Happy Valley voted best TV programme of 2014

Poll shows our love of quality crime and detective drama is alive and well

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It might have attracted as much controversy as it did viewers but Sally Wainwright’s gritty crime drama Happy Valley has been named the best TV programme of 2014 - beating established contenders like Doctor Who and Sherlock in the process.

The unrelentingly bleak drama, starring Sarah Lancashire as a Hebden Bridge police sergeant, contained graphic depictions of kidnap, rape and murder. But despite a slew of complaints for its “gratuitous” violence the drama topped a Radio Times poll of the best programmes of the year.

The poll was dominated by homegrown shows. Line Of Duty, about a police anti-corruption unit and starring Keeley Hawes, was second while the third series of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock completed the top three.

The Trip To Italy, Michael Winterbottom's comedy drama starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, was fourth followed by US drama True Detective, featuring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

The Honourable Woman, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, was next followed by Toast of London, featuring Matt Berry as an eccentric, middle-aged actor, and Detectorists, Mackenzie Crook's series about metal detecting enthusiasts.

Doctor Who - the first series in which Peter Capaldi starred as the Time Lord - was ninth while US import Homeland was tenth.

The annual poll was voted for by Radio Times critics.

RadioTimes.com editor Tim Glanfield said: "The critics' top five shows that our love of quality crime and detective drama is alive and well, with both the darker, grittier side represented, in shows like Happy Valley, Line of Duty and True Detective, as well as the fun side of mystery-solving in Sherlock.

"But it's nice, too, to see a real mix in the top 10, with left-field comedies like The Trip to Italy, Toast of London and Detectorists sitting alongside political thrillers - and of course Peter Capaldi in his first outing as Doctor Who."

Radio Times critics Top 10 programmes of 2014

1. Happy Valley, BBC1

2. Line of Duty, BBC2

3. Sherlock, BBC1

4. The Trip To Italy, BBC2

5. True Detective, Sky Atlantic

6. The Honourable Woman, BBC2

7. Toast Of London, Channel 4

8. Detectorists, BBC4

9. Doctor Who, BBC1

10. Homeland, Channel 4