One of British TV’s very best crime dramas is set to return next year: Happy Valley, starring Sarah Lancashire and James Norton, will be back for its third and final series, six years after the end of series 2. As you might expect, this means there’ll be a time jump in the show (seven years, as revealed by the show’s creator and writer, Sally Wainwright), focusing again on Lancashire’s police sergeant Catherine Cawood.
There’s no confirmed release date, other than it’ll air in 2023 on the BBC, but the BBC has already released several new photos from the upcoming series.
Seven years after the events of series 2, Catherine finds the remains of a gang murder victim in a reservoir. She finds herself once again crossing paths with Tommy Lee Royce (Norton), the show’s antagonist, who is a convicted murderer and rapist. His son, Ryan, (whose mother was Becky Cawood, Catherine’s daughter) is now sixteen and his choices and path in life with be explored in the third series.
Speaking to the Radio Times, Wainwright said of the time gap: “We’re seven years on. The plan was to wait for Ryan to be older so that he can make his own choices about whether he wanted to have contact with his dad or not. So it really explores that.”
However, despite Catherine living with Ryan, she still refuses to acknowledge Tommy as his father. Dealing with the newly uncovered gang murder and a still difficult drug problem in the valley, she’s seriously considering retirement in the near future. Along with Catherine, Tommy and Ryan returning, other characters that are set to come back are Ryan Cawood (Rhys Connah), Neil Ackroyd (Con O’Neil), Nevison Gallagher (George Costigan), Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), Richard Cawood (Derek Riddell) and Alison Garrs (Susan Lynch), among others. Meanwhile, new cast members include Mark Stanley, Amit Shah and Mollie Winnard, though none of the characters who they’re portraying have yet been announced.
Filming for the show began on January this year, just over six years since the last episode of Series 2 aired in 2016. The third, six-part series will definitely be the show’s last, with Wainwright saying she feels the series has the potential to be the show’s best, with the time jump allowing new stories and themes to be explored.