back of a highly rating first series. Sometimes, commissioners owe it to the storyline and the characters involved to close the door.

Broadchurch was a perfect example. The first series was held up as one of the best British dramas in year, whilst the second series is regarded by many as one of British dramas worst ever. How the mighty have fallen.

What kept the nation gripped during the first series wasn't there in the second, hence the cold reception it received. Somehow Broadchurch is returning for a third (and thankfully final) series. I must be honest, I'm not holding out much hope for it.

Doctor Foster is another drama which performed brilliantly in the ratings last year and as a result will be returning for a second series. Time will tell with that one of course, but I have my reservations.

The first series of Happy Valley ended with police sergeant Catherine Cawood, played superbly by Sarah Lancashire, coming face-to-face with Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), the man she believes to be responsible for her daughter’s suicide. About to set fire to himself and son Ryan, Catherine manages to rescue her grandson and whilst many were willing her to finish Tommy off, she decided to do the right thing and wait for the police to turn up and take him away.

When series two begins, Catherine is back heading up her team of dedicated officers in West Yorkshire, and Tommy is behind bars. When out solving a case of sheep rustling, Catherine discovers a decomposed body hidden in a garage on a local estate. When another dead body is found, suspicions arise that there’s a serial killer on the loose in Calder Valley.

When Catherine discovers that the body she found decomposed in a garage belongs to someone close to home, it’s not long before she finds herself in the midst of a murder investigation.

Back at home, Catherine’s son Daniel has been shown out of his house so has been taken in by his mother and her sister Clare has rekindled her friendship with Neil, an old friend who has recently moved to the area and works in the local corner shop.

When Tommy Lee Royce is given some very unexpected news, he is distraught and seeks comfort in a mysterious female visitor, Frances Drummond, played by Shirley Henderson.

Judging from the first episode it seems that Frances is a rather lonely character, on the edge of society, looking in and plotting something. Quite what I don't know, but I'm sure as the series progresses her intentions will become clear.

Detective Sergeant John Wadsworth, played by Kevin Doyle, and his wife Amanda, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street) join Happy Valley for series two and John in particular has in own problems to deal with outside of work.

In the first episode we learn that John has been having an affair, and when his girlfriend unexpectedly turns up at the house he shares with his wife and children, he faces a tough decision. As the series goes on we learn that Amanda has been in a difficult marriage for quite some time now, and has secrets of her own.

Also joining, are Detective Superintendent Andy Shepherd, played by Vincent Franklin (Cucumber) and Detective Inspector Jodie Shackleton played by Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge) who have been brought in to head up the hunt for the series killer.

And Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter) joins as Sean Balmforth, an angry man with a dark past and on the slippery road to becoming an alcoholic, a very different, but brilliant role for Matthew. There’s so much more I want to say about the opening episode, but unfortunately I have been told that I can’t reveal certain storyline details.

What I can say though, is that despite my earlier reservations about the series returning, the return has been handled expertly by Sally Wainwright. Unlike Broadchurch, after just one episode of Happy Valley, I have every confidence in Sally Wainwright’s writing that she knows exactly where to take the series next.

With new characters and new storylines, come new tensions, and if the first episode is anything to go by, I have no doubt that for the next six weeks, I will once again be left on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens next.

Happy Valley returns Tuesday 9th February at 9pm on BBC One


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