Con O’Neill promises ending of Happy Valley will be ‘extraordinary’

Happy Valley actor Robert ‘Con’ O’Neill said when he read the script for the last episode of the hit BBC series it “blew” his mind as he promised the ending of the show will be “extraordinary”.

The final episode of the show, created by writer Sally Wainwright and starring Sarah Lancashire as West Yorkshire Sergeant Catherine Cawood, will be broadcast on Sunday night at 9pm.

When the multi-Bafta-winning series returned after seven years for a last series on New Year’s Day, it received rave reviews and has weekly drawn in millions of viewers to watch the TV show in real time on BBC One.

For two series of the show, O’Neill has played recovering alcoholic Neil Ackroyd, who is the boyfriend of Catherine’s sister, Clare, played by Siobhan Finneran.

When he was asked about the ending on This Morning on Thursday, O’Neill said: “When I read the script for the last episode it blew my mind … Sally has written an extraordinary ending to the show.”

Over the last five episodes, Happy Valley has continued to follow the story of Catherine, who is currently awaiting retirement, and her nemesis, the murderer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton, along with introducing new plotlines and characters.

The six-part drama has also focused on Catherine’s grandson Ryan, played by Rhys Connah, and his relationship with his father Royce, the crime family the Knezevics and married couple Game Of Thrones star Mark Stanley and former Coronation Street actress Mollie Winnard.

Stanley plays Ryan’s controlling PE teacher Rob Hepworth, who padlocks the fridge and beats his wife Joanna, who is addicted to diazepam, which has been provided by Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah).

O’Neill said he missed the impact the final series was having on UK audiences as he was away filming romantic pirate comedy Our Flag Means Death, which also stars Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi.

He added: “So I was in New Zealand and then in LA and then came back and as soon as I got off the plane here (people were whispering when I was) waiting at customs.

“I’m getting some bizarre DMs and (my mates are) texting me with ideas about who he is and what’s going to happen…

“We’ve lived with this show for a long, long time and for Sally to bring it home the way she has, it’s very easy to keep a secret because it’s just beautiful … and isn’t it wonderful to not have a show dropping every episode?”

The previous series of Happy Valley aired on BBC One in 2016. Both series one and two won Baftas for best drama series and writing, while Lancashire won the leading actress prize for the second series.

Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2021 – Arrivals – London
Helena Bonham Carter, who stars alongside Con O’Neill in three-part ITVX series Nolly (Ian West/PA)

O’Neill also stars in three-part ITVX series Nolly which sees Helena Bonham Carter take on the role of soap and TV star Noele Gordon, who died in 1985.

He plays Jack Barton, the producer of Crossroads, when Gordon was controversially sacked after 19 years on the long-running British TV soap at the age of 61.

O’Neill said: “Jack wanted to change some things, make it a bit more progressive, a bit more inclusive, and she was steadfastly against that and she would and did undermine him in front of everyone so he had a grudge.”

He added that Russell T Davies, who created the show, is “close to genius” for making the script for the series so funny, after the show aired on Thursday.

O’Neill added: “(Helena’s) incredible, she’s awesome, she’s funny, she’s witty, she’s sharp and when that camera is running she’s untouchable.”