Happy Valley is one of the most popular crime dramas of the modern era for the BBC and after three seasons still has fans talking about the exploits of Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) and Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) as they embark on a game of cat and mouse with Ryan (Rhys Connah) at the centre.
And as with any popular drama that captures the imagination of the viewing public, there is always one question on everyone’s lips when an explosive season ends – is there going to be any more of the show? In this case, specifically, will Happy Valley season 4 ever happen, and if so when?
Will there be a Happy Valley season 4?
Sadly, for fans of the show, the answer to this question, it appears, is a firm no. And although there was a gap of nearly seven years between season two and season three of Sally Wainwright’s brilliant crime show, the people behind Happy Valley have made it clear that however long we wait, there won’t be more Happy Valley – season three is the last.
And there appear to be a couple of reasons for this – one is a practical one with the way the story has developed, and the other is a decision from the key people behind the show that they want the series to go out with a bang rather than fade away.
Time is moving on
The executive producer of Happy Valley, Will Johnston, has spoken about the way the storyline had brought the story towards a natural conclusion as they picked up again seven years after season two.
“The two vital things are that Rhys [Connah, the actor who plays Ryan Cawood] is now at an age to make his own decisions about his life and the relationships in it, and Catherine’s [Cawood, Sarah Lancashire’s character] on the brink of retirement, and those felt like such juicy things to explore,” he told an audience at the BFI when season three was launched in December 2022.
But this isn’t the only reason why there won’t be a Happy Valley season four. Because surely there are always ways of working around age and retirement if there is a will to continue a series.
But as Johnston noted, sometimes it’s better to go out on a high rather than continue too long with a series – something that creator Sally Wainwright and star Sarah Lancashire appear to agree on.
Sally Wainwright and Sarah Lancashire agree
“It definitely isn’t coming back – and again this is [from the creator and star] Sally and Sarah who completely and rightly feel that you can have too much of a good thing…” Johnston said at the launch of the season.
He added: “We’re really not doing any more. You’re a few weeks away from the ending but when you get to it, I really hope you’ll feel content that if that’s the last you ever see of the characters of Happy Valley, it was a big way to go out.”
And creator Sally Wainwright has also said that she thinks it’s the right time to stop the show, telling Radio Times magazine that they had made a “definite decision that this [season 3] was going to be the final season”.
Added Wainwright: “Just because it’s been successful, we weren’t going to let it drift on until it became a pale shadow of itself.”
Wainwright echoed this view in a conversation with GQ, stating: “During filming of series two, Sarah and I started talking about doing the final series and being really clear that it was a final series.
“Sarah is always really good at knowing when to stop doing stuff. I thought it would make a really clear statement that this is the end of the story. It’s been a fantastic series, but we’re going to make a really definite finale. You never know how anything’s going to go down, but I think we’ve done a good job.
OK, that sounds pretty final, so perhaps we’re all going to have to adjust to life without Happy Valley in the future.
Oh well, all good things come to an end, but if you’re keen to explore more shows like Happy Valley, why not check out this video below… hopefully it will scratch your British crime drama itch while Sally Wainwright cooks up a new brilliant series for us all to enjoy…
You can watch Happy Valley on BBC iPlayer in the UK.