Happy Valley: Podcasters shut down ‘bonkers’ theory
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Many locals even believe its fame could rival nearby Holmfirth, which still benefits from fans of Last Of The Summer Wine. The show reaches its conclusion on Sunday, and as Sarah Lancashire’s Sgt Catherine Cawood prepares for the final showdown with serial killer Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), fans have been flocking to the BBC drama’s real-life locations. And businesses and residents in the town eight miles west of Halifax say they are more than happy to be reaping the financial benefits, particularly with the current cost-of-living crisis.
Butcher’s shop owner Dan Gibbons, 30, said: “Happy Valley is a fantastic show with some great acting.
“It is a much darker series than Last Of The Summer Wine, but it is still bringing in the visitors.”
Nisa corner shop owner Martin Turner, 46, who has worked at the store 16 years, said: “Despite the cost-of-living crisis we are seeing plenty of people turning up to take selfies outside.
“There seems to be a lot more interest in the show this year with everyone knowing it is the final one.
“Sarah Lancashire came in a few times to do her shopping while she was filming and staying in a flat over in Albert Street.
“She was very friendly but very quiet about what they were filming. I suppose she did not want to give anything away.”
One of the customers, window cleaner Richard Hirst, 52, said: “I have never watched a single episode so I was wondering why Hebden had suddenly become so popular with the tourists. We have seen what Last of the Summer Wine did for Holmfirth, and with so many people tweeting about Happy Valley, the same could happen here.”
Former Coronation Street star Sarah, 58, was a frequent customer in cafes and shops. One cafe owner said: “She never had anything fancy – just a bacon roll, a decaf, tea cakes, scones – that kind of thing.”
James Incles, 44, a former merchant banker who now runs Hebden’s Sarnies, said: “Sarah came in her for breakfast and I did not know who she was.
“She was lovely. She lives just down the road where I used to live in London so we were chatting for ages.
“After she left, the guy who owns the clothing shop over the road said ‘Do you know who you have just had in here? Sarah Lancashire’.”
And for James, the spotlight falling on the town which is home to 4,500 people, has brought a much-needed boost. “I usually expect to lose money in February, but the whole place has been crazy,” he said.
Sgt Cawood’s screen home is occupied by a family who prefer to remain out of that spotlight. But they said: “All we can say is that is a great show and we are very excited to see the final episode.”
Some residents have complained about disruption during filming and the depiction of Hebden Bridge, “as a hot bed of crime and depravity when it is a lovely place to live”, as one irate local resident put it.
But High Street butcher Stephen Maskill, 63, said: “We have got shops, scenery and serenity now.
“But all mill towns have traditionally been poor areas so the series is not always that far away from the truth.
“I have been here for 40 years and when I came, half these shops were boarded up.
“They were even knocking the old stone houses down that would be worth a bomb today. So this has put us on the map and the whole area has benefited.”
Mark Lord’s family home backs on to number 29 Cleveland Place – Sarah’s screen home – overlooking the steps where she filmed many of her scenes. Mark, 57, who was born and bred in the town, said: “I have only good things to say about it.
“Hebden Bridge is on the up. It used to be terrible in the 1960s.
“It has reflected the place fairly accurately and it’s a great show.”
Filming may have caused inconvenience in the town – but it has also got the cash registers ringing.
Martha Howard, 48, who runs The Squeeze cafe, said: “It’s busy when they’re filming. It upsets some locals because their roads get closed but it brings a lot of people in to see what’s going on. Sarah Lancashire came in a few times and when the crew came you’d be doing 30 coffees.”
Jemma Barraclough, 35, and Georgia Brown, 27, only opened their coffee shop, The Excited Goat, six weeks ago in the town centre and have been overwhelmed by the response.
Gemma said: “We are quite new but we have been very, very busy with it being the final series of Happy Valley.
“We have seen a lot of posts on social media from businesses saying ‘Tommy Lee Royce is barred’ which has become a bit of running joke.”
Millions have tuned into the series and other filming locations have been happy to cash in.
Bolton’s Amico cafe, also featuring in the series, has made headlines with its £8.95 Happy Valley Sandwich, a ciabatta roll, packed with chicken, prosciutto, ham, mozzarella, pesto, chilis, red peppers and rocket, and served with chips
But one thing has got the fans foxed – where is the location of new screen villain Faisal’s pharmacy?
It turns out it does not exist.
The “chemists” is a private house down a side street in Elland, a market town ten miles away.
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