Last Tango in Halifax stars Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid share their favourite Christmas memories

The actors, also known as Alan and Celia, reveal what makes Christmas special for them

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Anne Reid: ‘Nobody lets me near the kitchen’

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My favourite time of year is two weeks before Christmas when everybody’s up for it – you’re having lunches with people, drinking Cosmopolitans and getting ready for something exciting!


Christmas Day itself hasn’t always been great. My parents went abroad when I was very young and I went to boarding school. We had a few Christmasses before that – I remember a big sack of presents and Mummy cooking goose.

My son’s birthday is in November – he’s 45 now – so his first Christmas was my favourite. I’ve got lots of pictures of me holding him up to the Christmas tree. As an adult, he came round to my little flat one year, with his girlfriend – in my defence I hadn’t been living there very long – and I put everything in the oven, then about an hour and a half later realised I hadn’t turned it on. So we had a stir-fry and since then nobody lets me near the kitchen; they stick a glass of champagne in my hand and I try to be entertaining. That’s what I’m best at…

Derek Jacobi: ‘My best Christmas was on Broadway’

I was born the year before the war began – we didn’t really have Christmas until after the war. My earliest Christmas memories are my family coming to our house in London. I remember the smell of the chicken cooking. We only had it on Christmas Day!

Then, as I became an actor, I’d find the work bled into the season. My favourite Christmas was 1988 when I was in a show on Broadway. New York theatres work on Christmas Day, so I had lunch and then did the show at about 5pm to a packed house – it was odd, but great.

These days, I think because all my family have virtually now gone, it’s no longer a special time for me. It’s become much more commercial, much more about, “Who do we [he and his civil partner Richard Clifford] have to buy presents for and send cards to this year?”

I usually go up to Scotland, to a friends’ house north of Dunoon. For Hogmanay we go to a ceilidh and they do the Gay Gordons and Strip the Willow, but I prefer to watch these days.

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Last Tango in Halifax airs on Monday 19 December and Tuesday 20 December on BBC1 at 9pm