Happy Valley season 3: Sarah Lancashire will return in third and final series of police drama

The BBC has confirmed the return of the BAFTA-winning crime drama Happy Valley, with Sarah Lancashire, James Norton and Siobhan Finneran reprising their roles for the show’s final outing.

By Sophia Moir Published: 12 November 2021 - 4.03pm
BBC/Red Productions Sarah Lancashire as Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley

It’s been five long years since Happy Valley last aired on BBC One, but it’s been confirmed that filming on the highly-anticipated new season will commence in early 2022.

And rumours that season 3 of the gritty police drama will be the last have indeed been proved true, as the show’s creator Sally Wainwright has written six final episodes. 

With all the main cast including Sarah Lancashire, James Norton and Siobhan Finneran set to reprise their roles, we round up everything we know so far about the multi-BAFTA winning Happy Valley, below.

Who’s in the cast of Happy Valley season 3?

James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley BBC/Red Productions

Sarah Lancashire is set to return as the show’s lead, Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood. You may recognise the Oldham-born actress from her long-running role as Raquel in Coronation Street. She’s also starred in TV series including Where the Heart Is, Clocking Off, Seeing Red and Last Tango in Halifax. Recently, she played Jamie's mother in the film adaptation of the musical, Everybody's Talking About Jamie.

James Norton will also return as Catherine’s nemesis, the callous murderer and sex offender, Tommy Lee Royce. Norton is best known for his TV roles in Grantchester, War & Peace, McMafia and The Trial of Christine Keeler. He's also starred in films including An Education, Rush and the 2019 adaptation of Little Women.

Siobhan Finneran is back as Catherine’s sister, the recovering addict, Clare Cartwright. Period drama fans will recognise Finneran from her role as the bitter lady’s maid, O'Brien, in Downton Abbey. You may also know her from various crime dramas including The Stranger, The Widow and A Confession.  

Catherine’s grandson Ryan will also return to the show, although it’s not known whether Rhys Connah - the young actor who played Ryan in the first two series - will reprise the role, or whether it will be recast. 

Further casting will be announced in due course. 

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What will happen in Happy Valley season 3?

*WARNING: Spoilers below for seasons 1 and 2*

When Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, it sparks a chain of events that unwittingly leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce. 

Her grandson Ryan is now 16 and still living with Catherine, but he has ideas of his own about what kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father. 

Still battling the seemingly never-ending problem of drugs in the valley and those who supply them, Catherine is on the verge of retirement

Where is it filmed?

Happy Valley is filmed and set in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. 

According to Yorkshire Live, the majority of scenes in the first two seasons of Happy Valley were shot in Sally Wainwright's native Sowerby Bridge. Filming also took place in Huddersfield, Meltham and Keighley.

What happened at the end of series 3?

Happy Valley Catherine Cawood played by Sarah Lancashire BBC/Red Productions

The first two seasons of Happy Valley saw Catherine struggle to manage her career as a police sergeant, with her complex and tragic personal life, in the Yorkshire valleys. 

We discovered that Catherine is still coming to terms with the death by suicide of her daughter Becky, who was brutally raped by Tommy Lee Royce. Catherine is bringing up Becky’s young son, Ryan, who was a product of the rape.

The end of series 2 left many questions unanswered about Ryan’s relationship with his dad, Tommy Lee Royce. Catherine wants her grandson to have nothing to do with Royce, who is forbidden from having any contact with Ryan.

However he tries to build a relationship with Ryan in season 2 using covert means. Ryan's family are concerned with the questions he's asking about his dad, suggesting series 3 will explore this complex father/son relationship, and its impact on Catherine.

When does Happy Valley series 3 start?

Filming for series 3 will begin in early 2022, so we’ve got a while to wait for the new series. We expect it will air on BBC One in late 2022 or early 2023, but we’ll keep you posted when we get any further updates. 

You can binge-watch the first two seasons of Happy Valley on BBC iPlayer now.