Last night ABC1 showed the first episode of Last Tango in Halifax, one of those dramas the Brits do so well. I watched it because of Derek Jacobi – such a brilliant actor – as anything else, and he was great as were the rest of the cast.
Apparently the storyline was based on a real event.
Writer Sally Wainwright based the story on the experience of her mother Dorothy who was put in touch with her childhood sweetheart Alec via Friends Reunited after being widowed at the ago of 75. Alec had also recently been widowed. The couple fell in love all over again and got married.
See this article in The Guardian.
After retirement, relationships often change: we see quite a high number of divorces among older people. I get the impression there’s also a growing number of marriages, too, so I liked the premise of this series, about two people in their 70s, Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi), who arrange via Facebook to meet. They almost got together as teenagers, but haven’t seen each other for 60 years; after one date, they decide to marry.
The fact they get engaged so quickly did strike me as pretty preposterous, but I loved the way the programme showed them using Facebook. Internet use among older people is still low – only about a quarter of people who are 75 and over have the internet at home – but a growing number of older people are using social media, so it’s great to see a programme treating it as quite normal. We got a lovely sense of the tension that surrounds arranging their date online, just as you would with a young couple.
That’s the best thing about the programme, really: Celia and Alan are depicted as normal, healthy and sane. All the silly, entertaining drama lies in the lives of the people around them – Celia’s daughter is having a lesbian affair, while Alan’s daughter is accused of killing her husband. Ageism is one of the last non-taboo prejudices people see on TV: we did some polling last year that showed people over 65 felt TV depictions of their age group were patronising. Older characters are often vulnerable and frail; here, we have two real, rounded individuals. Even Alan’s heart problems aren’t holding him back…
A lovely balance of the serious – some of it quite dark – and humour.