Sally Wainwright’s BAFTA-winning series — an early British drama success story that sold to broadcasters around the world and landed on Netflix in the U.S. and other key markets — will shoot season 3 in and around West Yorkshire in 2022, the BBC confirmed on Tuesday. While a third, six-episode round of the policing series has always been on the cards, Wainwright’s busy writing schedule has left a considerable gap since season 2 last aired on the BBC in 2016, and the creator was keen to get a next season of HBO-BBC drama “Gentleman Jack” out of the way before tackling season 3.
For its final season, production on “Happy Valley” is changing hands, with BBC Studios-backed Lookout Point taking over from Studiocanal’s Red, a longtime Wainwright collaborator until recent years. Lookout Point will co-produce with AMC Networks, which will be the exclusive home for the show in North America via its AMC+ streaming bundle. BBC Studios will distribute all seasons internationally.
A BAFTA winner for her “Happy Valley” performance, Sarah Lancashire will return to her iconic role of Sergeant Catherine Cawood. Meanwhile, James Norton and Siobhan Finneran will also return as Catherine’s nemesis, the murderer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce, and Catherine’s sister, the recovering addict Clare Cartwright, respectively. The BBC has hinted that other cast members may also return, noting that returners and new additions will be “announced in due course.”
“Happy Valley” first aired on BBC One in 2014, followed by season 2 two years later. The first seasons each won BAFTAs for drama series and writing for drama. The show was critically acclaimed and became a go-to example of specific British storytelling that can travel the globe and resonate with international markets.
In the final season, Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir — an incident that sparks a chain of events that unwittingly leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce. Her 16-year-old grandson Ryan still lives with her, but has ideas of his own about what kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father. Catherine is close to retiring, but a pervasive problem with drugs still haunts the valley.
“I’m delighted to find myself back in the world of Catherine Cawood and her family and colleagues for the final instalment of the ‘Happy Valley’ trilogy,” said Wainwright. “It’s been wonderful to see the lasting impact this series has had on audiences all over the world. I’m thrilled that Sarah, James and Siobhan are back on board for what I hope will be the best season yet, and thrilled once again to be working with the wonderful team at Lookout Point, the BBC and our new colleagues at AMC.”
Lancashire quipped that “it’s time to let the dog see the rabbit.”
Norton, meanwhile, called taking on the Tommy Lee Royce role once more “a wonderful and daunting privilege” that he’s been looking forward to since wrapping season 2 six years ago. “I’m so excited to be working with the insanely talented Sally and Sarah again. Thinking we should all go on one last barge holiday, for old times’ sake,” he added.
Siobhan Finneran said: “I’m so thrilled to be returning to ‘Happy Valley’ as Clare, and delighted to now be able to answer the question: ‘Please tell me there’s going to be another ‘Happy Valley’???’ with a resounding ‘Yes there is.'”
Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama, said: “When ‘Happy Valley’ first launched on the BBC in 2014, it changed the landscape of crime drama completely. Sally has crafted a magnificent conclusion that is sure to make this third and final series one of television’s most highly anticipated and unmissable moments. Huge thanks go to Sally, Sarah and the Lookout Point team, plus James and Siobhan, for coming together for this special moment, and we’re delighted to welcome AMC on board this final series.”
Kristin Jones, executive VP of international programming for AMC Networks, added: “Sally Wainwright’s riveting police series is the perfect addition to AMC+’s ever-widening library of acclaimed and international dramas and we’re looking forward to catching up with the upcoming adventures of Catherine and the other residents of this intriguing town.”
Season 3 will be directed by Patrick Harkins and Fergus O’Brien, with Chris Clough as series producer, and Jessica Taylor as producer. Executive producers are Sally Wainwright and Sarah Lancashire, with Faith Penhale and Will Johnston for Lookout Point, and Ben Irving for the BBC.