"You're not going down South?"
It's hard not to be a little disappointed with the fact that Series 4 of Last Tango in Halifax consists of only two episodes. But when the drama is of this good a quality, you can't begrudge Sally Wainwright taking her foot off the pedal here just a little (her Brontë Sister drama To Walk Invisible is also on over the festive period). And even with just 2 hours of television to play with, she still packs a lot in.
Still mourning the loss of Kate and adjusting to life as a single mother to Flora, Sarah Lancashire's Caroline uproots her family to the rural outskirts of Huddersfield as she's taken a new headship at a state school there. And newlywed Gillian is struggling with guilt of what she did to her new husband's brother, to whom she was also married. Meanwhile, Alan and Celia are sucked into the world of am-dram.
It is abundantly clear that Wainwright knows where the strengths of Last Tango in Halifax lie - the genial charms of Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi's septuagenarian lovers are best when their troubles are mere trifles, squabbling with each other with a twinkle still in the eye brings out the best in both of them. Which leaves the heavier lifting for Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire who, brilliantly, get several scenes on their own.
The script may have relied on a little too many "I've not told you this but..." scenarios to get through all of the necessary plot points but seeing these two together onscreen is a continuing genuine pleasure, the rich complexity of their relationship caught somewhere between step-sisterly rivalry and genuine friendship remains just fantastic to watch, both women filling their performances with all manner of wonderful details. A perfect festive treat.