Scott and Bailey series 3 – episode 1

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First gran-lit, now gran-TV – Last Tango in Halifax on BBC1

Well it seems a bit of a trend has started. From Hilary Boyd’s novel clinging to the top of the Amazon Kindle charts, to the Guardian Weekend magazine’s grandparent special last Saturday, it would appear there’s a ‘more mature person’ renaissance going on at the moment. Even The Evening Standard mag featured some rather feisty old birds last week (I can use that terminology ‘cos I want to be one).

And now we have the new Sally Wainwright drama for BBC1, Last Tango in Halifax

NOT MUCH OF A FANFAREAnne Reid and Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax

The first episode caught me completely by surprise. I just happened to be perusing the listings when I came across the new series featuring one of my favourite actors, Anne Reid (Jean from Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies, amongst many other fine productions). Though I don’t find myself glued to the box every night, I would have expected to see at least one trailer for the new show. Did the Beeb even make any?

[EDIT: Found a Front Row item about series on iPlayer SPOILER ALERT: at the 3:45 mark something is given away about the plot – I hit mute so I’m not sure how much was revealed! You can listen safely from 4:34 onwards.]

STELLAR SUPPORTING CAST

To my delight, when I did tune in on Tuesday at 9pm, I discovered the series also starred Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker. And, as expected, they are both fabulous.

Strangely, the actor cast to play opposite Anne Reid is classical theatre man Derek Jacobi. Great credentials, but is he right for the role? He seemed to be in a completely different drama, playing it for sitcom-style cheap laughs when everyone else was taking it seriously. I’d always rather see an interesting choice for a part rather than casting directors reaching for the obvious one (for this it might have been James Bolam, or Alun Armstrong – both recently of retired cop drama New Tricks) but I’m not sure the experiment entirely paid off on this occasion. Time will tell. By the end of the episode, though, his performance (and even his slightly dubious Yorkshire accent) had grown on me.

CRIME DRAMA?

Although this blog is all about crime fiction and drama, Last Tango in Halifax is described as a comedy romance, so I really shouldn’t be mentioning it at all. However, without giving anything away, there is a subplot that might just involve a mystery.

If comedy romance is the sort of thing that would normally have you running a mile, park your preconceptions for 60 minutes every Tuesday for the next five weeks and enjoy. First episode is up on iPlayer right up until Boxing Day.

A NEW TREND?

So, what’s next? Maybe Colin Baker or Eric Bristow will win I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Or perhaps Shirley Bassey will make it to number one at Christmas.

Bring it on.

Book 2 of the Degrees of Separation series featuring 65-year-old grandmother Jean Henderson is out next now on Amazon. (UK store and US store)