Happy Valley: James Norton says finale showdown had callback to series one episode

Tommy Lee Royce actor said Sally Wainwright 'laid hints' for viewers in 2014

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 07 February 2023 10:49 GMT
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Happy Valley final episode trailer

James Norton has highlighted a callback to the first series of Happy Valley featured in the final episode.

The last ever instalment of the BBC One drama aired on Sunday (5 February), providing a satisfying conclusion for many viewers.

*Spoilers follow .you have been warned*

The episode, written by creator Sally Wainwright, saw Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) have a showdown with a wounded Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) around the kitchen table in her own home.

Throughout an extended scene, the pair spoke about Tommy’s behaviour, with the criminal, who previously wanted to kill Catherine, revealing that he’s happy she raised his son Ryan (Rhys Connah) and “forgives” her for keeping his identity a secret for many years.

He seems to draw this conclusion after looking through albums filled with photos of Ryan as well as his mother, Tommy’s ex Rebecca, who fell pregnant after he raped her.

Norton pinpointed a similar scene from series one during an interview about the finale.

He told GQ: “There is this constant question ‘is Tommy a psychopath?’ and I have talked about this with people in the production and Sally and Sarah.

“The hints were almost laid in the very first series, in episode five, when he’s just been stabbed and he’s facing his own mortality, his own death. And he’s sitting in that high rise and he bursts into tears. He thinks, ‘s***, I’ve wasted my life and if I had a different childhood maybe I could have been something in me.’

Norton said of the episode, which aired in 2014: “And if you think back to there, that was where Sally was already planning and carving out this ending I think, because there is humanity there.

James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce in ‘Happy Valley’ series one
James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce in ‘Happy Valley’ series one (BBC)

The actor gave his own verdict on his character’s mindset, stating: “My final conclusion on Tommy is that I don’t think he is a psychopath; he’s just incredibly damaged.”

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Norton said he used Tommy’s “fairytale dream” of living with Ryan in Marbella as evidence of this, adding: “A person who is void of feeling and empathy – if anything I was playing someone completely opposite.”

“I recognise that there are absolutely despicable acts, which he has committed along the way. But along that journey, I have been with him for ten years, I feel deeply sorry for him. I feel immense pity and empathy and I sort of really love him.”

Find the finale’s talking points here, and a feature detailing why Happy Valley is one of Britain’s greatest-ever cop dramas here.

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