LONDON - Acclaimed hard-hitting police drama Happy Valley is to return for a third and last series. The award-winning show follows Sarah Lancashire as police officer Catherine Cawood, tackling crime in the Yorkshire borough of Calderdale. James Norton will return to play the murderer and sex offender Tommy Lee Royce, with Siobhan Finneran reprising her role as Catherine’s sister. The second series ended in 2016 with an average audience of 9.3 million. On her return to the part of Catherine, Lancashire said: “It’s time to let the dog see the rabbit,” while Norton described taking “Tommy on one final time” as “a wonderful and daunting privilege”. For the six-part series three, which begins filming in early 2022, Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir.I t sparks a chain of events that again unwittingly leads her straight back to Royce. The first two series created by Sally Wainwright each won Bafta TV awards for best drama series and best writing. Lancashire also won a Bafta for best leading actress for series two. Her character in both series was seen grappling with intense and brutal storylines that centred around cases of rape, multiple murders, drugs, kidnapping and human trafficking.

Norton’s character Royce was often implicated in such terrible crimes.

Catherine had to deal with this brutality while trying to navigate a complicated home life, which involved raising her grandson after his mother, who was raped resulting in the pregnancy, took her own life.

While Happy Valley series one and two garnered more than healthy audiences and rave critic reviews, there was disquiet expressed by some over the amount of violence and graphic content, but Wainwright defended such scenes.

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Wainwright, who hinted at the return of the series at the Edinburgh TV Festival earlier this year, said of the announcement: “It’s been wonderful to see the lasting impact this series has had on audiences all over the world.

“I’m thrilled that Sarah, James and Siobhan are back on board for what I hope will be the best season yet.”