Happy Valley is a world away from Benidorm’s holiday larks. Was that why it appealed to you?


It was Sally Wainwright’s script that hooked me. It’s very rare that you get sent all six episodes of something and read it in one sitting. I do love those shifts of gear you get as an actor, weaving a haunting dark drama with a bit of daft sunbed acting.

Do you prefer comedy to straight drama?

I honestly don’t have a preference. I like to find drama in the comedy I do and a bit of humour in the drama. You can always find comedy in the darkest places – something that Sally does really well.

Who or what do you wake up to?

I don’t have anything on in the morning. Because I’m usually writing [he co-wrote BBC2 comedy drama Inside No 9 with League of Gentlemen co-star Reece Shearsmith] I wake up with a head full of different voices and ideas so I fear that listening to others jabbering away will erase my thought processes.

What programme do you never miss?

I love Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip. It’s a beautiful travelogue that makes you want to go to those places. But it’s also a very different way of making a comedy programme – with the two of them playing loose versions of themselves. It’s funny and it makes me want to hang out with them.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I’m ashamed to say I really enjoyed watching the musical drama Smash. It was absolutely dreadful pap but I devoured two series of it.

What was the last programme that made you cry?

Weirdly, it’s sporting events that get me. With high definition TV you can really see the emotion on people’s faces and what it means to them. The London Olympics Opening Ceremony when the old athletes handed their torches to the youngsters had me welling up.

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Who or what do you turn over?

I’m not big on anything to do with cooking, sewing or DIY. I find those soft reality shows a turn-off.

Who was your first TV crush?

Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now. There was a sex scene that intercut between her and Donald Sutherland going to bed and getting dressed afterwards. As a 13-year-old boy that just blew my mind and stirred all kinds of feelings.

Do you ever Google yourself?

I have done occasionally, to show my kids pictures of the characters I’ve played. I don’t do Facebook or Twitter because that’s like putting a big funnel into your head that people can pour whatever they want into. I don’t want to give anyone that sort of access.

Happy Valley is on Tuesdays at 9:00pm on BBC1.

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