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Happy Valley: The men in white coats have come for Auntie Beeb

Happy Valley’s shady pharmacist doles out pills illegally for cash. But the BBC’s costume department has committed an even bigger crime by dressing him in a white coat, says C+D’s editor Beth Kennedy

I love a crime drama, me. So I’ve been eagerly hunkering down each week with the remnants of my Christmas chocolate to watch the latest series of the (excellent) BBC cop show Happy Valley.

But for a drama that seems to get so much right about police work, something wasn't quite right in its depiction of double-dealing pharmacist Faisal Bhatti.

Read more: Pharmacists on screen

In the first episode of series three, Mr Bhatti slopes into his pharmacy after illegally giving one of his neighbours her next stash of diazepam. There he is, looking shifty in the dispensary dressed in sensible workwear, before slipping on a white coat like he’s cosplaying as a pharmacist.

I found it really jarring; although I’m reliably informed that there are some pharmacists in the UK who do in fact don white coats in their dispensary, I’ve never seen any with my own eyes.

This is despite what stock picture libraries would have you believe, much to the chagrin of many pharmacists I’ve spoken to over the years. The costume department should have made him stick with the shirt and jumper combo he arrived at work in.

So despite Mr Bhatti’s dodgy dealings – and they have been very dodgy indeed thus far – this was the part of the episode that made me wince the most.

Read more: ‘I'm representing all of us’: Pharmacist speaks of his time on The Apprentice

No mean feat, seeing as the character has seemingly been illegally dealing benzodiazepines to all and sundry in West Yorkshire and looks set to become embroiled in even more dubious antics.

He’s a fitness-to-practise case waiting to happen. That’s if he doesn’t get gruesomely bumped off first, as is the show’s wont.

It’s all very compelling and I can’t wait to see how Mr Bhatti’s storyline unfolds. So I’ll be continuing to watch Happy Valley from between my fingers – although whether that’s because of the action or because I can't stand the sight of him in his white coat is anyone’s guess.


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