Penny Lancaster hopes Happy Valley inspires women to join the police

Special constable Penny Lancaster has said she hopes BBC drama Happy Valley inspires women to join the police.

The former model and TV presenter said Sarah Lancashire’s character, Sergeant Catherine Cawood, is her “heroine” and “the most authentic police officer on TV”.

Happy Valley, created and written by Sally Wainwright, received rave reviews when it returned for a final series on New Year’s Day.

ICON Ball fashion event fundraiser
Penny Lancaster and Sir Rod Stewart (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The drama follows Sgt Cawood on the trail of murderer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Lancaster said: “So many of the skills you require as a police officer actually come from your own experience.

“I think it’s why women make great officers. The first skills you need are compassion, empathy and communication — all of which you use on a daily basis as a mother.

“The more I do this job, the more I see the parallels.

“I do hope that women watching Happy Valley might be inspired to join the police. We need female officers more than ever.

“Catherine shows that it’s a tough job but that women can be as tough as men and actually, a lot of the time, do the job more efficiently because of their inner strength.

Happy Valley
Sarah Lancashire as Sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley (Matt Squire/PA)

“It’s not about bravado or flexing muscles. And while we need young women, we also need to retain the older women in the force.”

Lancaster, who is married to Sir Rod Stewart, began volunteering with City of London Police after appearing in Channel 4 show Famous And Fighting Crime, in which celebrities swapped their day jobs with those of emergency service professionals.

She later completed her training to become a special constable in April 2021.

In September, Lancaster took to the streets of central London as part of the force policing the Queen’s funeral procession.