Considering how revered actors of an older generation are, it seems a strange anomaly that so few primetime dramas and comedies revolve around them. With two silver-haired sitcoms in the shape of Last of the Summer Wine and As Time Goes By both long gone, and the soaps having an almost relentless focus on the younger generation, the elderly feel increasingly written off. Their absence is misguided, as the stories and emotions run so much deeper when there are 7o years worth of them to tell as opposed to 7.

Last Tango In Halifax is a prime example of this. This tale of two childhood sweethearts reunited has achieved the rare of double of being popular and a critical darling. The premise sounds fairly sickly – separated for 60 years, Alan and Celia face culture clashes between their families as well as dramas within them, whilst they live life to the full with sports cars and expensive lunches. But it isn’t, because the dramas have been decades in the making. History weighs to heavy for it to be ignored.

The centre of the action at the moment is Alan’s daughter Gillian, a desperately unhappy soul who has faced about 30 years of recriminations for one mistake when she was 15. The fact we never discovered this secret until the beginning of the second series is testament to the writing, treating its viewers with intelligence and patience as the web of everyone’s lives slowly unfurls. Gillian’s crumbling relationship with her father, and everyone else around her, plays out against Celia’s daughter Caroline’s own problems. She herself is facing change, divorcing an alcoholic, philandering husband (who is currently obsessed with Gillian) whilst embarking on a lesbian relationship. If Gillian’s life feels all darkness, then Caroline’s has some light at the end of the tunnel, although there are hints this light is just that of an oncoming train.

Alan and Celia are still at the centre of the story, their new love symbolising that is never all over. Yet even here there are shadows. Alan’s health is in a precarious state, so his desire to live out his life how he wishes is less cheeky pensioner and more the final desires of a dying man. Celia, meanwhile, is not sweetness and light. She is a snob, tactless, and has flare-ups of bigotry. But that is what makes them compelling. Pensioners are not always angels. They have faults and failures like every generation. Celia and Alan feel real.

This is a story of light and shade. The characters are drawn subtly and who they are, and why they are, drips through. This may be a love story that appears to have a happy ending, but in reality it is one where shadows dominate, and everyone is just fighting for the last spot of light.

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