The Ultimate Event TV: How Happy Valley Defies Ageism and Sexism in the Television Industry
Brown, L. (2023). The Ultimate Event TV: How Happy Valley Defies Ageism and Sexism in the Television Industry. Reflections: A TV Foundation Review. 1 (1).
The return of the crime thriller Happy Valley to BBC1 after a seven-year hiatus has been a momentous event in British television drama, hailed by critics as a masterpiece of the twenty-first century and dubbed Yorkshire's answer to The Wire. At the heart of the show's success lie two remarkable women, both in their late fifties: Sarah Lancashire, who delivers a captivating performance as the lead character, police sergeant Catherine Cawood, and Sally Wainwright, the creator and writer of the series. Despite the evident talent and contributions of women in the television industry, the field remains largely dominated by men. While women tend to occupy administrative positions such as heads of production and commissioning editors, they remain underrepresented in key craft roles, such as writers and directors. A study conducted by the Writers Guild of Great Britain revealed that only 28% of UK television episodes are written by women, resulting in a dearth of substantive roles for women over forty, which dwindles to a mere 3% for women over sixty. However, Happy Valley's runaway success as a high performing network programme, with over seven million viewers, offers a glimmer of hope that archaic sexist and ageist tropes can be challenged and that audiences can enjoy a vast array of original stories that accurately reflect the diversity of women at every stage of their lives.
|Keywords||Happy Valley, Women in Television, gender equity, ageism and sexism|
|Journal||Reflections: A TV Foundation Review|
|Journal citation||1 (1)|
|Publisher||Edinburgh TV Festival|
|Publication process dates|
|Accepted||18 Apr 2023|
|Deposited||03 May 2023|
|Accepted author manuscript|
Accepted draft - The Ultimate Event TV: How Happy Valley Defies Ageism and Sexism in the Television Industry
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