Screenwriter Sally Wainwright has defended her most controversial Last Tango in Halifax storyline, when Caroline’s pregnant wife Kate was killed in a car crash in what seemed like another example of TV’s “dead lesbian cliché”.
Queer characters on television are often killed-off in shows like Call the Midwife, ER and American Horror Story. However, Wainwright has stated that she “honestly did not know” about the TV trope – but joked that she’s since made up for the storyline with her BBC period drama Gentleman Jack.
Speaking at the premiere of the show’s fifth season, Wainwright said that the shock death of Kate (played by Nina Sosanya) actually helped reconcile Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) with her mother, Celia (Anne Reid), who declined an invitation to her daughter’s same-sex wedding.
“It was a big storyline,” Wainwright said. “Celia hadn’t gone to the wedding and then this huge thing [Kate’s death] happened, and then Celia was extraordinarily supportive to Caroline after it happened, and I felt it did actually alter the relationship between them and it did make the relationship stronger. It was a bit of a wake up call for Celia that she did see how much Caroline was suffering.
“When I did that storyline, I genuinely didn’t think that gay female characters persistently got killed off, I really didn’t know. I honestly did not know… For us it was just a very poignant storyline. And anyway, I’ve given you Anne Lister [the lesbian heroine of Gentleman Jack] now, so…”
last Tango in Halifax returns soon to BBC One