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Is this the real reason Sarah Lancashire won't return to Happy Valley?

The BBC drama ended with series three

catherine and clare happy valley
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
9 March 2023
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Happy Valley star Sarah Lancashire has opened up about the reasons why the hugely popular BBC drama won't be back for a fourth series. The crime drama, which also stars James Norton, was always due to be a three-chapter story, according to writer Sally Wainwright, but now the leading star has revealed her reasons for not wanting to return to future episodes.

The Catherine Cawood actress made a fresh comment while paying a visit to Buckingham Palace on Wednesday where she met Queen Consort Camilla, who confessed her love for the BBC drama, to celebrate International Women's Day.

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley© Photo: BBC

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley

Sarah spoke of the ending and told the royal that the grueling aspect of playing Catherine had finally caught up with her. "It's the right thing to do, I just cannot keep doing it," she told Camilla, adding it had taken an "emotional toll" on her, before stating that continuing would "kill me."

Meanwhile, Sarah recently revealed that she was initially unhappy with the final episode of Happy Valley series three. The show's creator, Sally Wainwright, explained how Sarah was keen to "push things further" in the finale's final moments.

MORE: Happy Valley star James Norton’s next project revealed - and it sounds brilliant

MORE: Happy Valley stars address show ending amid backlash

James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce takes swig of drink© Photo: BBC

The show will not return in the future

"Sarah and I had a long conversation because I handed the first draft in and everybody else seem very happy with it but she wasn't and we had a very long conversation about it and she wanted to push things much further," Sally told Jane Garvey and Fi Glover's Times Radio podcast. Watch the video below to see Catherine Cawood's final scenes in Happy Valley.

WATCH: Catherine Cawood finds out about Faisal Bhatti

She added: "I honestly can't remember the intricacies of it, my memory is terrible and it's over a year ago, but my memory of it is that she just wanted to push everything a lot further than I pushed it and she was right to do that".

The final episode saw Catherine and her long-running nemesis Tommy Lee Royce come face-to-face after he escaped from prison. After a tense faceoff in Catherine's kitchen, Tommy set himself on fire and eventually died later in the hospital.

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley© Photo: BBC

Sarah spoke about the 'emotional toll' of the role

Elsewhere, Catherine celebrated her retirement, and the pharmacist Faisal Bhatti came onto the police's radar after he killed Joanna Hepworth earlier in the series.

After being initially arrested for murder, Joanna's abusive husband Rob Hepworth was charged with possession of indecent images.

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