Happy Valley co-stars were in an '80s classic film and it’s really filthy

by 24britishtvJan. 22, 2023, 1 p.m. 13
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Happy Valley is the gold standard of British TV drama and stars some of our best actors, spanning all generations. And while we all know Sarah Lancashire found her acting feet in Coronation Street, another Happy Valley pair started their early careers in a very 1980s, very rude and very funny film which was a snapshot of life in the north at that particular time.

Siobhan Finneran (Clare) and George Costigan (Neville) first starred opposite each other in the 1987 Alan Clarke film, Rita, Sue and Bob Too. The saucy comedy-drama showed Finneran and co-star Michelle Holmes (Goodnight Sweetheart, Emmerdale and Coronation Street) as a pair of teenagers from a rundown Bradford estate who embark on an affair with the married man (Costigan) they babysit for.

The characters get into all sorts of scrapes, some too naughty to describe here, and there's a disco scene featuring 1980s kids' pop party legends, Black Lace, doing a rendition of The Gang Bang (definitely not a kids' party track).

Read more:Happy Valley fans hail Sarah Lancashire as GOAT after 'best TV scene in years'

In 2017, Empire reunited the stars 30 years after its release, with Costigan proud of the honest way the film depicted life at that time, depite the fact it shocked many with its open depiction of sex. He told the magazine: "The film is true. And remains true as long as you’ve got an underclass and an underclass that says, ‘I can’t think of anything to do, let’s have a f*cking shag.’”

In the same year Costigan also spoke to The Guardian about the film and its director, Alan Clarke, saying: "Alan’s life was devoted to working-class culture, but he’d never made a film that was funny. He insisted we didn’t get heavy and gritty. He wanted to make a film that celebrated the working classes. The message was: “Look, we’ll laugh through anything.”

Finneran has said of the film and starring with Costigan again: "That was something scary like 36 years ago. But we stayed friends and it’s lovely to be in scenes with George again. Actually, I have his wife, Julia North, to thank for my entire career. Even after the film was released, I still didn’t have an Equity card so I couldn’t work. Jules was working at the Half Moon theatre down in east London and cast me in the chorus for this show called Poppy. It was about the opium wars but done like a pantomime. I ended up half of a horse called Randy. I was the back end of Randy, but it finally got me an Equity card. Bless Jules – and Randy – because God knows what I’d be doing now."

Now reunited in the BBC primetime hit, Happy Valley, Finneran plays Clare Cartwright, lead character Catherine's sister, and Costigan is businessman Nevison Gallagher whose daughter Ann is kidnapped in series one. The Gallaghers form a friendship with Catherine Cawood and her family, with Ann (Charlie Murphy) going on to join the police force in series two and form a relationship with Cawood's son, Daniel, by series three. For more showbiz and TV news, sign up to our newsletter here.

Happy Valley airs on BBC One on Sundays at 9pm
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