“Last Tango in Halifax” is bringing its lesbian subplot to the U.S.


Haven’t seen the first series of Last Tango in Halifax? Never even heard of Last Tango in Halifax? Well, your chance to find out more is on its way. PBS just announced it will start airing the first series here in the States on Sunday, September 8.

For those of us who are already caught up, star Anne Reid also revealed on a British morning program this week that Series 2 will begin filming on June 10. While that doesn’t really give us any clearer idea of when we’ll actually see it on our screens, it’s exciting to know that things are underway, and that it will also hopefully reach a whole new audience via PBS.

For those of you just tuning in, the main storyline revolves around an older couple, Celia and Alan, played by Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi, who have recently reunited and fallen swiftly in love. Large chunks of plot are also taken up by each of their respective daughters, Alan’s Gillian, played by Nicola Walker, and Celia’s Caroline, played by Sarah Lancashire. It’s Caroline who’s also dealing with coming out as she separates from her husband and romances a fellow co-worker, played by Nina Sosanya.

As the series progresses, Caroline’s story becomes just as monumental as Celia and Alan’s, until everything all crashes together in a dramatic, absolutely stunningly acted and fabulously written crescendo. The six episodes of the first series are some of the best six hours of television I have watched in a long, long time, and Caroline is now ranked up there as one of my favorite lesbian characters ever. Emphasis on ever. Like, Alice Pieszecki and Naomi Campbell territory, which I don’t say lightly. While they are all completely different characters, I only now realize as I write this that they do have something in common: they are all fierce blondes that demand your respect (and maybe devotion).

It’s not just Caroline I love, though; I am really smitten with the entire cast and feel of the show. You can read my recaps of the first series here.

It’s also been an exciting week for Last Tango in terms of the BAFTA Awards, a host of prestigious honors given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. First, the show’s scribe Sally Wainwright won for best writer of a drama ft the BAFTA Television Craft Awards. And seriously, let’s hear it for lady writers winning things.

The main event then came at the Television Awards on Sunday night, where Last Tango was up for four awards. While Sarah Lancashire, Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid didn’t take the gold for their acting nominations, it almost doesn’t matter because the entire wonderful ensemble cast won for Best Drama Series. It had been up against my other current favorite, Scott and Bailey (also penned by Sally Wainwright and also now airing on PBS), along with the Jack the Ripper-inspired drama Ripper Street and the law-driven Silk. There’s something extremely satisfying about a show about senior citizens falling in love and middle aged lesbians winning over the testosterone and blood-fueled Ripper Street.

In fact, one of the first reviews I ever read of this show referred to it as a “sweet” story, but not one that would “win awards” or anything. And to make such a dismissive remark actually is damaging, because it made me almost not watch it. Too little time, too much TV to watch, you know? But luckily I did. And immediately wondered what that guy was talking about. I’ve had a rough week, but something about this win has felt like an incredible bright spot of goodness. Take that, critics. Love stories can still win.

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