We're only in the second week of January and we can say with confidence that Happy Valley's Rob Hepworth already takes the crown for a***hole of the year.


Alongside the BBC drama's core cast, creator and writer Sally Wainwright has introduced a raft of fresh faces, one of whom is Rob, Ryan's football coach.

He's a pig of man – and even that description feels too kind.

When he's not subjecting his wife to physical and emotional abuse, he's harassing Catherine Cawood's grandson ("skidmark", as he refers to him).

Rob is an abusive, noxious presence who gives Tommy Lee Royce a run for his money, and that really is saying something.

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Ryan and his teacher Rob Hepworth in Happy Valley
Ryan and his teacher Rob Hepworth in Happy Valley. BBC

Rob is played by Mark Stanley and if you're an avid TV watcher, particularly British telly, his face will be familiar to you.

Who is Mark Stanley?

In 2022, he appeared in ITV's Trigger Point alongside Vicky McClure. He played DI Thom Youngblood, who was in a relationship with McClure's Lana Washington.

He also appeared in ITV true crime drama The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe as the son of John and Anne Darwin. The former faked his own death to get his hands on his life insurance money.

You might also recognise Stanley from season 3 of ITV crime drama The Bay, BBC thriller The Girl Before and Netflix's Criminal: UK.

He also starred as Henry VIII in Channel 5's Anne Boleyn, which received widespread attention for Jodie Turner-Smith's casting as the titular character.

Jodie Turner-Smith and Mark Stanley in Anne Boleyn. Channel 5

Stanley's credits include ITV true crime drama White House Farm, in which he played the husband of Sheila Caffell, who was murdered by Jeremy Bamber along with their step-parents at the family home in Essex.

And Sanditon fans will know him as Lord Babington, who was on a mission to woo Charlotte Spencer's character Esther Denham in season 1.

Who is Mark Stanley in a relationship with?

Stanley is in a relationship with Rochenda Sandall, who has appeared alongside him in Criminal, Jimmy McGovern's Broken and Kay Mellor's BBC drama Love, Lies and Records.

Sandall is best known for her role in Jed Mercurio's Line of Duty. She appeared in season 5 as Lisa McQueen, a gang member who had several memorable scenes alongside Stephen Graham's John Corbett.

Rochenda Sandall in Line of Duty (BBC)
Rochenda Sandall in Line of Duty (BBC).

You might also have watched Sandall in the Mangrove episode of Steve McQueen's Small Axe, Prime Video's The Rig with Martin Compston and Channel 4 true crime drama Deceit starring Niamh Algar.

She also played the character of Azure in season 13 – aka Flux – of Doctor Who.

"A lot of the baddies have got that destructive element to them," she told Doctor Who magazine. "Although I use the term 'baddies' very loosely because of course they don't see themselves as bad. They see themselves as misunderstood."

Happy Valley continues on Sunday 15th January 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 Guide or visit our Drama hub for more news and features.


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