If you thought the Grantchester Christmas special was the most you’d see of James Norton this festive season (perhaps barring a few episodes of War & Peace on catch-up), then think again – because the actor made a surprise cameo appearance in tonight’s new period drama To Walk Invisible, which told the story of the writing sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë along with their wayward brother Branwell.
Early on in the story younger versions of the Brontë siblings are playing a game where their toy soldiers seem to magically come to life – and the mini-Duke of Wellington is none other than Norton, reuniting with To Walk Invisible’s writer/director Sally Wainwright after making his name in her critically-acclaimed BBC drama Happy Valley.
James Norton (right) as the Duke of Wellington in To Walk Invisible
And clearly, the Happy Valley loyalty to Wainwright runs deep, with several other actors from the Bafta award-winning crime series popping up in small or cameo roles.
Most notable among these is Charlie Murphy (who plays kidnap victim-turned copper Anne Gallagher) as lead character Anne Brontë, but eagle-eyed fans may also have noticed Joe Armstrong (who played kidnapper Ashley in Happy Valley’s first series) as a man called William Allison who delivers a warning to Branwell, and Rhys Connah (wayward grandson Ryan in Happy Valley) as messenger boy Thomas Mallinson (below).
Of course that’s not forgetting Jill Baker, who briefly plays Aunt Branwell in To Walk Invisible and was Helen Gallagher in Happy Valley, or young actors Matt Adams and Jamie Dorrington, credited as various “lads” in Happy Valley and playing Captain Parry/ Jack Sharp and Enoch Thomas respectively in the Brontë drama.
In short, the stars shouldn’t be too worried about the break Sally Wainwright’s taking before making the next series of Happy Valley – she’s clearly keeping them all very gainfully employed.