Happy Days for British Drama Buffs

After swamping viewers with a rash of American mediocrities, from long-in-the-tooth vets like Criminal Minds and Castle to toothless newcomers Blindspot, The Family, Code Black, Secrets & Lies and The Astronaut Wives’ Club, TV One at last is about to rediscover what used to distinguish it from the competition: premium British drama.

In a bold move reminiscent of its successful multi-night experiment with Doctor Foster, it will strip three nights a week series two of Happy Valley.

The six-part thriller will premiere May 30 and for two weeks air 8.30 Monday-Wednesday.

Excluding re-runs, quality UK drama of late has been absent from TV One’s schedule, most notably 8.30 Sundays, where its traditional slot has been hi-jacked by Blindspot.

Costume dramas like War and Peace and Wolf Hall have wound up as streaming exclusives on Lightbox, Prime scored Downton Abbey and one of the most satisfying British thrillers in years, Unforgotten, TV3 recruited The Night Manager and Humans, and Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders, Ripper Street and Dickensian have spruced up Sky’s channels.

These days TV One owns only a handful of top British drama properties, chiefly Broadchurch (which it aired months after the show riveted the rest of the world), the overrated, overwrought but popular Doctor Foster, the sumptuous Indian Summers and Happy Valley.

Series two of the BAFTA-winner drew an extraordinary 9.3 million viewers for its finale in March, gripping viewers as much as critics.

“Second series, like second albums, are supposedly hard to pull off, but yesterday’s episode was better than its equivalent in 2014,” said The Times of the premiere. “It was a very strong, very well-plotted return and, as Catherine, Sarah Lancashire was terrific.”

Concurred The Telegraph: “Comeback series of acclaimed crime dramas have tended to disappoint recently. ITV’s Broadchurch and HBO import True Detective both suffered disastrous cases of second series syndrome. Would Happy Valley fall victim to the same drop-off in quality? On the evidence of this superlative opener, absolutely not.”

While TV One has made us wait too long to catch up with Sarah Lancashire’s West Yorkshire copper, kudos to the network for its innovative programming of a series that couldn’t be more binge-worthy.

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3 Responses to “Happy Days for British Drama Buffs”

  1. Kind of off topic, Philip, but do you think we will have the new Prison Break screened here? It looks excellent :)

  2. Bound to, Trevor, but not sure on what platform. Would be a natural for TV3 since it aired the original and would be a good drama fit for the channel. But it could end up on TV2 given its new relationship with 20th Century Fox (The Simpsons, Empire) — as happened with the last Fox reboot, The X-Files. Then again, an earlier Fox reboot, 24: Live Another Day, went exclusively to Lightbox and despite no longer being on the streaming service, remains missing in action on Blu-ray.

  3. Thanks Philip, looking forward to seeing what happens :)

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