TV Review: Last Tango In Halifax Series 3

“You can’t put a price on avoiding deep vein thrombosis”

I sat down to watch the new episodes of Last Tango in Halifax on the iPlayer but only as it started, did I realise that I had somehow neglected to watch Series 3 when it aired a couple of years ago. So having tracked it down, I indulged in a good old binge of quality Sally Wainwright drama. I loved Series 1 and Series 2 but in the final analysis, found this third season to be a little disappointing by comparison.

Since we’re more than two years down the line now, I think I can safely discuss the main reason for this – the killing-off of Nina Sosanya’s Kate in an unexpected incident of Dead Lesbian Syndrome. It was a high value example of the trope as well, considering it happened on the day after her wedding to Sarah Lancashire’s Caroline and whilst she was heavily pregnant with the child they intended to raise together.

Its disappointing decision to rupture a happy lesbian couple aside, it didn’t work for me on a larger level within the show as well, as it allowed a kind of reset of all that had passed in the first half of the series. Anne Reid’s Celia struggling with her daughter’s sexuality and decision to marry, Derek Jacobi’s Alan need to trad carefully around his wife’s homophobia, and the way in which this exploded on the day of the ceremony itself felt like a rich vein of drama to explore and with Caroline’s younger son also skipping out, the ramifications of such actions would have been good enough for me.

But with Kate’s death came all the instant forgiveness that only exists in the world of film and TV and the series shifted gear into Caroline’s struggles as a single mother, albeit with a huge extended family, which I just didn’t care for as much. More fun was the (comparatively) light-heartedness of Nicola Walker’s Gillian’s men problems – batting off marriage proposals, unable to resist shagging the young fit men around her and unsure if she’d ever be able to shake of the demons of the past.

Jacobi and Reid share a wonderful chemistry that is always fun to watch, even when they’re bickering, but the scenes where Caroline and Gillian come together are without fail some of the best on TV. Lancashire and Walker deliver such rich, complex characterisation of Wainwright’s nuanced writing that you’d happily, for example, watch an entire episode of them just talking to each other – determined that they’re so different to each other and yet subtly, sympathetically, so very similar.

And if I just don’t mention the sub-plot of Rupert Graves’ random long-lost borderline-psycho son from the past who just happens to be super-rich, then maybe it might just get forgotten… Now finally I can get on with Series 4!

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