Happy Valley season 3 - All you need to know about the final series of Sarah Lancashire police drama

Happy Valley season 3 has got us all hooked - Sarah Lancashire, James Norton and Siobhan Finneran lead the cast in the final outing for Catherine Cawood.

By Sophia Moir Updated: 5 January 2023 - 10.25am

It’s been six long years since Happy Valley last aired on BBC One, but on New Year's Day Catherine Cawood returned to action in the Calder Valley.

Season 3 of the gritty police drama will be the last and the show’s creator Sally Wainwright has written six episodes to conclude the story of Cawood and her nemesis, the dreaded Tommy Lee Royce.

With all the main cast including Sarah Lancashire, James Norton and Siobhan Finneran reprising their roles, we round up everything we know so far about the multi-BAFTA-winning Happy Valley, including the episode release dates, filming locations and a catch-up guide to the story so far.

How many Happy Valley episodes are there?

Season 3 has six episodes, which are being released weekly on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

The finale will air on Sunday, 5 February.

Season 3 won't be available to binge until the series concludes, meaning we'll all have to watch the series the old-fashioned way together on Sunday evenings.

Where can I Watch Happy Valley season 3?

Happy Valley series 3 will premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Sunday nights at 9pm.

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

Happy Valley season 3 - First five minutes released early

The BBC has released the five-minute pre-credits sequence from the third and final series of Happy Valley.

Sarah Lancashire quickly reminds us of Sergeant Catherine Cawood's dry wit and detective skills as a gangland murder victim is found in a drained reservoir.

The discovery sparks a chain of events that leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce [James Norton] as the two characters go head-to-head one final time.

What is the Happy Valley series 3 release date?

Happy Valley season 3 premiered on Sunday 1 January 2023, New Year’s Day, at 9pm, on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. 

Explaining the long wait for season 3, the show's creator Sally Wainwright said that she wanted the cast to age to match the next part of the story - Ryan deciding his own relationship with Tommy Lee Royce

"It’s been great that we got Rhys back to play Ryan which has been fantastic, and he has done a really lovely job in that," said Wainwright.

"That was always the intention, to have a gap and it has worked out just about right. Just the right period of time because he is now 16, so he can travel places by himself, he can make choices. He can do things behind Catherine’s back.

"The intention developed through conversations I had with Sarah to make it a three-parter, to make a trilogy. We always said this would be the final season and it is very definitely is the final season."

Happy Valley season 3 cast - full list

  • Sarah Lancashire - Sergeant Catherine Cawood
  • James Norton - Plays Tommy Lee Royce
  • Rhys Connah – plays Ryan Cawood
  • Siobhan Finneran – Plays Clare
  • Ishia Bennison – Plays  Joyce
  • Shane Zaza - Plays Shaf
  • Chord Melodic - Plays Sledge
  • Mete Dursun – Plays Gorkem. 
  • Con O’Neill - Plays Neil Ackroyd
  • George Costigan – Plays Nevison Gallagher
  • Charlie Murphy – Plays Ann Gallagher
  • Derek Riddell - Plays Richard Cawood
  • Karl Davies – Plays Daniel Cawood
  • Susan Lynch - Plays Alison Garrs
  • Rick Warden – Plays Mike Taylor
  • Vincent Franklin - Plays Andy Shepherd

New for season 3

  • Amit Shah (The Other One, The Long Call) – Plays Faisal Bhatti 
  • Mark Stanley (Trigger Point, White House Farm) – Plays Rob Hepworth
  • Mollie Winnard (All Creatures Great And Small, Four Lives) – Plays Joanna Hepworth
  • Oliver Huntingdon (The Rising) – Plays Ivan
  • Jack Bandeira (Sex Education) – Plays Matija
  • Alec Secareanu (God’s Own Country)
  • Anthony Flanagan (Gentleman Jack) – Plays Victor

Sarah Lancashire - Catherine Cawood

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.

BBC/Red Productions

Talking about the enduring appeal of Catherine Cawood, writer Sally Wainwright said:  "I think it’s Sarah Lancashire’s performance. I think that she is an extraordinarily empathetic performer.

"I think she conveys the real subtleties of the tiny, tiny moment-by-moment thoughts in everything she does. The audience really engage with her."

The show's creator added; "Right from the first series, I had her in my head which really helped when I was creating the character. To be able to see her and have some pretty clear idea of how she would deliver the lines."

James Norton - Tommy Lee Royce

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.

BBC/Red Productions

Talking about the challenges of playing a psychopath, Norton said: "Tommy is an enigma and a puzzle and a kind of terrifying mess. Genuinely, I am still kind of working him out.

"I did a lot of work into psychopathy and was introduced to some behavioural psychologists and criminal psychologists who were really wonderfully helpful in excavating Tommy and the mindset that he has."

The McMafia star added: "He sees everything and everyone as a hostility and a potential threat. I think he feels like the way to live a happy life in his head is to be on the defensive and to attack before he gets attacked. It’s quite a sad, lonely space that Tommy lives in."

Siobhan Finneran - Clare Cartwright

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.  

BBC/Red Productions

Talking about where we find Catherine's sister at the start of season 3, Finneran said: "She has sort of moved on a little bit from the last series because she is now living with Neil, her boyfriend, so she’s now moved out of the house that she shared with Catherine.

"But she’s still there a lot of the time because they kinda have the care of Ryan. Clare’s in a good place this time around, I think the second series we saw her and she’d fallen off the wagon but that’s not happened for some time, as far as we know."

Finneran added: "My happiest memories on set are the scenes with Catherine and Clare, the catch up chats with cups of tea and a smoke or the big explosive ones.

"I love the relationship between the two sisters and it’s what people talk to me about most when they talk about the show. I love working with Sarah, it’s magical and I think that shows in the scenes, there’s a genuine love and affection between us."

Rhys Connah - Ryan Cawood 

Catherine’s grandson Ryan Cawood will also return to the show, with Rhys Connah (The White Princess) returning to the role, playing a 16-year-old teenager.

BBC/Red Productions

Explaining how Ryan's curiosity about his father will impact the events in season 3, Connah said: "Ryan has a confusing relationship with Tommy because obviously Tommy tried to kill him… But then he's heard all this stuff saying 'Oh, he was sick', so he's questioning what Tommy is.

"He hears all this stuff about Tommy, about how he was a psychopath, a murderer, but Ryan’s now at a stage where he wants to judge for himself, as there’s enough doubt there, and of course he wants his dad to be a good man so he wants to believe things are different now."

Returning cast members for season 3

The final series will also see the return of Happy Valley favourites Ishia Bennison as Joyce, Shane Zaza as Shaf, Chord Melodic as Sledge, and Mete Dursun as Gorkem. 

It's also been announced that Con O’Neill will reprise his role as Clare’s recovering alcoholic boyfriend Neil Ackroyd. George Costigan will return as Nevison Gallagher, with Charlie Murphy as his daughter and Catherine’s police colleague Ann.

They will be joined by other Happy Valley returning favourites including Derek Riddell as Richard Cawood, Karl Davies as Daniel Cawood, Susan Lynch as Alison Garrs, Rick Warden as Mike Taylor, and Vincent Franklin as Andy Shepherd.

New cast members for season 3

Amit Shah (The Other One, The Long Call), Mark Stanley (Trigger Point, White House Farm) and Mollie Winnard (All Creatures Great And Small, Four Lives) join the cast for series three, and will play pivotal roles in Happy Valley’s final chapter.

Happy Valley newcomers Oliver Huntingdon (The Rising), Jack Bandeira (Sex Education), Alec Secareanu (God’s Own Country), and Anthony Flanagan (Gentleman Jack) will also appear in series three. 

What is the plot of 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 leads her straight back to Tommy Lee Royce [James Norton].

Her grandson, Ryan [Rhys Connah], is now sixteen and has ideas of his own about the kind of relationship he wants to have with the man Catherine refuses to acknowledge as his father, leaving Catherine’s sister Clare [Siobhan Finneran] caught in the middle.

In another part of the valley, a local pharmacist gets in over his head when a neighbour is arrested.

Where is Happy Valley season 3 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.

Filming for the new series kicked off in January 2022 in the town of Halifax, West Yorkshire. 

Cast and crew were spotted filming on Bath Place, off Boothtown Road.

Photos on social media have also been shared of filming at Hebden Bridge, which is about 20 minutes away.

Filming will continue in and around West Yorkshire over the coming months. 

Is there a Happy Valley season 3 trailer?

Yes, you can watch the Happy Valley season 3 trailer at the top of this page.

Also, you can watch a short teaser video below. 

What happened at the end of series 2?

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.

Happy Valley catch-up - Season 1 and 2, the story so far...

It's been seven years since Happy Valley was last on BBC One (and nine since season 1), so you could be forgiven for forgetting the details of what happened in the Yorkshire crime drama.

Thankfully, the BBC have come prepared with a video recap of season 1 and 2 that handily brings you back up to speed with events in the Calder Valley.

In season 1 there was a kidnap drama involving Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), Kevin Weatherill (Steve Pemberton) and Ashley Cowgill (Joe Armstrong) that ended up being taken over by recently released prisoner Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).

The kidnap drama brings Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) back on a collision course with Royce, the man she despises for raping her late daughter Becky. The season concludes with a dramatic narrowboat showdown as Cawood saves her grandson Ryan (Rhys Connah) from Royce - who has discovered that he is Ryan's father.

In season 2, Tommy Lee Royce has ended up behind bars and is serving a life sentence, but he uses an obsessed fan (Shirley Henderson) to connect with his son Ryan and cause havoc for Catherine.

Meanwhile, Catherine also finds herself implicated in a murder case and police detective John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle) ends up at the centre of the drama after he murders Victoria Fleming (Amelia Bullmore) and attempts to portray her death as another victim of a local serial killer. At the end of season 1, Royce is banned from having visitors, but his son Ryan wants to reconnect with his dad and sends him a card in jail, lifting his father's spirits.

Happy Valley season 3 airs new episodes on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. 

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