Last night saw the incredibly satisfying conclusion to Sally Wainwright’s superb drama Happy Valley. We’ve praised this series over and over about as much as we did Broadchurch last year and BBC2’s sublime crime procedural Line of Duty but there’s something that makes Happy Valley stand head and shoulders over those two dramas. The ending. Unlike the final episodes of Broadchurch and Line of Duty, Sally Wainwright’s last episode gave the audience exactly what they wanted as the brilliantly evil Tommy Lee Royce got his comeuppance at the hands of our hero Catherine Cawood. The final scenes saw Cawood reflect over the the traumatic moments of the series set against the brooding Yorkshire landscape. I don’t use this term lightly, I believe Happy Valley is/was the best BBC drama of the last few years. Utter perfection from episode one to six. And, that’s exactly why I don’t want it to return for a second series. There’s a worrying trend in British television at the moment, where if something does well it has to come back for more. The reason Happy Valley was such a success was it’s exciting kidnap, cat and mouse chase storyline, and as much as I was moved and engrossed in the lives of each character I think the story has been told so brilliantly that it doesn’t really need to be revisited.
As we reached the final episode of Broadchurch last year, ITV’s adverts promised its loyal following ‘closure’ in the final episode and then sprung the surprise that it would return for a second series! Chris Chibnall’s expectational script kept us all gripped, shoving our PVRs aside and watching live Mondays at 9.00pm for eight wonderfully exciting weeks, but I can’t believe he had planned to have the series return after promising ‘closure’ in the final episode. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to have Tennant and Colman and reunited for another series but I’d’ve been just as satisfied to have Broadchurch tell its story and remember it as a true television masterpiece. I’ve a worrying feeling any article I write about the series in the future is likely to contain the phrase ‘remember how good series 1 was’.
Further examples of things returning that don’t really need to include BBC2’s The Fall which frustrated viewers as the words ‘To Be Continued’ scrolled across the screen as series 1 reached its conclusion. As well as wonderful comedy The Wrong Mans which is returning for a second series despite the first tieing up so nicely. I’m aware it sounds an odd thing to bemoan a successful series coming back for more but particualarly in the case of Happy Valley it all ended so wonderfully, with every t crossed and every i dotted that to bring it back just to capitalise on strong ratings seems a real shame. I’d rather remember something that blew us all away, a brilliant story, expertly told.
The DVD for Happy Valley is available Monday 16th June