Nicola Walker (‘Last Tango in Halifax’) interview

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Nicola Walker (Spooks) stars alongside Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in Last Tango In Halifax, a new romantic comedy series, coming soon to BBC One.

Alan Buttershaw (Jacobi) and Celia Dawson (Reid) are both widowed and in their 70s. When their grandsons put them on Facebook, they rediscover feelings for one another that are just as intense and beautiful now as they were 60 years ago when they were teenagers. The story of their relationship is a celebration of the uplifting power of love at any age. But this is also a story about family, and it’s just as dark as it is comic. Both Alan and Celia’s family come with baggage.

Alan’s daughter Gillian (Nicola Walker) and Celia’s daughter Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) are like chalk and cheese. Chaotic, independent Gillian runs the family farm along with her teenage son, Raff, after the death of her husband in an apparent farming accident. Arrogant, ultra-respectable Caroline is the headmistress of a successful school, dealing with the fallout of her academic husband John’s extra-marital affair. Neither daughter would ever dream of getting in the way of their parents’ happiness. But somehow life – and love – are never quite that straightforward.

> Order Last Tango in Halifax on DVD on Amazon.

Tell us about Gillian…

“Gillian lives on her farm with her son and her father. She always wanted a farm but she wasn’t born into it and when her husband died, she was left to run the place on her own. She works part time at the local supermarket but the farm is her real passion.”

What’s Gillian’s relationship like with her dad?

“The most important people in her life are her son and her dad. Gillian and her father are incredibly close, they understand each other and trust each other completely. She thinks she knows everything about him and it shakes her to discover that she doesn’t.”

How does she feel when he reunites with Celia?

“At first Gillian is really happy for her father. She doesn’t want him to be lonely and Celia makes him happy. But as it becomes clear that her father has loved this woman for a very long time, it leaves Gillian to rethink some of the family myths.”

On first impression Gillian doesn’t think much of Celia’s daughter, Caroline – how does their relationship develop?

“When Gillian first meets Caroline, she thinks she’s a stuck up idiot. But events force the two women together and they find unexpected common ground and a very real mutual respect.”

We get the impression Gillian has a few skeletons in her closet?

“As with all families there are secrets kept closely guarded. Gillian, with her father’s help, has tried to protect her son. Some say she’s lied. She would say she has protected him. In her private life, Gillian has always behaved with a fabulous lack of forethought or caution. She does what she wants to do and doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks, but now she’s involved herself with a much younger man who threatens to damage her relationship with her son.”

Does Gillian remind you of yourself in anyway?

“I love Gillian’s bravery and honesty and her ability to put her hands up when she’s made a mistake, and she takes the consequences without an ounce of self pity. But she can open her mouth before she’s put her brain in gear – I can relate to that. And I completely understand her love for her father.”

Tell us why we should watch Last Tango in Halifax

“Sally Wainwright takes you on a fantastic journey with these people. Every time you think you know where the story is going, it darts off in an unexpected direction. She peels back the layers of these people lives and what is revealed is funny and painful, messy and very true.”

> Order Last Tango in Halifax on DVD on Amazon.

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