The long-awaited third season of Happy Valley is finally upon us, bringing Yorkshire police officer Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) back onto our screen.


The third season sees Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) discover the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, sparking an unfortunate series of events that leads her to Tommy, the father of her grandson Ryan and her late daughter’s rapist.

Happy Valley season 3 certainly has big boots to fill after a monumental first and second season, but it looks like there's no need for concern in this department, if show writer Sally Wainwright's recent comments are anything to go by.

Talking about how she was nervous replicating the huge success of seasons 1 and 2, Wainwright told “I was really anxious not to write a duff third season. I really don’t think it is. There’s a very definite climax."

She added: "A narrative has gone across all three: in season 1, Catherine and Tommy came face to face outside Ryan’s school, and in season 2 they almost came face to face in the crematorium, at Tommy’s mum’s funeral. In season 3, there’s a very big face-to-face showdown. The kind of cathartic showdown that people have waited for. It’s pretty dramatic."

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The BBC previously released new images giving us a glimpse at James Norton's Tommy Lee Royce (below) languishing in prison after the crimes he committed in season 1, as well as Ryan (above), now a teenager played by Rhys Connah.

Mollie Winnard in Happy Valley S3
Joanna Hepworth (Mollie Winnard) with Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley. BBC

Joining the trio in the third season are a bunch of familiar faces, including Ishia Bennison as Joyce, Shane Zaza as Shafiq, Chord Melodic as Sledge, and Mete Dursun as Gorkem.

There are also some new cast additions to look forward to, specifically The Rising's Oliver Huntingdon, Sex Education's Jack Bandeira, God's Own Country's Alec Secareanu and Gentleman Jack's Anthony Flanagan.

Read on for everything you need to know about Happy Valley season 3.

Happy Valley season 3 release date and schedule

Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley.
Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley. BBC

Happy Valley season 3 premiered on New Year's Day at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

Wainwright previously said she was “delighted” that the series would return for a third instalment.

“It’s been wonderful to see the lasting impact this series has had on audiences all over the world,” she continued. “I’m thrilled that Sarah, James and Siobhan are back on board for what I hope will be the best season yet.”

Norton (McMafia, Grantchester) said: “To take on Tommy one final time is a wonderful and daunting privilege, and something I’ve been looking forward to since we wrapped the last series, six years ago. I’m so excited to be working with the insanely talented Sally and Sarah again. Thinking we should all go on one last barge holiday, for old times’ sake.”

Back in 2016, after the second season had aired, Wainwright revealed she wouldn't bring back police sergeant Catherine Cawood until she had time to write a good enough script.

“What we’ve decided is that because I’m so busy with other projects at the moment, I haven’t got time to sit down and come up with the stories,” she told BBC Breakfast, adding: “What I’d hate to do is do a third series and people say it wasn’t as good. So I want time to go away and really come up with stories that I think are going to make a third series."

Happy Valley season 3 release schedule

The show will air weekly at 9pm on Sundays on BBC One and is not being released as a boxset.

So, fans will have to wait a little while for each episode to drop.

How many episodes are in Happy Valley season 3?

Tommy Lee Royce in prison wearing his prison uniform with stitches on her forehead
James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley season 3. Lookout Point/Matt Squire

As with the previous two seasons, Happy Valley season 3 will consist of six episodes.

All six episodes are expected to run for the best part of an hour.

The episodes are being aired weekly on BBC One and BBC iPlayer and will not be available as a box set until after the sixth and final episode of the season has aired.

Who stars in Happy Valley season 3?

Amit Shah in Happy Valley
Faisal Bhatti (Amit Shah) in Happy Valley. BBC

The full cast of Happy Valley season 3 has been confirmed.

MotherFatherSon and Last Tango in Halifax star Sarah Lancashire plays police sergeant Catherine Cawood, whose teenage daughter Becky died by suicide. She's helping to raise her grandchild, Ryan, the son of Becky and her rapist Royce.

Other central characters from the previous season are returning as well, including Rhys Connah as Ryan, Siobhan Finneran as Catherine's sister Clare Cartwright, and James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce.

Con O’Neill will also be back as Clare's boyfriend Neil, with Rhys Connah (Ryan Cawood), George Costigan (Nevison Gallagher), Karl Davies (Daniel Cawood), Susan Lynch (Alison Garrs), Rick Warden (Mike Taylor), Charlie Murphy (Ann Gallagher), Derek Riddell (Richard Cawood) and Vincent Franklin (Andy Shepherd) all set to return too.

In addition, BBC One has revealed Amit Shah (The Other One, The Long Call), Mollie Winnard (All Creatures Great and Small, Four Lives) and Mark Stanley (The Girl Before, White House Farm) will all be making an appearance in Happy Valley’s final chapter in “pivotal roles” as yet undisclosed.

Happy Valley season 3 plot

Happy Valley's Rhys Connah as Ryan Cawood
Happy Valley's Rhys Connah as Ryan Cawood BBC

Happy Valley season 3 will feature a murder mystery that brings Sergeant Catherine Cawood face-to-face with her old adversary, Tommy Lee Royce (Norton).

“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,” the official BBC synopsis says. “Her grandson Ryan is now sixteen 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 cusp of retirement.”

Producer Nicola Shindler previously suggested in 2017 that the third series of Happy Valley could centre on Catherine's grandchild Ryan, conceived after Catherine's daughter was raped by Royce (Grantchester's James Norton).

“Sally is thinking about a story and the story she is thinking about literally needs time. Because if you look at the characters that are left, there is Sarah, there is James Norton and there is a young boy who, the minute he turns into a teenager, it becomes a much more interesting story," Shindler said.

“She doesn’t know what the story is yet. She is mulling it in her head but we are thinking about giving it a bit of space in story terms.”

Why was Happy Valley season 3 delayed?

Rhys Connah as Ryan Cawood in Happy Valley
Rhys Connah as Ryan Cawood in Happy Valley season 3. BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire

Wainwright told back in July 2019 there was a very good reason for the long hiatus, as Becky's son and Catherine's grandson Ryan (Rhys Connah) needs to get older before the next chapter in the series.

“Basically we’re kind of waiting for the little boy to grow up, so he’s more of a teenager than a child,” she said. And, as for the long break between seasons 2 and 3: “That’s always been the plan. We never intended to do it again straight away."

Furthermore Wainwright also has numerous other TV projects on the go. In the time since Happy Valley last aired she's brought new series Gentleman Jack to the screen and also written another season of Last Tango in Halifax.

Is there a trailer for Happy Valley season 3?

The BBC released a teaser trailer, which you can watch below.

Watch this space for the full-length trailer.

How to watch Happy Valley online

For fans hoping to catch up with the two seasons that have already been broadcast, Happy Valley is available to stream on BBC iPlayer and BritBox.

Happy Valley season 3 continues on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. The first two seasons are available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.

If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guideor visit our Drama hub for more news and features.


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