It’s TV’s biggest cliffhanger since Who Shot JR – Happy Valley’s producers filmed FIVE endings 

Producers of BBC’s hit drama Happy Valley are so desperate to keep its climax a secret that they have filmed five different endings.

More than six million viewers are expected to tune in next Sunday to learn how the cat-and-mouse game between police sergeant Catherine Cawood and her psychopathic nemesis, Tommy Lee Royce, will be resolved.

But not even the stars know how the drama will conclude, as creator Sally Wainwright wrote several alternative conclusions to ensure no spoilers would leak from the set.

One source close to the show said: ‘The scripts were seen by those who needed to see them but even they haven’t given away how things will come to an end because the scenes were filmed in different ways.’

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More than six million viewers are expected to tune in to learn how the game between police sergeant Catherine Cawood and her psychopathic nemesis, Tommy Lee Royce, will be resolved

Creator Sally Wainwright described the final scenes of the show as 'pretty dramatic' (Pictured: Cawood's nemesis, Tommy Lee Royce)

Creator Sally Wainwright described the final scenes of the show as ‘pretty dramatic’ (Pictured: Cawood’s nemesis, Tommy Lee Royce) 

The denouement is said to be as eagerly awaited as the 1980 episode of American soap opera Dallas, which finally gave an estimated 83 million viewers the answer to the cliffhanger question ‘Who shot JR?’ – eight months after the show’s arch-villain was attacked.

The Happy Valley source added: ‘From the beginning of the planning of series three, Sally and her team wanted to end the show in a sensational way and give viewers an ending they won’t forget. She also didn’t want any spoilers to ruin things.

‘It is going to be epic, and all the more so because nobody knows the ending. It has been really cleverly done to keep fans guessing right up until the very end.’

Ms Wainwright has given a broad clue about the final moments of Happy Valley, confirming ‘a very big face-to-face showdown, the kind of cathartic showdown that people have waited for.’ She also describes the last scenes as ‘pretty dramatic.’

It is expected that they will feature former Coronation Street actress Sarah Lancashire, 58, facing off against James Norton, as Sgt Cawood and Royce respectively.

It is also likely that Cawood’s grandson, Ryan – also Royce’s son after he raped the police officer’s daughter Becky – will feature.

One of the biggest questions raised by the show is the nature versus nurture debate, with Ryan at its centre. Viewers have been left to guess whether the teenager, played by Rhys Connah, would take after his evil father or his admirable grandmother.

In one of the main plot points of the series, Cawood learned that Ryan was secretly visiting Royce in prison, orchestrated by her sister Clare, played by Siobhan Finneran.

Last Sunday, Royce escaped from court while being sentenced for his part in the killing of a gangster – having previously promised to take Ryan bungee-jumping.

Other storylines include the murder of a man who was found in a reservoir when it was drained and the killing of troubled mum Joanna, thought to be at the hands of chemist Faisal Bhatti.

Ryan is expected to play a huge part in the final episode as the reason Ms Wainwright left seven years between series two and three, was to wait for Connah to become 16 – old enough to play such a pivotal role. It has prompted much discussion whether Cawood and Royce will both die after a huge showdown, or whether Royce would kill Cawood or vice versa?

Others are speculating that Ryan will kill his father and save his grandmother – who is due to retire from the police force and travel across the Himalayas – while others say Ryan will kill her.

Or will Clare redeem herself by killing Royce and saving Cawood?

Whatever the outcome, next Sunday’s episode will be the end of the road for Happy Valley, as Wainwright has said she always envisaged the show running for three series.

She said: ‘We always said this would be the final season and it is very definitely the final season.’

And Norton, 37, has said that knowledge gives the series an added frisson.

‘Everyone knows it’s the last and so everyone is going to be waiting for something to happen, and everyone is predicting and guessing how Sally wants to end it,’ he said.

‘I have been predicting for the last seven years how she is going to end it so it was really wonderful to read the script and hear her ideas – and they didn’t disappoint.’

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