Last Tango in Halifax writer Sally Wainwright set to start filming new drama in Hebden Bridge

Filming for series two of Last Tango in Halifax at the Monte Carlo Coffee Lounge, Crossley Street, Halifax
Filming for series two of Last Tango in Halifax at the Monte Carlo Coffee Lounge, Crossley Street, Halifax

Who says crime doesn’t pay? Not Calderdale-educated writer Sally Wainwright who struck TV gold with her cop drama Scott and Bailey and is hoping to repeat the success with her dark new drama Happy Valley.

For Sally, who went to Sowerby Bridge High School, the South Pennine hills have long been a rich source of inspiration - and Happy Valley, which will star Sarah Lancashire and is about to go into production, will be no exception.

Sally Wainwright

Sally Wainwright

In the meantime the second series of the family drama Last Tango in Halifax - starring Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi - is currently being filmed. When the first series was screened last year it went down a storm with viewers and won Sally a BAFTA in April against strong competition.

“Calderdale people will be pleased to hear that we’ve used more local locations this time round! I know people like to watch to see if they can spot places they know,” she said.

It’s been a busy time for Sally, who has been hard at work writing the fourth series of Scott and Bailey, starring Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones, which will go into production next spring.

Both Last Tango in Halifax and Scott and Bailey feature compelling performances from the lead actors.

A scene from Scott and Bailey with Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharpe

A scene from Scott and Bailey with Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharpe

“When we started filming Last Tango it was clear to see the chemistry between Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi - and it’s similar with Lesley and Suranne. Something magical seems to happen when they’re on the screen and I think viewers really relate to their characters.”

Happy Valley, which will start filming in mid-October, will have Sarah Lancashire playing a community support officer with a complicated home life. Much of it will be filmed in the upper Calder Valley and Hebden Bridge and the production team will set up a base at Dean Clough in Halifax.

“It’s going to be funny and dark. I like to think of it as a cross between Juliet Bravo and Fargo. Sarah plays an ordinary woman who works in her community and has a very rich but complicated personal life. In some ways she lives a typical modern family life with her sister and grandson in Hebden Bridge - but her work takes her into dark places.”

Sally is a big fan of dark American comedies such as Breaking Bad and Nurse Jackie and also ‘Scando-dramas’ such as Wallender and The Killing.

“I like to find humour even in dark situations - I don’t like things to be unremittingly grim,” said Sally who now lives in Oxford and also wrote the successful At Home with the Braithwaites and Unforgiven.

Sally will be making two personal appearances in Calderdale in October. On Friday October 4 there will be an audience with Sally at Berties Banqueting Suite In Elland with all proceeds going to the Halifax and Calder Valley Branch of the MS Society.

She will talk about how she found her voice as a writer and answer questions from members of the audience. The evening will include a three-course meal and tickets are available on 01484 720673 or 07921 237962.

On Thursday October 24 Sally and Karen Willis, producer of Last Tango in Halifax, will give a talk for Creative Calderdale at the Elsie Whiteley Centre, Halifax. For details visit

Did you know?

* Sally was born in Huddersfield in 1963 and went to Triangle C of E Primary School and Sowerby Bridge High School.

* The Yorkshire landscape has been a huge influence on her work.

* The story for Last Tango in Halifax was partly inspired by the story of her own mum who fell in love with her second husband through Friends Reunited.

* Her next TV drama Happy Valley will be set in and around Hebden Bridge - filming starts this autumn.