03/06/2014 13:53 BST | Updated 03/06/2014 13:59 BST

'Happy Valley' Star Sarah Lancashire - 8 Things You Didn't Know

Sarah Lancashire has just pulled it out of the hat again - the emotional finale of 'Happy Valley' proving that, whatever viewers want from their midweek drama, she has it.

Her gut-wrenching turn as Catherine Cawood, the bereaved policewoman stumbling into the past via her present investigation, is only the latest in a string of work, proving her to be one of the country's finest, most absorbing actresses.

She's been a longtime familiar face, but is notoriously private off-screen, so how much do we actually know? Well..

  • Raquel Watts was her breakthrough role, but the lovelorn aspiring model wasn't the first character she played on 'Coronation Street'. In 1987, she appeared - very briefly - as Wendy Farmer.
  • And… she had an even earlier connection with the cobbles. Her father, Geoffrey, was an early scriptwriter on the series, penning hundreds of episodes.
  • During the early part of her career, Sarah supported herself between acting gigs with work as a drama teacher at Salford University. She continued to do this for a whole year, after she started appearing in 'Corrie' as Raquel - initially on a three-month contract.
  • When she finally left the Street in 1996, her exit was drawn out over three episodes and drew 20 million viewers.
  • When Sarah signed an exclusive 'golden handcuffs' deal with ITV in 2000, she was the first TV actress to be offered this kind of contract.
  • Sarah has one son with her husband, ITV exec Peter Salmon, and two sons with her previous husband Gary. Between them, she and her husband have six sons in total.
  • She may be a Northern sweetheart, but she actually trained in London, graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1986.
  • After years in 'The Street', 'Where The Heart Is' and 'Lark Rise to Candleford', Sarah earned her first BAFTA gong for 'Last Tango In Halifax' also written by 'Happy Valley' scribe Sally Wainwright. "She doesn't just write brilliantly for women," said Sarah of the woman who brought her prize-winning character into being. "She writes for everyone. She's brilliant."

'Happy Valley' finishes this week, but is still available on BBCiPlayer.

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