Happy Valley has broken the record for the most watched TV show of 2023 (Picture: BBC)

*Contains spoilers for the final episode of Happy Valley.*

Happy Valley’s fiery series finale was watched by a record 7.5 million people on Sunday night.

The figures, published by Broadcast, an independent source for British TV news, confirmed that Happy Valley will be the most watched BBC show in 2023.

In the ‘masterpiece’ finale, Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) confronted her longtime nemesis Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).

Royce, on the run after escaping prison, broke into Sgt. Cawood’s abandoned house, where the two faced each other.

After revealing that he no longer wanted to kill her, Royce set himself on fire after swallowing a deadly combination of pills and alcohol. He died of his injuries.

According to data obtained from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board and overnight.tv, 7.5 million people watched the events.

Happy Valley came to an explosive end on Sunday night (Picture: BBC/Lookout Point/Matt Squire)

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What’s more, those 7.5 million people made Happy Valley not only the most watched BBC show of 2023, but the most watched show on all of British TV.

In addition, nearly 42% of households watching TV on Sunday nights watched Happy Valley.

These numbers are only expected to grow as more people catch up on iPlayer, with up to 11 million people watching every episode of the latest series so far.

James Norton has hailed Sarah Lancashire as a ‘genius’ and a ‘hero’ (Picture: BBC/PA)

The current record holder for the BBC is previous police drama Line of Duty, which drew nearly 13 million viewers before its series finale in 2021.

However, the reaction to the Happy Valley finale was much more positive than the reaction to the divisive and controversial Line of Duty finale.

Fans of the show called the latest performance a “masterpiece” and demanded that the quality of the show be reflected in the upcoming British TV Awards season.

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In an interview published yesterday with GQ magazine, 37-year-old Norton, who has played Tommy Lee Royce since 2014, praised the writers of the series.

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He said, “Sally Wainwright at her best. Sarah Lancashire, standing in front of me doing her very best.’

Norton also described them as “absolute heroes” and “queens of our industry,” before saying it was an “absolute privilege” to work with them.

Watch Happy Valley on iPlayer.

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