It has come to my attention that although I’ve mentioned this series in dispatches I haven’t yet given it a full review, possibly because I hadn’t watched it all in one go before – by which I don’t literally mean all in one sitting but spread over a period of weeks. (What do we want? Compelling and well-written drama! When do we want it? Spread out over a number of weeks!)
So. Both Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax are written by Sally Wainwright and star (among others) Sarah Lancashire. Both feature a complex mash-up of current and ex- relationships, with in the case of HV a backdrop of crime as the main character is a police Sergeant. In LTH relationships are to the fore as two very different families smash together after two of their grandparents decide to get married. Both series feature the delights of local language and dialect in an entirely authentic, non-patronising way: imagine Alan Bennett writing Last of the Summer Wine and you’ll have a flavour.
Last Tango stars Derek Jacobi, pitch-perfect (as you’d expect) as Alan, who meets the love of his life again after sixty years of them both being married to other people. Both are now widowed and Celia (Anne Reid) is more than ready to accept his proposal after decades of unhappiness with the serially unfaithful Kenneth. So far so good, but the two families unwittingly heading for kinship could not be more different: the daughter of one is a struggling sheep farmer whilst her soon-to-be half-sister is the Headmistress of an expensive private school. There are more plots than you’d believe possible, with infuriating ex-partners (and their partners), children and friends of children, lesbian relationships, babies, deaths and a ghost that won’t quit; all of which is mashed up, twirled around and spun into a series of interconnecting stories that I simply could not stop watching even though I’d seen it all before.
Having seen all four series it was time to turn once again to Happy Valley. Oh, the joy of sets! (Box-sets, that is.) I’ll post more about this series when I’ve finished it.
Meanwhile it is, as many of you will have spotted, Valentine’s Day today so let’s spare a thought for anyone who’s alone, whether by choice or accident, whether recently separated, divorced or bereaved. It doesn’t mean we have to get all gloomy about it, just remember that not everyone is with someone.