Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright: ‘Sarah Lancashire is mind-blowing in the finale!’

As the tension mounts in Happy Valley, the show’s writer and director Sally Wainwright gives TV Times some clues about what might be in store for Sgt Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) and villlainous Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton)…

What’s coming up as the series draws to a close?
“You will find out who the killer is. I think the finale’s even more action-packed than last series. Catherine deals with a lot of stuff and the way Tommy’s story ties up I hope is slightly unexpected. But if you think Sarah’s a brilliant actress, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the finale. She is mind-blowing.”

You really put her through the mill in this and in your other hit show Last Tango in Halifax, could you give her a break?!
“Sarah says that all the time! Hopefully she doesn’t mean it, I think she appreciates it. She is very clever and she just puts so much thought into what she does, she gets obsessed with it. She is just a deeply gifted actress.”

You must be very proud of James Norton too, he’s gone from strength to strength since the first series of Happy Valley…
“I love James; he is wonderful, a really nice lad and a delight to work with because he is so excited about acting. He is such a thoughtful intelligent actor and that gets lost in all the media hype about him being a heartthrob and whether he’d take his shirt off in War and Peace!”

Did you feel under pressure when you wrote the second series because the first did so well?
“You’re nervous because you want it to do as well as the first series but the story is easier and a delight to write because I could write to the actors’ strengths and they fire your imagination. I never intended it as a one-off, it would be very sad to walk away from it when there is a lot to explore but I wanted the destructive relationship between Catherine and Tommy to still be the backbone of it.”

Could there be a series three?
“It depends on the viewing figures and we’ve certainly not been given a green light yet but I’ve always got lots of ideas and probably it would feature more of the same as we have this time.”

And will there be more Last Tango in Halifax?
“I’m working on it now and I am looking forward to it but I’ve got to do it while I am prepping for the Bronte drama [BBC1’s To Walk Invisible], so that is a bit nerve-wracking. People keep saying, ‘Is that it now for Last Tango?’ But absolutely not, we are all dead keen to carry on doing Last Tango forever!”

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