It’s time for another match-up between female TV detectives — this battle sees Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison of the pioneering Prime Suspect taking on the formidable force of Sergeant Catherine Cawood from Happy Valley.
We came to know Jane Tennison of London’s Metropolitan Police, memorably played by Helen Mirren, through six series of gripping cases (1991-2003), all of them well plotted and superbly acted. As one of the first female Detective Chief Inspectors, Tennison fights against the entrenched sexism of a predominantly male service and holds her own. Professional success is her driving force, and she pursues it at the expense of her personal life.
To date, there have been only two series of Happy Valley (2014, 2016) in which to become acquainted with West Yorkshire police sergeant Catherine Cawood (a knock-out performance by Sarah Lancashire). And yet Catherine makes an emotional impact and seizes our imagination in a way which Jane Tennison never does.