Let’s tango

ROMANTIC COMEDY: Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi, who star in Last Tango in Halifax

ROMANTIC COMEDY: Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi, who star in Last Tango in Halifax

First published in Tonight's TV The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

DESPITE the title, Last Tango In Halifax won’t involve any naughtiness in a West Yorkshire town in the style of Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider in a quite notorious, similarsounding 1970s movie.

Instead, this six-part romantic comedy starring Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi focuses on the rather touching tale of Celia Dawson and Alan Buttershaw, former lovers who haven’t seen each other for 60 years.

It’s loosely based on the true story of Bafta-winning writer Sally Wainwright’s mum. “My dad died in 2001, and my mum came to live with us in Oxfordshire, in our granny flat,” she explains.

“My sister helped her put her details on Friends Reunited, and she discovered just two people there from her year at school (in Elland, West Yorkshire).

“One of them was Alec Walker. He was also widowed, and living with his daughter in Northamptonshire. They started writing to one another, and then he asked if she’d like to meet up. They fell in love with one another, and got married within six months.”

In Celia and Alan’s case, they get chatting on Facebook and discover they were kept apart all those decades ago by a simple twist of fate. What’s more, their old, passionate feelings for each other are immediately reignited.

Celia and Alan realise their love for each other is returning after being stranded in Skipton. By the time their respective daughters, Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) and Gillian (Nicola Walker), have arrived to pick them up, the pensioners have decided to marry. But what will their relatives think?

Wainwright was thrilled when veteran stars Reid and Jacobi agreed to star.

“The brilliant thing about Anne and Derek is they embody the spirit of the show; it’s not about being old, it’s about being in love. And they are like my mum and Alec, they’re both so affectionate and happy, and with a real zest for life.

“Annie found out that Derek could jive, so they got together and lobbied for a scene that they could jive together in. It’s gorgeous, uplifting, funny. And they have a fabulous chemistry, you really believe they’re in love, and have been for 60 years.”


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