Be careful with sharing Netflix with your children who live across the country.

While streaming an old show that was a big hit back in 2013, “Last Tango in Halifax,” both of my daughters called and asked, “Where are you, and what kind of show are you watching?” It appears they thought we watching a porno channel featuring Bernardo Bertolucci’s hairy old “Last Tango in Paris.” Don’t you hate when that happens?

I touched on “Tango in Halifax” back in 2013 when it was on BBC, and I was into “Ray Donovan” and “The Blacklist.”

Now, I’m the same age as the hero of this piece, who is settled in the dreary winter countryside of Halifax/Yorkshire, England. As we are approaching the dreary winter countryside of Maine, streaming ancient hits, I thought I’d give it another try.

A little research reminds me that the impossibly brilliant British actor Derek Jacobi (“The Day Of The Jackal” (1973), “Gladiator” (2000), “The King’s Speech” (2010)) is here, and that’s good enough reason for me to spend a few hours watching him trundle through some tea and crumpets.

I don’t know who Sally Wainwright is, but this appears to be based on her mother’s second marriage, and tells the story of Alan (Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid) who were in love once 60 years ago, and because of a misplaced note, drifted apart and married the wrong people. Don’t you hate that?

I guess it wasn’t that bad for Alan, as the marriage had a healthy run, and they had a daughter Gillian (Nicola Walker) who married a sheep farmer and had a nice, well-mannered son Raff (Josh Bolt).

Alan is now widowed and apparently well off in the last years of his retirement.

I’m only in the second chapter of season one and can’t say for sure, but Alan seems to have had a good job once, because he provides a bit of financial nourishment for his daughter and grandson.

A 40ish Gillian, who seems to enjoy mucking about in sheep land, is now a widow who was stuck in a bad marriage. Lucky for her, her hubby died in some kind of accident on the farm, and there are a few around who think she murdered him.

I’m hoping you’ll join me in moving on to the rest of this story to find out if that’s true.

Apparently the sheep farm doesn’t bring a lot of money, so Gillian backs it up with a job as a checkout clerk in a supermarket.

So here’s the kicker for you. That girl, Celia, Alan lost because of the note? She’s back and she’s a widow. Don’t you love when that happens?

Celia must have married well because she drives a nice car, dresses well and clearly was left a bit of cash. Wait until you see Celia’s daughter Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) just out of a marriage to yet another lout (Tony Gardner). Caroline seems to be the head master of a preppy upscale school, and there’s this woman teacher (Nina Sosanya) who … No, I’m not giving anything else away. That’s the juicy part.

Here’s where it gets to be fun. The old lovers find one another again on the British form of Facebook, and they jot notes to one another.

After a bit of mumbling back and forth, they agree to have a spot of tea and see who they are now and compare liver spots and knee pains. At least that’s the way they’re going at it.

There are a few seeds in this jam, as you’ll find out. Gillian is having a dance in the hay, of an afternoon with a lout. I don’t like him, and neither will you. I’m hoping he has a similar accident, one that Gillian won’t get blamed for.

You’re wondering about Celia and Alan?

They meet and chat, she’s sweet and lovely, he’s charming and soft and dresses well, and they sit together in a English cafe bathed in afternoon light and the truth of what happened 60 years ago spills out. Don’t you love when that happens?

The secret is so heartbreakingly stunning that my mouth fell as wide open as Alan’s and so will yours.

And now I’m on season 2 and even more engaged with each of the characters. Bad and good will happen but the writing direction and performances keep growing deeper and more complex. What a surprise you are all in for.

 

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.


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