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Sarah Lancashire holds back tears during emotional speech after winning big at NTAs

The Happy Valley actress won in the Drama Performance category


Sarah Lancashire with the award for Returning Drama for "Happy Valley" in the National Television Awards 2023 Winners Room at The O2 Arena© Jeff Spicer,Getty
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
September 5, 2023
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Sarah Lancashire was visibly moved when she picked up the award for Drama Performance at the National Television Awards on Tuesday evening. The actress won big for her performance as Sergeant Catherine Cawood in the gritty BBC drama, Happy Valley.

Later in the show, she picked up the Special Recognition Award for her incredible contribution to television acting.

WATCH: Sarah Lancashire visibly moved as she wins big at NTAs

The star first took to the stage at London's O2 arena when the Sally Wainwright-penned series picked up the award for best series. Sarah, along with the bosses and the extended cast behind the show, collected the award and was seen holding back tears.

Shortly after, Sarah collected her award for Best Drama Performance. She began telling the audience: "Thank you so much for this. I have adored every scene, every moment of Happy Valley. And I know I will never forget it, nor the brilliant people that I've worked with, the way the BBC have supported us."

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Sarah Lancashire and Ian McKellen© David M. Benett
Sarah Lancashire and Ian McKellen

"I have to say some things about Sally Wainwright because she is Happy Valley, she is what makes it, her writing is so extraordinary, her characters are extraordinary and anyone who is in receipt of those words is the luckiest actor in the world, in truth."

Sarah continued and made sure to give a shoutout to her co-stars on the programme. "To James Norton, to Siobhan Finneran who has been my partner in crime for three years and she is an extraordinary actress." She finished by saying: "My family walk every step of the way with me, and I am so incredibly lucky to have them in my life."

The cast and crew of Happy Valley accept their NTA at London's O2 Arena© Jeff Spicer
The cast and crew of Happy Valley accept their NTA at London's O2 Arena

Not only did Sarah win big for Happy Valley, but she also received the Special Recognition Award. A video montage played on screen, with Sarah watching from the audience, showing plenty of her former co-stars discussing the huge talent that is Sarah.

Nicola Walker, who starred alongside Sarah in Last Tango in Halifax, said: "She doesn't care about what you think of Sarah Lancashire. The ego is not there. She only cares about the story."

Accepting the big win, she told the audience at the O2: "I am exceptionally lucky to have enjoyed every moment [of my career]."

Sarah plays Catherine Cawood in the hit BBC show, Happy Valley© Ben Blackall
Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood

She continued: "There are also enablers who stand very quietly in the wings without expectation or due credit, and they are my family, my husband, my children, my friends, my agent, Nick, thank you. And of course, a very vital component in all this is you, the audience."

Happy Valley aired its third and final season earlier this year and went down a treat with fans. Returning to screens many years after the previous two seasons, the story picked up seven years on from the story with Ryan now a 16-year-old and Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) serving a lengthy prison sentence. 

Sarah Lancashire and Susan Lynch as Catherine and Alison in Happy Valley© Matt Squire
Sarah Lancashire and Susan Lynch as Catherine and Alison in Happy Valley

Speaking candidly about ending the BAFTA-winning show after three seasons, Sally Wainwright explained: "It didn’t feel like a relief. It’s good to know when to stop. I didn't want it to drag on, 

"I didn’t want it to become a shadow of itself. I wanted it to be remembered. I was hoping desperately that people would respond to the last series in the way that they had the first two, and it wouldn’t be thought of as a bad ending to what had otherwise been a good series."

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