Sally Wainwright: Happy Valley violence wasn’t gratuitous

Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright has defended the show’s violence.

The Sarah Lancashire series – which proved to be a ratings success for BBC One last year – was the subject of complaints following violent scenes involving the actress and co-star James Norton.

At the end of the series’ fourth episode, viewers saw Norton’s character Tommy Lee Royce viciously attack police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Lancashire), leaving her in critical condition.

Speaking at a BAFTA Screenwriting event in London, Wainwright said: “I wanted it to be a lot more violent than it was. Charlotte [Moore], the Controller of BBC One, wanted me to pull the violence back, but I didn’t want to do it.

“I didn’t think it would be controversial. I thought the fuss that was made was ridiculous. Violence is horrible and we shouldn’t pretend it isn’t, but it was part of the story.

“It explained who this man is and the lengths he is prepared to go to. He is a psychopath and he will do that. It should be awful to see a woman we love treated like that.”

She added that the complaints should have been directed at BBC Two series The Fall for its lingering shots of dead female bodies.

“I don’t think it was gratuitous,” she argued. “I think people made a fuss and looked at the wrong show. The Fall, which was on just before us, had these shots of beautifully lit female bodies which we lingered on for ages. That was gratuitous, this wasn’t.”

Happy Valley has been commissioned for a second series by BBC One, but a transmission date has yet to be announced.

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