Happy Valley season 3: who is who?
Spoilers for Happy Valley season one and two below
After a six-year hiatus, Happy Valley is back on our screens for one final blowout series. And the beloved Yorkshire series is as good as ever: “Happy Valley’s third and final season has started with a bang,” said the Standard, while another UK newspaper said: “Writer Sally Wainwright’s masterwork is back”.
The six-episode series is already halfway through, but don’t worry if you’re only waking up to the show now after the barrage of good reviews in newspapers and from your friends and family – you can catch up on everything you’ve missed on BBC iPlayer.
So if you’re jumping on the bandwagon now, but you have no idea who is who, we have you covered.
Sergeant Catherine Cawood
It only takes a few minutes to fall in love with Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire).
When we join season three, it is seven months, one week and three days until the police officer’s well-deserved retirement. Even if she didn’t have such a tough job, she’d still be in need of a break.
Cawood’s family life is... complicated. Her sister is an ex-drug addict, and her son Daniel was estranged from her for a while. She had a daughter, Becky, who died by suicide after having a son, Ryan, from her rape by Tommy Lee Royce. Catherine is raising Ryan, but her then-husband Richard couldn’t handle it, leading to their divorce.
One newspaper said no one does “female-specific experience” like the show’s writer Wainwright, “or evokes the thousands of different shades and forms of violence that hang about it better than she does”. No one better embodies the brilliant women that have to navigate this experience than Cawood.
Tommy Lee Royce
Psychopathic woman-hater Royce (James Norton) is the opposite of Cawood in nearly every respect. A sadistic murderer, serial rapist and drug offender, he is physically abusive to his mother, calculating and vindictive. He spends series one and two obsessively pursuing his son Ryan (whose mother is Becky), though his instinct seems to be one of jealous possession and ownership rather than fatherly affection – that the person who stands in his way is Cawood, essentially his nemesis, as Ryan’s protector and the person who put him in prison at the end of season one, is a source of boiling rage for him (not that he’s short of it). Somehow, she manages to foil his plans every time.
Clare (Siobhan Finneran) is Catherine’s younger sister, and helped Catherine to raise Ryan. She is a recovering heroin and alcohol addict, who, by the second series, has been sober for 12 years. She is kind, caring, and feels things very deeply. The two sisters have been through a lot together – after Clare’s addictons led to homelessness, Catherine took her in. These days she smokes cigarettes, drinks tea, attends AA meetings, volunteers at a local mission, looks after Ryan, and tends to her allotment.
Clare has a relapse in series two after the death from cancer of a dear friend, Helen Gallagher, who had helped her to battle her addictions the first time around. Catherine helps her to get through it, and Clare emerges stronger and resolves to remain clean. She also rekindles a spark with former lover Neil Ackroyd, recently divorced, who also turns out to have a murky past when it becomes clear that he was involved with a local woman, Vicky Fleming, who has been murdered. Despite his own relapsing and refusal to tell the police of his association with Vicky, Clare stands by him when he promises to pull himself together.
These days Gallagher (Charlie Murphy) is a police officer, but it wasn’t always this way: she too has her own dramatic back story. The daughter of billionaire Nevison Gallagher, she becomes the target of a kidnapping plot in season one cooked up by one of Gallagher’s employees, accountant Kevin Weatherill (Steven Pemberton, suitably shifty) and a local criminal Ashley Cowgill (Joe Armstrong). Who is hired for the job but – you guessed it – Royce, along with Lewis Whippey (Adam Long). Royce hides Ann in his mum’s basement, with his own secret plans to turn her into his sex slave – Lewis is appalled when he realises that Tommy has raped Ann. Catherine eventually turns up, there is a tremendous fight, and, happily, both Ann and Catherine make it out alive, but only just. After her recovery, Ann joins the police.
As Catherine’s grandson Ryan (Rhys Connah) grows up, he has to come to terms with the character of his father and the terrible ways Tommy has affected the lives of the Cawood family – but denied a father figure after Catherine’s husband Richard leaves, consumed by resentment of the boy for his daughter Becky’s death, he yearns for Tommy’s approval nonetheless. Teaching assistant Miss Wealand (Shirley Henderson), one of Royce’s prison groupies from season two, persuades Ryan to write Royce a letter (which is not permitted) to open up a channel of communication. What will the fallout be, and, now he’s a teenager, will Ryan try and build some kind of relationship with his awful father?
SEASON THREE EPISODE THREE SPOILER AHEAD! Neil Ackroyd (Con O’Neill), a recovering alcoholic, is Clare’s boyfriend. After briefly seemingly representing a chink of light in Clare’s rather difficult life, last season, he confessed himself uncomfortably connected to murder victim Vicky Fleming – something he refused to admit to the police. On top of that, he was arrested by Catherine for disorderly drunken behaviour in public. He nonetheless promised that he would look after Clare and change his ways. Things are complicated, though, by the fact that in season three episode three we’ve just seen Neil bring Ryan to see his father in prison – something Catherine sees as a huge betrayal (not without reason). Why? And how are the two men connected? Wild theories abound.
Inspector Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor (Rick Warden) is a member of the Yorkshire Police, and has worked closely with Cawood from the beginning of the show.
PC Shafiq Shah
Played by Shane Zaza, Shah is another member of the Yorkshire Police, Happy Valley’s fictional police force.
DSI Andy Shepherd
Played by Vincent Franklin, DSI Andy Shepherd is a member of the Yorkshire Police team in series two and three.
Bhatti (Amit Shah) is a crooked pharmacist who is a new season three cast member. He has a wife and daughter, and seems incredibly awkward – sweet, even. But he soon starts to show that he has a more sinister, side.
The billionaire businessman father of Ann, whose wife Helen died of cancer in season two. Gallagher (George Costigan) is now getting used to life as a widower and has grown closer to Catherine – perhaps he even fancies her a bit.
We still don’t know a lot about Rob (Mark Stanley), a new season three cast member, but what we do know isn’t good. He is Ryan’s PE teacher – treating the lad terribly when he concedes a goal during a match – and from early on it seems clear he is showing abusive and coercive behaviour towards his wife Joanna.
Joanna (Mollie Winnard) is Rob’s wife, and the couple share two daughters. She is addicted to prescription drugs and is extremely vulnerable.
Richard (Derek Riddell) is Catherine’ ex-husband, who left the marriage because he couldn’t bear the presence of Ryan, his daughter Becky’s son from her rape by Tommy Lee Royce, and in his eyes, the reason for her taking her own life. He remarried, but despite this, in season one Richard and Catherine continued to conduct an affair. He disappeared in season two, but is back, almost certainly bringing further drama to Catherine’s life.
In the second season, Daniel (Karl Davies) started speaking to his mum, Catherine again, and now they’re closer than ever. He is in a relationship with Ann Gallagher.
Alison (Susan Lynch) was a crucial character during season two. Her very emotional backstory is that she was raped by a family member in her youth, became pregnant and kept the the child, Darryl. Darryl sadly grows up to be a serial killer and Alison kills him whe she finds out about his crimes. She then tries to kill herself but does not succeed.