Happy Valley 2 with Sarah Lancashire

Happy Valley series 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) - (C) Red Productions

Cut above: Catherine (Sarah Lancashire)

Sarah Lancashire is back in a second, gripping series as the fearless small-town cop

★★★★½ BBC1, Tuesday, 9 February, 9pm

SO FAR this winter we’ve had new series of Midsomer Murders and Death in Paradise. Both are hugely popular, marvellous entertainment, lovely settings – and ever so dull.

Returning Vera and Shetland are decent whodunits, lovely settings, etc. Endeavour 3 is perhaps the best of the comeback bunch.

But now we’re getting down to the good stuff. The much talked-about The People v OJ Simpson arrives this month, along with Better Call Saul 2, The Night Manager – and the second series of the superb Happy Valley.

Writer/creator Sally Wainwright did something distinctive with the crime format in series one. The story of small-town police sergeant Cath Cawood – the awesome Sarah Lancashire – was much more than a cop procedural.

Tommy Lee Royce returns

As anyone who has previously been immersed in Last Tango in Halifax or Scott & Bailey knows, Wainwright’s stories offer living, breathing characters whose lives can be ordinary, profound, flawed and funny.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 02/02/2016 - Programme Name: Happy Valley series 2 - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: **EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL TUESDAY 2ND FEBRUARY** Catherine (SARAH LANCASHIRE) - (C) Red Productions - Photographer: Ben Blackall

Rock and a hard place: Catherine deals with a sheep

The good news is that series 2 picks up nicely where the first concluded, offering a further mesh of compelling narratives. The BBC now issues a long decree about what should be mentioned in previews such as this, so I’ll stick precisely to what is mentionable.

Catherine is getting back to rebuilding her life, now that the vicious Tommy Lee Royce – James Norton, fresh from War and Peace – is behind bars. However, his hatred of Catherine is resurrected when he learns she has discovered a rotting body…

Sarah Lancashire is again very believable in the emotionally challenging role of a police officer battling to be a good family member and cop in the drug- and poverty-hit Calder Valley of West Yorkshire. As we know from series one, her daughter committed suicide after being raped by Royce, and as she endeavours to bring up her daughter’s son, Ryan, this heartache comes back to haunt her in series 2.  [Read more…]

Scott & Bailey, ITV, with Lesley Sharp, Suranne Jones PREVIEW

LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott and AMELIA BULLMORE as DCI Gill Murray and SURANNE JONES as DS Rachel Bailey
Back in action – Lesley Sharp, Amelia Bullmore and Suranne Jones. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★

ITV: starts Wednesday, 10 September, 9pm

Story: After falling out with each other so badly in the last series, Rachel and Janet resolve to move forward and to try to make something of their careers. While they are both preoccupied with aiming for promotion to sergeant, however, a vulnerable young adult goes missing…

SCOTT & BAILEY returns with another captivating episode – is a good sign for series four. Rachel and Janet have decided to set their recent bust-up aside – along with their less than dazzling personal

AMELIA BULLMORE as DCI Gill Murray
DCI Murray at the quarry 

lives – to focus on making something of their careers.

While they are on speaking terms again, both are also focused on promotions to the rank of sergeant. As they face their promotion interviews, the story of the week is about the kidnap of a vulnerable young adult called Robin McKendrick.

The series’ popularity is probably down to a combination of good writing and acting from well-liked stars Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp and Amelia Bullmore (who also writes this episode), and the skill with which it interweaves the police procedural stuff with their personal stories.

Bittersweet twist for Rachel and Janet

It is not as distinctive or powerful as Happy Valley, The Fall or Broadchurch, but it is looking down on Death in Paradise and Lewis from a great height.

Part of its winning formula is also having characters who feel familiar. Most viewers know a steady

SURANNE JONES as DS Rachel Bailey, DELROY BROWN as DC Lee Broadhurst, LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott, DAVID PROSHO as DC Ian Mitchell, AMELIA BULLMORE as DCI Gill Murray, TONY MOONEY as DC Pete Readyough. L-R Front Row: DANNY MILLER as DS Rob Waddington and DANNY WEBB as DC Chris Crowley.
Debriefing for Syndicate 9

Janet (Lesley Sharp) – here coping with warring daughters and her ‘hindrance’ of a mother following the collapse of her marriage – as well as a reckless Rachel (Suranne Jones), who is trying to move on from her impetuous marriage and become the responsible, instinctive and successful detective she could be.

There is a bittersweet twist in the opening episode about their bids to become sergeant, and again the characters respond to the outcome in a way that is understandable while tinged with sadness for one of them.

Woman missing for 23 years

The other stand-out aspect to the shows is that the cases are not run-of-the-mill whodunits. There is usually some level of insight into the victims’/families’ stories and social context to the drama. And in

 LESLEY SHARP as DC Janet Scott and DELROY BROWN as DC Lee Broadhurst
Jane and Lee Broadhurst looking for the missing man

the last series there was the recurring and chilling story of the apparently bed-ridden man whose elderly wife suffered a gruesome death.

This week’s story of the missing young man is all the sadder when Rachel visits his horrible parents and finds their poor son was neglected and effectively alone in the world. While searching a quarry for the guy’s body, however, the team discovers another corpse first – one that guvnor Gill Murray (Bullmore) suspects may be that of a missing woman called Mandy Sweeting, who’s been missing for 23 years.

Which sets things up nicely for next week.

Check out these links…
Series four of Scott & Bailey announced
Scott & Bailey Facebook page
Series three preview on CrimeTimePreview

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Scott & Bailey 3, ITV, with Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp PREVIEW



Rating: ★★★★½

ITV: starts Wednesday, 3 April, 9pm

Story: A worried neighbour knocks on Janet Scott’s door one night, concerned about the smell coming from a house down the road…

Manchester detectives Scott & Bailey quickly won a following among audiences and critics alike, clocking up between six and eight million viewers and winning the Royal Television Society’s script writing award for Sally Wainwright last November.

Good as the first two series were, however, series three gets off to a blistering start and could be the best yet. No sooner are the credits done than Janet is saying to Rachel in the Ladies, ‘This woman comes knocking on our door at half past eight last night. She lives down the road. I don’t know her particularly well…’

And we’re straight into an absorbing case that is horrific, sad and mystifying despite the apparent everyday nature of the tragedy.

Strange smell from a creepy houseThe neighbour says there’s a smell coming from a house that Janet has always found creepy. When the uniforms break the door down they find 75-year-old Eunice’s body at the top of the stairs – and her head at the bottom.

In the upstairs bedroom is close-to-death, bed-ridden husband Joe. He’s emaciated and barely able to speak.

It turns out Eunice was hit over the head. In a bid to discover who killed her, Rachel and Janet set out to trace the couple’s four children, who it seems haven’t visited their parents in a long time.


Nicola Walker as Helen
They finally locate daughter Helen, who is working on the makeup counter of a department store. Helen’s response to news of her mother’s death is distracted and muted. Upset she is not – ‘I don’t have anything to do with my parents,’ she says. ‘They’re of no interest to me.’  It’s a stunning and eerie performance by Nicola Walker as Helen.

What unfolds is a shocking story of evil, made totally gripping by sublime acting. George Costigan as Joe is a disturbing portrayal, and with Nicola Walker he makes this a powerful opening to the series. And watch out because the character of Helen turns up again later in the series in another tragic story.

Suranne Jones and her former Corrie colleague Sally Lindsay dreamed up this Cagney & Lacey-inspried series, in a bid to create prominent female characters, and a big element of its success is that the characters of Rachel Bailey and Janet Scott are as important as the cases featured each week.


Rachel’s bored with her marriage – after three months
So, Rachel is only three months into her marriage and finds herself bored with dishy but dull hubby Sean, while Janet, whose marriage is over though she still shares a roof with Ade, is upset that he is dating and she fancies no one.

Tracie Bennett joins the cast as Rachel’s drunken, boob-flashing mum, further adding to the detective’s headaches. Meanwhile, Janet is acting as sergeant but is in two minds about whether to take on the extra responsibilities permanently. Another new cast member in episode four (Danny Miller) four will settle this issue for her…

Amelia Bullmore is back in tough boss mode as DCI Gill Murray, and Pippa Haywood is again unrecognisable from her daffy role as Harriet in Prisoners’ Wives, here reappearing as the formidable and acerbic Detective Superintendent Julie Dodson.

It’s a great ensemble cast, and on the evidence of episode one, stands alongside Broadchurch as the best  UK crime drama currently on telly.

Cast: Suranne Jones DC Rachel Bailey, Lesley Sharp DC Janet Scott, Amelia Bullmore DCI Gill Murray, Danny Miller DS Rob Waddington (eps 4 – 8), Ben Batt DC Kevin Lumb, David Prosho DC Ian Mitchell, Tony Mooney DC Pete Readyough, Delroy Brown DC Lee Broadhurst, Nicola Walker Helen Bartlett, George Costigan Joe Bevan, Tracie Bennett Sharon Bailey, Sean Maguire PC Sean McCartney, Tony Pitts Adrian Scott, Judith Barker Dorothy Parsons, Judy Holt Scary Mary Jackson

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Scott & Bailey 2 – Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp PREVIEW

Bailey (Suranne Jones) and Scott (Lesley Sharp). Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½

ITV1, starts Monday, 12 March, 9pm 

Story: The detective constables Scott and Bailey return to duty on Manchester’s Major Incident Team. Rachel Bailey’s estranged brother turns up on her doorstep. She takes him in with a warning that he must put his criminal past behind him. Janet Scott tells her husband, Adrian, to leave the house after he rows with her mother. Meanwhile, the badly burned body of a disabled man turns up.

Sisters are doing it for themselves in a range of new hit dramas on UK television just now. Scott & Bailey has women all along its production line and returns after a quiet launch last year that still managed to wow an audience of 9.4 million viewers. That’s pretty huge in these multi-channel days.

It was created and written by Sally Wainwright (At Home with the Braithwaites) and has a good cast led by Suranne Jones (the former Corrie actress who came up the idea for S&B with Sally Lindsay, who also stars here) and Lesley Sharp.

A witness objects to Rachel’s line of questioning

Women on top
Their boss is Detective Chief Inspector Gill Murray (Amelia Bullmore, who has also written episode seven of this series), and we meet her colleague and best mate, the formidable DCI Julie Dodson (Pippa Haywood, playing a vastly different character from mousey Harriet in Prisoners’ Wives).

Men pop up too. They tend to be the immature, dumb detectives, the nagging husband or inadequate brother. There must be quite a few of those around, judging by the loud chord S&B seems to have struck with female viewers.

So what are the unique selling points of S&B (apart from lacklustre men)? First, it’s strongly character-focused. The opening episode is 10 minutes old before it gets into any serious detective work.

Troublesome brother
Rachel’s estranged brother, 28-year-old Dominic, appears out of the rain one night. She reluctantly takes him in on the proviso that he stirs clear of armed robbery. He seems too reticent and inept for that line of criminality. This is a bloke who can’t put a pan on the cooker without nearly burning down the flat.

Meanwhile, Janet’s husband with the appalling haircut is kicking off about having the mother-in-law staying with them. When he flounces out during a row, Janet tells him not to come back.

‘Men are just shit, aren’t they,’ Rachel says to Janet. And she should know, having been dumped in series one by that caddish Rupert Graves just when she was expecting an engagement ring.

Marriage troubles await Scott

Burned bodies
The show’s other strong point is that it avoids the forensic porn so many shows thrive on. The case being investigated here in a two-part story is about a disabled man’s burned body being found, soon followed up by another burned corpse.

Both men were tortured. Now, if this were Silent Witness we’d be taken on a pointless fingertip journey through each victim’s viscera. S&B doesn’t confuse voyeuristic gore with dramatic storytelling and the visual horror is never exploited.

Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp are appealing as Britain’s very own Cagney and Lacey – they’re fine performers and dissimilar enough to make believable friends. And the moments that stand out are the small, truthful scenes, such as Scott and Bailey paying a painful visit to the wife of the second victim.

Sexy colleague
It’s a moment that says something about their tough job, and the women doing it.

If only the men would get their act together. In episode two Rachel finds herself waking up next to a sexy colleague and old flame. Now, what are the chances of Sean turning out to a faithful, witty and thoroughly decent chap?

Cast: Suranne Jones DC Rachel Bailey, Lesley Sharp DC Janet Scott, Amelia Bullmore DCI Gill Murray, Nicholas Gleaves DS Andy Roper, Ben Batt DC Kevin Lumb, David Prosho DC Ian Mitchell, Tony Mooney DC Pete Readyough, Delroy Brown DC Lee Broadhurst, Sally Lindsay Alison, Vincent Regan DCS Dave Murray, Tony Pitts Adrian, Pippa Haywood DCI Julie Dodson, Liam Boyle Dominic

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