Meet the ex-Yorkshire police officer helping to make Happy Valley TV’s grittiest crime drama

Samantha Manning pictured at home in Honley near Holmfirth. Samantha was the police advisor to the new series of Happy Valley. She has 30 years experience with West Yorkshire and Humberside Police. 10th Febuary 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Samantha Manning pictured at home in Honley near Holmfirth. Samantha was the police advisor to the new series of Happy Valley. She has 30 years experience with West Yorkshire and Humberside Police. 10th Febuary 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
0
Have your say

It’s the critically-acclaimed television drama that’s been praised for its gritty and authentic depiction of life and policing in West Yorkshire.

And as the first episode of Happy Valley’s second series airs this week to rave reviews, former police officer Samantha Manning is among those able to feel proud at the adulation it is receiving.

Filming starts in Crown Street, Hebden Bridge for the new Happy Valley series.

Filming starts in Crown Street, Hebden Bridge for the new Happy Valley series.

After a 32-year policing career serving in two Yorkshire forces, the mother-of-five from Holmfirth was asked to be a policing advisor to the show as producers aimed to repeat the success of its debut season.

Unhappy Valley: Viewers moan at ‘mumbling’ Yorkshire dialect

Interview: Happy Valley’s Sarah Lancashire - My last tango in Sowerby Bridge

Some 6.5 million people tuned in last night to see Sarah Lancashire play damaged but determined West Yorkshire Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood taking on personal and professional challenges in the Calder Valley.

We all have these frailties but police officers can’t show them to the public. They take on these stressful situations and have to try and show the stiff upper lip that we are famous for in this country.

Samantha Manning

Ms Manning, who retired from Humberside Police in 2014, joined former West Yorkshire Police officer Lisa Farrand as police advisor, offering help to Huddersfield-born writer Sally Wainwright with the plot and advice to the actors on producing convincing performances.

Using her experience as a senior officer, the 50-year-old helped Kevin Doyle, whose detective character is being blackmailed by his jilted lover, and Vincent Franklin, who plays the officer leading a murder investigation, to hone their portrayals of police officers.

She said: “Sally Wainwright starts with her ideas, and she has a brilliant mind in terms of this stuff. There is an element of ‘this is what I am thinking’ and Lisa and myself will put our views. That is why Happy Valley is, in my estimation, the best because it is so realistic.

“It is quite an in-depth process before you get to the production stage. We were involved in developing the storyline, when it is in production Lisa and myself have quite a bit to do with all the characters.

Sarah Lancashire stars in the new series of Happy Valley

Sarah Lancashire stars in the new series of Happy Valley

“It is not just about delivering the lines for the actors. Sally likes to get us on set speaking to them.

“They want to know how you would be, how you carry yourself. Police officers are human beings at the end of the day. People think they’re different but they’re not.

“They seemed really interested in getting into the psychology of it, as well as just delivering the lines.”

After joining West Yorkshire Police as a Police Cadet at the age of 17, Ms Manning was initially based in Huddersfield but worked on projects in most areas of West Yorkshire.

Samantha Manning pictured at home in Honley near Holmfirth. Samantha was the police advisor to the new series of Happy Valley. She has 30 years experience with West Yorkshire and Humberside Police.
10th Febuary 2016.
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Samantha Manning pictured at home in Honley near Holmfirth. Samantha was the police advisor to the new series of Happy Valley. She has 30 years experience with West Yorkshire and Humberside Police. 10th Febuary 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

She moved to Humberside Police in 2003 after being promoted to Chief Inspector, then served as head of community safety at the rank of Superintendent.

As a teenager she planned to be a barrister, and despite making a switch to policing, partially inspired by the TV series Juliet Bravo, she has also completed a law degree at what was then Leeds Metropolitan University.

Ms Manning was invited to interview for the Happy Valley role by Lisa Farrand, a former Huddersfield WPC and friend of writer Sally Wainwright who was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2002.

She said: “I know Lisa from the local gym just to say hello to, I got a message asking if I would be interested in going along for an interview. I know they wanted someone who had been a Superintendent and had recently retired.

“I was interested, people think ‘it sounds really interesting, I wonder how these shows are made’. I went in and had a meeting with the boss at Red Production and the rest is history. I ended up on the team for Happy Valley Series Two.

“Lisa was involved from Season One, so she was well-established and had done a great job. It worked out really well.”

The second series of Happy Valley has received lavish praise from critics

The second series of Happy Valley has received lavish praise from critics

Though some viewers have complained about not being able to hear the dialogue, with one suggesting that subtitles were needed to cover the Yorkshire dialect, critics have been full of praise for the first episode of the second series.

One critic described the show as “fabulous drama”, adding: “It is refreshing and lovely to have people on television talking like people not on television.”

Ms Manning said: “When I was approached I felt very privileged and excited about it. I watched season one and thought it was fabulous.

“I have worked 32 years in the police service, they work very hard and get a bad rap. We are all humans who make mistakes. It takes all sorts, and it’s good if you can bring something to it in terms of a sense of realism.

“Watching episode one I felt privileged that I was able to help, even if it is just a little bit, to bring that to the general public.

“I have five kids and have had challenges in my life. In any organisation you get outstanding people, you get people having challenges and problems and people having a bad day.

“We all have these frailties but police officers can’t show them to the public. They take on these stressful situations and have to try and show the stiff upper lip that we are famous for in this country.”

Nearly half of those charged were over 35

Police charge 15 drink or drug drivers from Leeds so far this month