BBC One’s beloved comedy drama Last Tango in Halifax has returned to our screens, with all the main cast back for more.
Here’s a handy guide to the finer details of the family tree…
Anne Reid plays Celia
Who is Celia? Celia was a sharp-tongued, 70-something widow when she first reconnected with childhood sweetheart Alan, after spotting him on Facebook in series one and getting engaged soon afterwards (before introducing their respective daughters, Caroline and Gillian). The pair are very different (she’s a Daily Mail reader, while Alan prefers The Guardian) and have had their ups and downs, but at the start of series five they (appear) happily married and are doing-up their smart bungalow.
Speaking at the series premiere, Anne Reid said of her character: “I said to Sally [Wainwright, the show’s creator] please don’t ever make her [Celia] nice. I love it. If she suddenly turned terribly sweet – no, I wouldn’t like that… I’ve found that you get more laughs if you’re unpleasant.”
Where have I seen Anne Reid before? The actress is known for playing Valerie Barlow in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street, and more recently as Mrs. Thackeray in Upstairs Downstairs; grandmother Muriel in BBC One drama Years and Years; and Lady Denham in the Jane Austen adaptation Sanditon.
Derek Jacobi plays Alan
Who is Alan? Father to Gillian, Alan is a sweet-tempered man who is completely besotted when he first reconnects with Celia. However, he’s not a man without faults, and when his grown-up, illegitimate son Gary appears on the scene, he struggles to tell Celia about an affair that he had in the 1980s while with his first wife, Gillian’s mother. However, by the time we last saw Alan, he and Celia had reconciled (aided by the belated honeymoon in New Zealand that millionaire Gary paid for…).
It’s been seven years since they wed, and Alan and Celia are happy – but when Alan suggests that he might like to get a part-time job in a supermarket, snobbish Celia isn’t best pleased…
“He’s behind a till. You know she’s a terrible snob,” Anne Reid said of Celia’s attitude towards Alan’s new job. “She has delusions of grandeur, she really does.”
Of his character, Derek Jacobi said at the series premiere: “I think I [Alan] need a little bit of my independence and I can see flaws in her [Celia] that I didn’t see before. And I can make my opinion known in advance. It is an effort – I’m on thin ice with her – but I am determined to state my case and be my own man and I think he’s [Alan is] getting a little bit bored with us. You know, we need something to give us a bit of the other, you know, just getting a job, getting out, being around people helps.”
Where have I seen Derek Jacobi before? The legendary stage and screen actor’s credits have included roles in Vicious, Gosford Park, The King’s Speech, Gladiator, Murder on the Orient Express, and recently as Metatron in Good Omens and the Bishop in BBC One’s adaptation of Les Misérables.
Sarah Lancashire plays Caroline
Who is Caroline? Caroline is Celia’s daughter, a responsible head teacher and mother to two teenage boys. Although she initially hates her new step-sister Gillian (and vice-versa), they begin to bond and confide in one another.
Caroline was previously married to the no-good John – he was cheating on her before she started an affair with a woman named Kate. Eventually Caroline begins a relationship with Kate, who becomes pregnant via a sperm donor, and the pair marry. However, (in what proved a controversial storyline) tragedy strikes and Kate is killed in a hit-and-run, although her baby Flora survives. At the start of season five, Caroline is a widow and single parent.
Speaking about her character’s ability to cope with tragic events, Sarah Lancashire said: “She’s pretty much a constant [but] I think further down the line and we do see actually an element of her not coping particularly well, which is unusual for her… But also [this series] she’s dipping her toe again in the water in terms of of a possible relationship.”
Where have I seen Sarah Lancashire before? The actress is probably best known for playing Catherine Cawood in the series Happy Valley, but she’s also recently starred in MotherFatherSon (as a creepy politician), as Polly in the TV series The Accident, and she’s just finished filming the upcoming adaptation of Everyone’s Talking About Jamie, in which she’ll play Jamie’s mum Margaret New.
Nicola Walker plays Gillian
Who is Gillian? Gillian is Alan’s daughter, a farmer and widow whose husband Eddie was abusive to her (and whose death in the family barn, we later learn, was not an accident after all; Gillian admits to Caroline that she killed him in order to prevent further sexual and physical abuse).
Gillian becomes engaged to policeman Robbie, her former brother-in-law and childhood sweetheart, but she cheats on him twice (once with Caroline’s ex John). Celia convinces her not to leave Robbie at the altar, and the pair do marry – but after Gillian confesses to him that she killed his brother, Eddie, she leaves her.
In series five, Celia has discovered that the farmhouse has woodworm, and is struggling to pay to fix it. Speaking at the series premiere, Nicola Walker said: “I [Gillian] have borrowed an extremely large amount of money to expand my flock, as is the way of life… and she needs her dad [Alan]. And you know I’ve [Gillian has] still got my son living with me with his partner, his child and I’m still relying on my dad.”
Where have I seen Nicola Walker before? Outside of Last Tango in Halifax, Walker is probably best known for her roles as DCI Cassie Stuart in the ITV series Unforgotten, and as Hannah Stern in BBC One’s The Split. She’s also starred in Spooks, Collateral, and played one half of the terrible folk duo in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Josh Bolt plays Raff
Who is Raff? Gillian and Eddie’s son, he and his girlfriend Ellie fell pregnant when they were both still at school – but with the help of his mum and Robbie, he continued with his A-Levels and then attended Leeds University. He’s dad to young daughter Calamity, and has since married Ellie after she proposed to him at his mum’s wedding.
Where have I seen Josh Bolt before? Bolt played Rob Dawson in Benidorm and has previously appeared in Grantchester, Catch-22, and Scott & Bailey.
Katherine Rose Morley plays Ellie
Who is Ellie? Raff’s childhood sweetheart and now wife, she became pregnant with their baby Calamity while they were both still at school. They’re now happily married, and Ellie is pregnant again and working at the same supermarket where Alan has applied to work.
Where have I seen Katherine Rose Morley before? The actress played Chloe Anderson in The Clink and Emma Moxam in Thirteen. She’s also starred in long-running shows like Vera and Call the Midwife.
Timothy West plays Ted
Who is Ted? Alan’s cheeky and flirtatious brother, who lives in New Zealand with his family. The family last saw him when he attended Alan and Celia’s wedding.
Where have I seen Timothy West before? Recently West played Private Godfrey in Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes, nd has starred in Not Going Out, EastEnders and Coronation Street. He also plays Jeremy Lister in the BBC period drama Gentleman Jack, and has appeared in films including Ever After, Joan of Arc, and 102 Dalmatians.
Liam McCheyne plays Harrison
Who is Harrison? A young boy whom Alan witnesses shop-lifting food.
Where have I seen Liam McCheyne before? You might recognise him from shows like The Bay, Mother’s Day, Moving On, and Coronation Street.
Tony Gardner plays John
Who is John? A novelist and Caroline’s terrible ex-husband, who cheated on her. He often suggests that they get back together, but to no avail. He also had a brief fling with Caroline’s step-sister Gillian, and he became obsessed with her for while.
Where have I seen Tony Gardner before? Gardner played Brian in the beloved children’s sitcom My Parents Are Aliens, and also played Professor Tony Shales in Fresh Meat. He’s also starred in shows like Unforgotten, Tripped, Innocent, and Stella.
Ronni Ancona plays Judith
Who is Judith? John’s insufferable new partner (with whom he had the affair while still married to Caroline), Judith is an alcoholic and very successful author of young adult fiction.
Where have I seen Ronni Ancona before? The actress has starred in The Trip, Doctors, Skins, Hope Springs, and the film Penelope. She first rose to fame appearing alongside Alistair McGowan on BBC One’s The Big Impression.
Last Tango in Halifax series five is currently airing on Sundays at 8/7c on PBS in the US