Celia is a woman who is unfulfilled. She's a sparky person who has been held back by being married to a man she didn't love. A man she actually grew to hate... she's bitter about that.
How does she change when she’s reunited with Alan?
When she meets Alan she is reborn. She becomes the woman she should have been all her life. She blossoms because she knows Alan loves her as much as she loves him.
What’s her relationship like with Caroline?
Caroline takes after Celia in that she is a strong woman and intelligent, but also makes the mistake of marrying the wrong person. They have a strong mother and daughter bond, but sometimes their arguments become very vicious.
Ceila is a strong character – does she remind you of yourself in any way?
No. Celia is not like me. I would not have stayed married to her first husband if he was unfaithful. And also I had a career which I was, and am, passionate about. I'm not looking for a relationship at all. I love my life as it is. Alan would have found me a nightmare to live with. I like my own way too much!
What attracted you to this part?
It's simply a part to die for. I had one of the best times in my career doing it. Last Tango is about real people with truth as its backbone. It has humour and drama and original, interesting characters. I'm very proud to be in it.
Tell us about Alan. What sort of life has he had?
Alan’s had a happy life. He married and had a daughter, Gillian, who he now lives with on her farm along with his grandson, Rafi. Following the death of Gillian’s husband, Alan has helped out financially and emotionally on the farm. Alan’s led a fairly simple life and I think he settled early on and I think he feels he ‘missed out’ on some of the fun and excitement he might have had if he and Celia had got together first time round. But, all in all, Alan’s happy with his lot and loves his family dearly.
How does Alan change when he’s reunited with Celia?
Meeting up with Celia gives Alan a whole new lease of life. He’s loved her since he was 16 years old and it feels like they’re picking up where they left off. Celia allows him to be himself and take risks which is something he’s never really done before. He enjoys the change that she creates in his life but it does make him question what might have been.
What’s Alan’s relationship like with Gillian?
He adores his daughter and despite the fact she doesn’t always make the right decisions, he stands by her and is rarely judgemental. Living on the farm with Gillian has made them even closer and since Alan’s wife died, Gillian has looked after him. They balance each other out and whilst Alan helps Gillian financially, she keeps him part of family life.
Does Alan remind you of yourself in anyway?
No, not really.
Tell us why we should watch Last Tango In Halifax
The show is wonderfully written and it was fantastic for me to be playing a very different type of character to those I usually play. It’s also great to see a love story between two older characters that isn’t patronising or stereotyped in any way. I think audiences will find it both refreshing and uplifting.
Tell us about Caroline. What sort of life has she had?
She’s a headmistress and mother to two boys. She’s very academic, holding a chemistry degree from Oxford. We sort of meet her character in reverse as she’s dealing with the breakdown of her marriage to John who then returns to ask for a second chance. We can see that she once loved him; I suspect she was charmed by his love of words, he was a romantic who balanced her out. I can see why she was attracted to him. But the promise he had shown as a young novelist, sort of withered and she outgrew him. She realises that the discontentment she felt as a teenager has re-emerged and she isn’t being true to herself. She needs to rediscover an aspect of her character that was there when she was younger and we see her true character emerge. She just wants to be true to herself and embarks on a relationship with someone at school.
So why do you think she agrees to take John back?
Her bark is much worse than her bite and I think there’s an element of her that feels he simply made a mistake. And although she says it’s ok for him to come back the relationship can’t continue, not because he ruined it but because it was already ruined. She has a real love for him but she’s not being honest with herself. She’s spent so many years having to conform, denying to the outside world who she really is, I think taking him back is her trying to keep that up.
What’s her relationship like with her mum?
They live side by side and there’s undoubtedly a deep love and respect between them but Caroline, being such a high achiever, needs order and control. She can be a very prickly, arrogant woman – it’s her defence. As a public figure head she’s used to building scaffolding around herself, but take that away and she crumbles. Although her mum irritates her, the thought of losing her terrifies Caroline, so as her mum’s relationship with Alan develops and she starts to lead her own life, Caroline feels that she’s lost the equilibrium of her life and this leads to conflict. But humour sits at the heart of their conflict and they really do need each other.
How does she feel about her mum reuniting with Alan?
Anything left field or out of the ordinary just completely throws Caroline. When her mother first reunites with Alan she’s fine as it’s just a friendship, she’s actually pleased her mum has a companion. But her shock on hearing that they’re getting married is completely genuine, knowing her mother of old she thinks she swings with the wind and that this is just a moment of madness. But remarkably, it’s her mother’s relationship with Alan, a relationship that wouldn’t ordinarily be deemed by society to be conventional, that gives Caroline what she sees as ‘permission’ to finally admit to being who she really is.
Does Caroline remind you of yourself in anyway?
Yes, in the respect she’s a working woman trying to keep everything under control – at least to the outside world!
What made you want to be part of Last Tango In Halifax?
I read the first two scripts and within two pages I knew it was very special. Sally’s writing was immaculate, Anne was on board, Derek was on board, to be part of a piece that has beautiful writing, consummate actors and a story that is genuinely heart-warming but with real humour – it was a privilege to be part of.
Tell us about Gillian
Gillian lives on her farm with her son and her father. She always wanted a farm but she wasn’t born into it and when her husband died, she was left to run the place on her own. She works part time at the local supermarket but the farm is her real passion.
What’s Gillian’s relationship like with her dad?
The most important people in her life are her son and her dad. Gillian and her father are incredibly close, they understand each other and trust each other completely. She thinks she knows everything about him and it shakes her to discover that she doesn’t.
How does she feel when he reunites with Celia?
At first Gillian is really happy for her father. She doesn’t want him to be lonely and Celia makes him happy. But as it becomes clear that her father has loved this woman for a very long time, it leaves Gillian to rethink some of the family myths.
On first impression Gillian doesn’t think much of Celia’s daughter, Caroline - how does their relationship develop?
When Gillian first meets Caroline, she thinks she’s a stuck up idiot. But events force the two women together and they find unexpected common ground and a very real mutual respect.
We get the impression Gillian has a few skeletons in her closet?
As with all families there are secrets kept closely guarded. Gillian, with her father’s help, has tried to protect her son. Some say she’s lied. She would say she has protected him. In her private life, Gillian has always behaved with a fabulous lack of forethought or caution. She does what she wants to do and doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks, but now she’s involved herself with a much younger man who threatens to damage her relationship with her son.
Does Gillian remind you of yourself in anyway?
I love Gillian’s bravery and honesty and her ability to put her hands up when she’s made a mistake, and she takes the consequences without an ounce of self pity. But she can open her mouth before she’s put her brain in gear – I can relate to that. And I completely understand her love for her father.
Tell us why we should watch Last Tango In Halifax
Sally Wainwright takes you on a fantastic journey with these people. Every time you think you know where the story is going, it darts off in an unexpected direction. She peels back the layers of these people lives and what is revealed is funny and painful, messy and very true.