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Nicola Walker talks close bond with Sarah Lancashire in heartwarming interview

Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire
Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire (BBC)

Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire are both powerhouses when it comes to phenomenal British acting talent. The Split actress starred alongside Happy Valley's leading lady in other beloved BBC drama, Last Tango in Halifax, and it's clear the pair have a very close bond.

Nicola, who is also known and adored for her roles in shows such Unforgotten and Annika and more, shared her admiration for Sarah in a heartwarming new interview shared during theNational Television Awards.

The Spooks star appeared on screen in a pre-recorded VT celebrating Sarah's glittering career as she was presented the Special Recognition Award during the ceremony which took place on Tuesday evening. Nicola had plenty to say when it came to singing Sarah's praises. "She has broken my heart and made me laugh in equal measure on camera, on stage, in song, she can do it all," she began.

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In another clip, Nicola added: "As an audience, we knew her and that's one of Sarah's gifts that she creates a character that you feel so connected to, and that's because she understands human nature."

MORE: Sarah Lancashire's new drama with Peaky Blinders creator sounds seriously good

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Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker starred together in hit BBC drama, Last Tango in Halifax
Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker starred together in hit BBC drama, Last Tango in Halifax (BBC/BritBox)

She continued: "You can be laughing one moment with her as a viewer, and then she rips your heart out of your chest. She doesn't care about what you think of Sarah Lancashire. The ego is not there. For her, it is all about telling the story."

Nicola also had high praise for Happy Valley: "I think with Happy Valley, between them, Sally and Sarah drew a line and said, 'This is how good British television can be'. What I thought was beautiful was that they let us keep her [Catherine Cawood] and in my imagination, she's still out there somewhere."

Nicola Walker as DI Annika Strandhed as Annika
Nicola Walker as DI Annika Strandhed as Annika (UKTV/Alibi)

After being asked if she'd work with Sarah again, Nicola said enthusiastically: "I would like to work only with Sarah Lancashire, every day, all the time, I don't know if anyone can arrange that! We are very lucky to have her."

Meanwhile, other recognisable faces from the acting world appeared on screen to marvel at Sarah's achievements. Fellow Happy Valley star James Norton said: "She somehow manages to bring truth and authenticity to every role she plays."

Sarah Lancashire with the award for Returning Drama for "Happy Valley" in the National Television Awards 2023 Winners Room at The O2 Arena
Sarah Lancashire with the award for Returning Drama for "Happy Valley" in the National Television Awards 2023 Winners Room at The O2 Arena (Jeff Spicer)

James, who was nominated for his role as criminal Tommy Lee Royce in the BBC gritty drama, added; "What's unique about her is her dexterity. It shows incredible skill to shift on a dime, and Sarah does that beautifully."

Sarah was clearly thrilled with her three wins during the NTAs. First, she went up on stage alongside her fellow Happy Valley cast and creators after the show won Best Drama. Soon after she picked up the award for Drama Performance for her role as Catherine Cawood, and later picked up her special recognition award.

Sarah told the audience: "Thank you so much for this. I have adored every scene, and every moment of Happy Valley. And I know I will never forget it, nor the brilliant people that I've worked with, the way the BBC have supported us."

Sarah plays Catherine Cawood in the hit BBC show, Happy Valley
Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley (Ben Blackall)

"I have to say some things about Sally Wainwright because she is Happy Valley, she is what makes it, her writing is so extraordinary, her characters are extraordinary and anyone who is in receipt of those words is the luckiest actor in the world, in truth."

Sarah continued and made sure to give a shoutout to her co-stars on the programme. "To James Norton, to Siobhan Finneran who has been my partner in crime for three years and she is an extraordinary actress." She finished by saying: "My family walk every step of the way with me, and I am so incredibly lucky to have them in my life."