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…]

The Guilty ITV, with Tamsin Greig, Darren Boyd, Katherine Kelly PREVIEW

The Guilty ITV TAMSIN GREIG as DC Maggie Brand, KATHERINE KELLY as Claire Reid and DARREN BOYD as Daniel Reid
Tamsin Greig, Katherine Kelly and Dominic Boyd in The Guilty. Pics: ITV

Rating: ★★★½

ITV: starts Thursday, 5 September, 9pm

Story: Following an annual neighbourhood barbecue, Claire and Daniel Reid frantically search for their little boy Callum when they awake to find him missing. Five years later, DC Maggie Brand investigates the disappearance following the discovery of a body, while at the same time coping with her own son’s diagnosis with autism.

THE GUILTY IS one of those reasonably decent whodunits that pop up on UK telly a lot and are about average people in ordinary settings. The problem is, sometimes they are so ordinary that they make little impression.

It’s in the same neighbourhood as series such as The Ice Cream Girls, Mayday, The Poison Tree, A Mother’s Son and The Last Weekend – dramas that were OK, but which don’t linger in the memory.

Little boy Callum disappears from home during the night after his parents have gone to a neighbourhood barbecue. Five years later his mother, Claire, played by former Corrie star Katherine Kelly, holds out hope that he will still be found.

The Guilty ITV ARSHER ALI as DS Vinesh Roy and TAMSIN GREIG as DC Maggie Brand
Under pressure – DCI Brand (Tamsin Greig)

Tamsin Greig is DCI Brand

However, when a body is discovered  in a park area near their home, the case gets a new spurt of momentum and DCI Maggie Brand – Tamsin Greig, leaving the comedies behind for now – leads the investigation. It’s a case that ruined her former boss’s career.

The three-parter flits skilfully between the disappearance in 2008 and today, and we see Brand piecing together the secrets behind the suburban idyll.

In the opener, we get the events on the night of the barbecue, when the boozing gets out of hand, marital jealousies flare and violence erupts. Everyone appears to be dodgy – Claire’s husband, played by Darren Boyd, the nanny and her creepy boyfriend, the flirty neighbour, the old boy from down the road…

The problem for writer Debbie O’Malley is that she has just three episodes to flesh out her characters, who can seem unconvincing at times (Broadchurch clearly benefited from being eight episodes long). So, Brand’s stroppy colleague Ron, for instance, comes across as a bit of a cardboard mouthy sidekick.

The Guilty ITV POOKY QUESNEL as Ruth and KATHERINE KELLY as Claire Reid.
The barbecue from hell – Ruth (Pooky Quesnel) and Claire (Katherine Kelly)

Katherine Kelly is the drama’s emotional heart

Katherine Kelly, who cites Breaking Bad as one of her favourite dramas because of its distinctive characters, is one of the strongest figures in the drama. Claire goes from being naively optimistic to hellbent on finding her son’s abductor.

While she does the emotional fireworks, Tamsin Greig is more po-faced as the stoical, low-key detective coping with the depressing case, office politics and her son’s difficulties at school. An interesting aspect of the story is the unspoken bond between these two mothers.

Given the constraints of a mini-series, The Guilty does manage to deliver the one prerequisite of the whodunit – twists aplenty. As the action switches to Germany in episode two and the Reids’ marriage comes under strain, there are several big surprises in store for DCI Brand.

Before the abduction, the neighbourhood is relaxed

Cast: Darren Boyd Daniel Reid, Tamsin Greig DCI Maggie Brand, Katherine Kelly Claire Reid, Daniel Runacres-Grundstrom Callum Reid, Tommy Potten Sam Colman, Pooky Quesnel Ruth Hyde, Jude Foley Older Luke Reid, Alan Williams Frank Lawson, Jamie Sives Jeb Colman, William Ellis Malcolm James, Linda Marlowe Lynn Brand, Arsher Ali DS Vinesh Roy, Adam Kotz Dr Mike Rowntree, Madlen Meyer Nina Huber, Teddy Fitzpatrick Young Luke Reid, Joe Zanetti Felix Hyde, Milo Twomey Joe Wightman, Theo Barklem-Biggs Jason Byrne, Glen Wallace Sean O’Donnell, Ruta Gedmintas Teresa Morgan, Jay Simpson DC Ron Singer

See also:

The Guilty ITV

The Guardian: Is The Guilty the new Broadchurch?

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The Field of Blood: The Dead Hour, BBC1, with David Morrissey, Jayd Johnson, Katherine Kelly

Paddy Meehan (JAYD JOHNSON), Murray Devlin (DAVID MORRISSEY), Maloney (KATHERINE KELLY) in Field of Blood BBC1
Heard the news? Katherine Kelly is Jayd Johnson and David Morrissey’s new boss. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: Thursday, 8 August, 9pm

Story: Glasgow, 1984 – Paddy Meehan now has her dream job as a news reporter working alongside George McVie. But while times are changing in the newspaper industry with the arrival of a new editor-in-chief, Paddy investigates what seems to be a domestic that turns into murder and a conspiracy…

IT’S TWO YEARS since we first met Paddy Meehan, the aspiring young journalist in 1980s Glasgow. Or, in the words of her chauvinist editor, ‘You’re just the fat tart who makes the coffee.’

Paddy had ideas above her station, however, chased her story and proved that her 10-year-old cousin, who’d been arrested for the murder of a child, was innocent.

Now she’s back, no longer a ‘copyboy’ but a fully fledged reporter scouring the city for crime stories alongside veteran George McVie. It’s a two-part drama that has a lot going for it, from a very watchable cast to a juicy mystery that starts off looking like a domestic involving an Amnesty lawyer, but which quickly spirals into a major conspiracy.

Katherine Kelly is the scary new boss

Maloney (KATHERINE KELLY) in Field of Blood BBC1
Can Maloney be trusted?

Jayd Johnson makes a sympathetic young reporter again, and David Morrissey returns as the foghorn editor, though this time he is cowed by his own new boss – editor-in-chief Maloney, a woman, no less, played with Cruella de Vil relish by former Corrie stalwart Katherine Kelly.

Because times are a-changing in 1984. Not only is the miners’ strike dominating the headlines, but the newspapers themselves are modernising – new management, new computers, new redundancies.

So when Maloney arrives and tells editor Murray Devlin, ‘If you don’t like it, piss off,’ we know there are tricky times ahead.

Based on Denise Mina’s novel

It’s a period of turmoil that clearly galvanises author Denise Mina, on whose novel The Dead Hour this mini-series is based. It pulls together the office politics and the national battles for a thought-provoking and eventful story.

Paddy and George attend what appears to be domestic assault involving human rights lawyer Vhairi Burnett. But detectives at the scene tell the news-hounds that the victim does not want to take further action. However, the next day Vhairi turns up dead, and Paddy is on the path of the story of a lifetime, but one that powerful forces want to suppress.

The Beeb buried the first series in a post-10pm slot, but clearly value it enough this time round to put it on at a more viewer-friendly 9pm.

Paddy was a more convincing character first time round

Paddy Meehan (JAYD JOHNSON) in Field of Blood BBC1
Paddy’s in for a shock in the new series

Which is ironic in that the first series had the edge over this one. Paddy’s character was developed better in the original (if you haven’t seen that, you might feel she is pointlessly at loggerheads with everyone from her family, to her colleagues and the police here), and I also felt the period was portrayed more evocatively first time round.

Still, Katherine Kelly is a fine pantomime villain and the intrigue revives memories of a period of social and political upheaval, building to a shock end.

Cast: Jayd Johnson Paddy Meehan, Ford Kiernan George McVie, Katherine Kelly Maloney, David Morrissey Murray Devlin

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