It would be easy to walk into this new comedy drama from Sally Wainwright, armed to the teeth with preconceptions.
We did – and it smashed every single one of them to smithereens.
Anne Reid (who just gets better and better with every passing year) and Derek Jacobi (who drops his usual plummy tones for a Yorkshire accent) play Celia and Alan, two seventysomething – or thereabouts – former schoolfriends who meet online after 50 years and, after exchanging several messages, decide to meet.
Both are nervous yet excited about the prospect; so much so, they’re almost oblivious to the domestic dramas unfolding around them as their families get on with the business of… well… being families.
Alan lives with his widowed daughter Gillian and her teenage son on a farm. Life is a struggle, and she has to work two jobs to keep a roof over their heads.
In contrast, Celia has a granny flat in the grounds of her headmistress daughter Caroline’s house, which looks like it’s the biggest place in Harrogate. But their plush surroundings mask numerous problems – not least of which is Caroline’s husband John, who has come back to the family abode, tail between his legs after running off with a woman who has turned out to have a drink problem.
Against this unlikely backdrop, the lovely, bittersweet story of Alan and Celia’s shared history is explored as, over the course of an eventful afternoon in Skipton, they discover how a simple act changed their lives forever.
The first episode of Last Tango in Halifax is that rare beast: a compelling drama, shot through with lighter touches, but laden with more than enough tantalising plotlines to have us hooked and keep us firmly on the line, while at the same time never making us feel as though we’re being spoon fed.
The story does veer dangerously close to schmaltz once or twice, but in the capable hands of Reid and Jacobi – alongside a none-too-shabby supporting cast that includes Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker and Nina Sosanya, this is never going to be anything other than a winner.
Bring on episode two.
THE WHAT, WHEN, WHO OF IT
WHAT’S IT CALLED?
Last Tango in Halifax
WHEN IS IT ON?
Tuesday, November 20, 9pm
WILL I KNOW ANYONE IN IT?
Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius / Doctor Who / Dead Again / Nanny McPhee)
Anne Reid (Upstairs Downstairs / Hot Fuzz / Wallace and Gromit in a Close Shave)
Sarah Lancashire (Corrie / Clocking Off / Rose and Maloney / Five Daughters / The Paradise)
Nicola Walker (Touching Evil / Spooks / Four Weddings and a Funeral)
Tony Gardner (The Thick of It / My Parents Are Aliens)
WHO SHOULD WATCH IT?
Grown ups who like satisfying, non-patronising, subtle drama
WHO SHOULDN’T WATCH IT?
Marlon Brando fans… there’s no butter here….
WANT TO KNOW MORE?