Happy Valley star opens up on ‘bittersweet’ final season

Happy Valley: James Norton sets the scene for BBC crime show

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In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Happy Valley star Shane Zaza opened up about working on the last series. Zaza has been part of Happy Valley since season one in the role of police officer Shafiq Shah, one of Catherine Cawood’s (played by Sarah Lancashire) junior colleagues, and often gets stick from her over his rookie errors. Like the rest of the cast, Zaza returned to the series after six years away to reprise his role.

The 39-year-old, who also counts credits in the BBC’s Press, Will and Everything I Know About Love, admitted coming back to the show felt like no time at all.

He said it felt like “six or seven days” as opposed to years with the cast all getting “straight back” to it.

Zaza admitted it felt “peculiar” given how long ago season two was but concluded it “all fell into place”.

On the season three shoot, he said: “As filming is, it’s all out of sequence. We all kind of wrapped up at different times.

“I had to move on to a couple of different jobs. So I left at a separate moment.”

Adding: “It was bittersweet but life goes on. I’m sure we’ll see each other, work with each other again. It’s how it goes.”

The third outing will see things coming to a head between Catherine and her nemesis Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).

At the centre of the story will be Tommy’s son Ryan Cawood (Rhys Connah), whom the criminal wishes to form a relationship with.

Additionally, there’s a mafia storyline running with the stakes really being raised and lives on the line.

In the wake of Happy Valley’s success as well as Wainwright’s HBO series Gentleman Jack, more production companies are now flocking to the area to film.

The shows have also led to an increase in tourism in the area with viewers visiting the real-life locations.

Zaza, who is from Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, praised Happy Valley for shining a spotlight on the region.

Reflecting on the positive impact of Happy Valley, which has gained an international following, Zaza said: “Amazing, especially being a Yorkshire boy.

“Only a handful of things have really hit home especially internationally, so it was a pleasure and an honour really to be part of it. It’s always going to be great memories for me.”

Although Zaza remained drawn on any plot details, he did said he was happy with how his character’s arc ended.

He said: “I think so. I’m just so pleased the show has managed to have a beautiful three seasons. I’m just glad to back and be part of this good little show.

“I think it’s realistically one of the best shows the UK have ever produced, certainly the BBC. I’m just proud to be part of that really.

The star is now busy with some other projects, saying: “Basically, I had to go on straight away [after Happy Valley] to a show called Best interests, which is coming on the BBC later this year.

“So that was with Sharon Horgan and starring Michael Sheen. It’s an incredible cast we had. I filmed that.

“Then I also filmed a show for Apple TV+, so I was away for seven months, so I only just got back.”

Happy Valley season 3 airs on BBC One on Sundays at 9pm

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