Sir Derek Jacobi: The reaction to Last Tango has been ‘extraordinary’

Derek Jacobi reunites with Anne Reid as veteran lovers Alan and Celia for the second series of BBC1’s Bafta-winning drama Last Tango in Halifax, which premieres on Tuesday, November 19 at 9pm.

TV & Satellite Week caught up with Derek to find out more…

Where do we pick up the show?

”It starts a couple of hours after the last one finished and Alan is still in hospital recovering from his heart attack and he decides that life is for living and he doesn’t know how much of it he has got left. After the first heart attack he felt the same, but he didn’t do anything apart from meting up with Celia again, but now this time he is really going to pack as much into whatever time he has got left as possible, that is his rasison d’etre.”

So will Celia and Alan get married?

”They might do! At one point I serenade her and I go mad on the dance floor, too. Timothy West was in the last few episodes as my brother and when I did the song he came up to me and said, ‘I have just seen Cameron Mackintosh’s car in the car park!'”

What reaction have you had from the public to the series?

“Oh it has been extraordinary. I have had people, usually older, coming up to me and saying, ‘Thank you, we needed that. It is something for us, we have been feeling forgotten.'”

Do you get on well with Anne in real life?

”Yes, we just got on really from the first time we met. We knew of each other. but we didn’t know each other. But at our first meeting at a restaurant in London we just clicked. It is just lovely to work on the show, there is huge trust and camaraderie, it is like a family.”

You have worked with so many people, but do you still get starstruck?

“Oh yes. I am still very impressed when I meet someone. I met Jane Fonda last year and I became all silly and boyish.”

Does working keep you young?

”Yes, I think acting is rejuvenating profession. You need to keep the brain active and you need to keep a foot in the cradle as an actor because we live on portraying our emotions.” 

Would you think of retiring?

”Not as long as there is work. I am in my mid 70s now and I do think, ‘How much longer?’ I am very conscious that the interval was over a long time ago. I am in Act 5 now and someone is waiting to pull down the final curtain, but I try not to think about it.”

For the full interview, read TV & Satellite Week, which is out now.


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