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4.9 out of 5 stars
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4.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 June 2014
Catherine Cawood, a tough but honest and decent sergeant striving to do her job in a rundown Yorkshire valley community, is consumed with anxiety over the release from jail of Tommy Lee Royce, the disturbed and violent young thug indirectly responsible for the death of her teenage daughter, by whom he fathered the grandson Catherine feels morally obliged to bring up, even at the cost of her own marriage. "What else could she do?" When Tommy becomes involved once again in serious local crime, her obsession with getting him back behind bars and out of her small grandson's life goes beyond the call of duty.

With its tongue-in-cheek title, since this must surely be one of the saddest former industrial valleys in Britain apart from the lovely scenery, the police thriller succeeds on all counts. It is compulsive viewing, filled with tense edge-of-the-seat moments, yet unlike many similar dramas is highly plausible, with no nagging holes in the plot twists. The quality of the acting is superb across the board, with a sharp script, many touches of humour to ease the frequent grimness of the theme and little need for subtitles.

It succeeds on several levels, not only as admittedly often bleak and bloody entertainment, but also in developing in depth all the characters as believable people, with their strengths and failings, and their complex relationships. The author even manages to evoke a little sympathy for most of the villains, including Royce, with some appreciation of the dysfunctional families and injustices which have moulded them. As the wealthy industrialist whose daughter is kidnapped observes at one point with unintentional irony, "all actions have consequences".

Mid-way, I began to question if some of the violence was gratuitous, but have to admit that the various murders are all "necessary for the plot" plus the skilful direction means that in fact much of the horror is in one's imagination. By the end, I was convinced that this is mainstream television drama that will be hard to better, and wish there was more produced of this standard.
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on 10 June 2014
This truly has been one of the most gripping TV dramas I have watched in a very long time. I must admit I came across this series by accident whilst searching through BBC iPlayer for something else, however having spotted Sarah Lancashire of whom I have always been a bit of a fan, I thought I'll give it a try. The series was already 3 episodes in by the time I discovered it therefore I had the chance to catch up, by the end of the first episode I was hooked and had no choice but to continue devouring the series. I will admit I'm not really a huge viewer of television especially crime dramas as they often tend to be extremely cliched however Happy Valley totally caught me off guard. The writing and story was absolutely fantastic, gripping from the get go and however dark the story matter I often found a slight comedic element to Catherine's character caravans excellent portrayal by Sarah Lancashire. As the series progresses you can't help but be dragged in to Catherine's fight and without wanting to give too much away if it wasn't already personal for her in the very beginning of the series by the third episode Catherine's fight becomes even more so. The acting all round is superb Sarah Lancashire is as I have already mentioned absolutely fantastic, the variety she brings to every character she plays surely can be compared only to some of the very best actresses in the business, she surely deserves much more recognition. Steve Pemberton is also in a strange way a delight to watch, Sibohan Finneran portrayed an excellent supporting character. Overall a sheer delight to watch although brutal at times but gripping British drama as it should be.
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This is by far the best drama I have EVER seen! If Sarah Lancashire doesn't get a best actress award for this there is something wrong with the world!
The characters are so believable and the plot is so gripping it has you sitting on the edge of you're seat shouting "NO!" At the screen!
The content is horrific and shocking at times but it leaves you wanting more. PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE make this into a series! I cannot wait to own this on DVD.
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on 21 May 2014
What a fantastic series this is, yes it certainly shocks you, edge of seat stuff! Sarah Lancashire is absolutely brilliant, I love watching her in anything, Sarah Lancashire for Best actress award for definate. She thoroughly deserves it, She is exceptional in this!
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on 15 June 2014
What can I say about this incredible series which hasn't already been said? It is beautifully written, superbly acted and a prefect combination of tense thriller and heartfelt emotional drama. Sarah Lancashire gives one of the greatest performances I have ever seen- the BAFTA must be hers next year.

I urge you to buy this series- you'll want to splurge out and watch it all in one go. I envy you for discovering this for the first time.
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on 21 May 2014
Like the other reviewers, I can't wait for the next episode. Edge of my seat throughout and totally caught up in the drama. I agree that this should lead into another series. Brilliant acting by all the actors and deserving of several awards.
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'Stuck in speed bump city
Where the only thing that's pretty
Is the thought of getting out

There's a tower block overhead
All you've got's your benefits
And you're barely scraping by

In this trouble town
Troubles are found
In this trouble town
Words do get 'round'

Lyrics to 'Trouble Town'- by Jake Bugg, theme song of Happy Valley

'HappyValley' is one of those towns so misnamed, that you wonder as you drive through, who in their right mind named this town. It took me until Episode 3 to really get into this series. Until then, it was one of those series with an interesting but violent story lines. But, then, the adventures and personalities of the characters hooked me. It is one of those series where you really come to care for the characters.

Sally Wainwright, who wrote 'The Last Tango In Halifax' wrote this series, and it has more of the tough, brutal, real scenes, we don't see in The Last Tango. The characters are very real, very complex and some are downright nasty. Sarah Lancashire plays Catherine Cawood, you will note her from 'The Last Tango In Halifax'. She is a Police Sargeant in this area, and this is her life. Her daughter hanged herself in the past year, and Catherine has not been able to work through this. She takes in her grandson. Clare, Catherine's sister, played by Siobhan Finneran, (O'Brien from Downton Abbey), is superb in this role. She is a recovering drug addict, working in a Mission and helping to care for the boy. The boy's psychopathic father plays a large role in this series, and a nastier piece of work you will never see. All of the police are well played and realistic. The area of Yorkshire in England is as beautiful as it is deadly.

This series has taken the UK by storm and now the US. It is one of the better series you will see, and I urge you to view it. The proliferation of drugs into our society plays a big part in this series. Sarah Lancashire deserves awards aplenty, and I have read that Season 2 of 'Happy Valley' is on it's way.

Recommended. prisrob 08-24-14
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on 21 May 2014
Sarah Lancashire is just an absolute diamond. She is one of our finest actresses. I am wishing my life away, having watched episode 4 last night, can't wait until next Thursday. The acting is brilliant without any dramatic histrionics, and just the right amount of humour. The line about animal husbandry was brilliant. James Norton is excellent as the vile Tommy as he just doesn't look like your typical lowlife, looks are so deceiving. Sally Wainwright's writing skills just keeps you caught up in the drama and wanting more. Brilliant. Roll on next Tuesday.
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on 16 June 2014
British Drama at it's best.
* Contains subject matter which some may find upsetting or cause distress*

Sarah Lancashire gives an outstanding performance (a long way from Raquel Watts in Coronation Street.) in a drama that is anything but happy and leaves you pondering whether you should feel sorry for the character of Kevin (Played by Steve Pemberton).
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I wasn't really surprised when I heard that 'Happy Valley' lost 800,000 viewers after the first week because it wasn't what I expected and I suspect it wasn't what a lot of other people expected either. I thought it would be along the lines of 'Heartbeat' with a different story each episode laced with a touch of humour. Boy was I wrong! This was a hard hitting drama and not always an easy watch with several disturbing scenes. For all of that though it was compelling, very well acted and quite probably the best drama on TV this year.

As stated, the acting was top notch across the board with not one dud performance. Special mention should go to James Norton who played the role of the psychotic Tommy very well. I have left the best till last though and that is the performance of Sarah Lancashire. I consider Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett to be the two best actresses in the movies but they couldn't have bettered this performance. It was a performer at the very top of their game and even when she had no dialogue you couldn't take your eyes off her. There was one scene (SPOILER ALERT) where she had to clear out a murdered police officer's locker and you could feel and see the anguish she felt even though not one word was spoken. Quality stuff, nice one Sarah and nice one to everyone involved with 'Happy Valley'.
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