ON Sunday night, Sergeant Catherine Cawood headed off towards a Himalayan sunset, leaving death, carnage and some of the maddest newspaper eulogies you’ve ever read in her wake.
“Happy Valley,” claimed one writer, who hasn’t watched a lot of telly, “was the best-ever show.” Which it wasn’t.
Which it wasn’t.
“Happy Valley,” said someone else, offering slightly more perspective, “was the greatest crime drama ever.”
Which it still wasn’t.
Maddest of the lot, though, inevitably came from The Guardian, who’d commissioned former senior Met policeman Dal Babu to expand on the theme that: “Happy Valley shows how policing should be done.”
It’s alarming news if it does, because the fictional Yorkshire plod didn’t send up a helicopter when murdering psychopath Tommy Lee Royce was on the loose, the picture they released to the Press looked like it had been taken in his early Grantchester days and there were no armed guards placed outside Cawood’s Hebden Bridge house.
Nor would there have been in real life, until such time as the fugitive sent a transphobic tweet.
The inevitable conclusion to all of Dal’s self-serving cant, though, was that the BBC1 series had shown “diversity matters”.
Well, up to a point, Dal, I suppose.
That point being the very obvious truth that writer Sally Wainwright is either unwilling or completely unable to write significant male characters, who nearly all ended up dead or under arrest in the Happy Valley finale.
Of the rest? Neil, Rhys, Nev, Daniel and Richard simply vanished into the Yorkshire gloom while poor old DSU Andy Shepherd was just left shaking his silly old male head at the brilliance of Cawood, who’d also solved the Joanna Hepworth murder over a piece of toast at Alison Garrs’ flat.
And then, of course, there is Tommy Lee Royce himself, who represents my biggest beef with Happy Valley.
Because, as TV villains and bogeymen go, he was just a bit rubbish, wasn’t he?
And wouldn’t have had any impact at all unless they’d found someone as talented and photogenic as James Norton to breathe some sort of intrigue and menace into him.
Even he, though, couldn’t do much with the final confrontation, where 20 minutes alone with some family photo albums and pictures of son Ryan was all it needed to turn him into a sobbing sentimental wreck and leave a reported 50 per cent of the viewers feeling sorry for him.
It’s hardly the conclusion you were meant to draw, but I was having similar thoughts due to the dialogue, which began sounding like one of Vic and Bob’s old Living Carpets sketches just before he torched himself.
“F*** off.” “No, you f*** off.” “You sanctimonious bitch.” “F**** off, you moron.” “F*** off, you bitch.”
Much more of that and you too might have set fire to yourself as well, though it should not blind us to the amazing trick Sally Wainwright pulled with Happy Valley.
Endings, as both Game Of Thrones and Line Of Duty demonstrated, are not easy and tend to go wrong when a show has lingered too long.
But she, whether you thought it was a good episode or not, drew every single thread together, right down to the “I love cock” graffiti on Rob Hepworth’s car.
Indeed, the only real indulgence — and it was a beautiful one — was Gorkem Tekeli app- lying for the fictitious job of Alien Liaison Officer.
It’s an attention to detail unmatched anywhere else on domestic television, though I don’t think for one moment Happy Valley’s success will benefit our schedules, which will probably become even more clogged up with straight, white male psychopaths and female corpses.
It’s a mercy that both Wainwright and the remarkable actress who played Cawood will have too much work and integrity to bring back their greatest creation.
But, I promise, even as the final credits were rolling, all the biggest numb-nuts in TV documentaries were thinking the same thing: “Sarah Lancashire’s Road To The Himalayas: A very personal journey into blah and blah blah blah.
Unexpected morons in the bagging area
CELEBRITY Mastermind, Clive Myrie: “What’s the name of the narrow channel that separates the Isle of Wight from mainland England?”
Suzie Lee, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland: “The Irish Sea.”
Clive Myrie: “Which former Conservative MP and Strictly Come Dancing contestant calls her website the Widdyweb?”
Suzie Lee: “Darcey Bussell.”
Clive Myrie: “What’s the usual six- letter term for a thin slice of bacon intended for grilling or frying?”
Remi Burgz: “A slab.”
CHANNEL 4’s Ofcom-backed rules: “Programmes dealing with matters of political or industrial controversy or matters related to current public policy must be duly impartial.”
Channel 4, Friday night, The Last Leg, Adam Hills: “How do we feel about the strikes? We’re supportive, right?”
Michelle de Swarte: “Yeah.” David Tennant: “Of course.”
Channel 4, taking the p**s since 1982.
Great sporting insights
KRIS BOYD: “The hardest thing to do is to keep it simple.”
Paul Merson: “Newcastle had chances but not what you’d call good chances. Longstaff and Wilson had good chances, though.”
Rachel Brown-Finnis: “Arsenal have shown character, depth and also character.”
(Compiled by Graham Wray)
INCIDENTALLY, among all the rest of her lies and evasions, Shamima Begum told BBC2 on Tuesday she should be allowed to return to Britain to tell youngsters how foolish she was to run away and join the IS death cult.
A service she already provides perfectly by the sight of her festering away in that fly-blown Syrian desert.
So maybe just leave her there then, hey.
BARBIE BEYOND MY KEN
JOBBIE-BOTHERING Scottish twins Alana and Lisa Macfarlane continue to go where angels fear to delve on Channel 4’s Know Your St: Inside Our Guts.
Patients this week included fireman Wayne, who said his bowel movements “look like a pat”, without specifying whether it was Nevin or Jennings, and a South African woman called Carmel, who claimed she was suffering from bloating and “wit futts”.
A condition previously unknown to medical science, until the subtitles clarified: “Wet farts”.
The one who really popped my eyes and left the twins scrabbling for a decent follow-up question, though, was a cheerfully defiant woman called Ellie, who revealed her “disintegrating colon” had left her with no other option than to get “a Barbie butt”, before she went on to explain: “A Barbie butt is where you have your bum taken out and sewn up.”
(Pause) . . . “And dating and stuff?”
Well, I can’t comment on behalf of any other blokes, but Ken’s fine with it because he’s got no genitals.
A QUICK reminder that the second run of Clarkson’s Farm (the so-called “Ow! F***” series) arrives on Amazon today.
I’ll file a longer review when the column returns on February 24, but think the show is so funny, beautiful and educational it should prompt you to take out a subscription, if you haven’t already got one, and cancel it if Amazon’s ever cowardly enough to drop Clarkson.
Random TV irritations
CLIVE MYRIE claiming: “You don’t have to be a celebrity to take part in the regular Mastermind.” (Or the celebrity version).
The Last Leg’s Josh Widdicombe chilling me to the bone by accidentally calling Angela Rayner “the Deputy Prime Minister”.
The utterly deranged suggestion, prompted by Happy Valley’s success, that TV has been suffering from a lack of middle-aged female policewomen.
And Matt Hancock, who quit politics to pursue some “exciting opportunities”, which we now discover included sitting two seats down from Paul Chuckle in the Dancing On Ice audience.
Paul, you’re better than that.
Lookalike of the week
ON EastEnders, terminally ill Lola asks: “What’s going to happen if I die . . . when I die?”
7/1 Postcode Lottery adverts, 3/1 Dancing On Ice and it’s even money for “resting”.
PUTIN Vs The West (BBC2). Bill Maher’s glorious demolition of “a woke revolution” on Real Time: “You think you can change reality by shouting at it?”
Thousands of Welsh fans belting out Delilah, in defiance of the WRU’s crackpot banning order, at the Six Nations.
Duhan van der Merwe’s “mic drop” try in Scotland’s latest victory over England.
And a punter called Paul Stratton who lived out every football fan’s dream by coming on as a substitute for his team (Everton), on Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.
And wasn’t nearly as awful as Dele Alli either.
MEANWHILE on Friday’s edition of Amanda & Alan’s Italian Job building renovation show, Amanda Holden said: “I don’t think I thought about cracks and rendering and possible stuff that was going to go wrong with the plaster.
“I thought, a lick of paint, that’ll be enough.”
And I’m still not 100 per cent sure if she was talking about the building renovation or hair and make-up.
Great TV lies and delusions
The John Bishop Show, host: “Nicola Sturgeon is like that geography teacher who you fancy but you don’t know why.”
Though it’s possibly because you’re a pupil at Edinburgh’s Royal Blind School.