“Last Tango in Halifax” stars talk about its lesbian component


British television is giving the U.S. a run for its money as shows following the wave of popularity from Downton Abbey continue to flock to our TV airwaves.

While the engaging murder mystery Broadchurch continues on BBC America, PBS brings a romantic drama this weekend with Last Tango In Halifax. The series aired to big ratings last winter in the UK and ended up winning the Best Series Award in the 2013 British Academy Television Awards. A second series of Last Tango In Halifax has already been ordered.


In the six-episode series, two retired 70-somethings named Alan and Celia – played by Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid – meet up again via Facebook after being estranged for 60 years and start a romance. The love story is a charming one for viewers but there’s also a gay character close to the former childhood sweethearts.

Obstacles to the budding relationship come in the form of the offspring of Alan and Celia including Celia’s grown daughter Caroline (Sarah Lancashire). Caroline may initially not be on board with her mother’s romance but she has her own entanglements as she deals with a philandering husband and her feelings for a female colleague (Nina Sosanya) she’s having an affair with.

At the recent Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, AfterEllen asked Reid (along with Jacobi) to talk about the storyline in terms of her older generation character coming to terms with her daughter’s same sex relationship.


AfterEllen: There’s a big story in this series about Celia’s daughter coming out of the closet. Could you talk about how that impacts their relationship and also Celia’s understanding of what her daughter is going through?

Anne Reid: Well, I love it. I love it because I think a lot of people of my generation are homophobic. I don’t know what it’s like in America, but in middle England, yes, they are, and I know a lot of people. And so I like having this character who might show them [and] might change them…[Celia] has to behave and seems to have become tolerant. Otherwise, she will lose Alan.

The women I know who are homophobic, I don’t think, will ever really change. It’s a generation thing. You know, when I was a young girl, my father’s great horror was that I would marry a Catholic. Well, I mean, now it’s a bit like saying, ‘Is he a vegetarian?’ I mean, nobody really is interested in that, are they? And I don’t know whether they are in America. Over here, it wouldn’t mean much…but I’m sure that that’s how people will view gay people when my grandsons are grown up. I hope so, but I think it’s a good  lesson. That’s a bit heavy, but it’s a lesson for people, isn’t it?

Alan is the wise one in this. He’s a much more intelligent man than Celia is. That’s how I view it.

Derek Jacobi:  Yeah, he has a streak of kindness in him.

AR: Yes, and wisdom.

DJ: A streak of tolerance in him…that perhaps Celia doesn’t.

AR: Yes, and I’m a bit bossy and rude. I can’t think how I got cast, really.


The series, written by Sally Wainwright, shows that love comes in all shapes, sizes and even late in life and viewers will see that Caroline’s journey of self-discovery is just as compelling as the romance between Alan and Celia.

Last Tango In Halifax premieres this Sunday, September 8 on PBS. Check local listings in your area.