Last Tango in Halifax S1:E2 Spoilt For Choice Recap

LTIH Cover

And we're back for the second episode of Last Tango in Halifax! Let's see what our two completely different families are up to this time.

I feel I should start off with a disclaimer: I intend to do my best, but I will perhaps make mistakes as I go and I will endeavor to correct things as I go along. Odds are, it will not be perfect. For example, last episode I thought Gillian was wrestling with a pig, but it turned out to have been a sheep. Also, Caroline opened Kate's note about her indiscreet behaviour at home, not at school as I had written. Lastly, I failed to mention that Celia and Alan knew each other from school, not just as teenagers, as I put in the last. I understand there is a passionate fandom associated with this show and I will do my very best. Please do feel free to email me any discrepancies at or on Twitter @gingesbecray, as a couple of fans have done already. Right, are we ready?

Last week, Alan and Celia met in Skipton and enjoyed a high-speed car chase just before getting engaged. Caroline's estranged husband John moved back home, appearing to end Caroline's budding relationship with Kate, and Raff almost killed himself dirt biking with his Uncle Robbie, who does NOT get along with Gillian, Raff's mum. Gillian and Caroline didn't hit it off immediately, what with all the "snotty bitch" (Caroline) and "idiot" (Gillian) being thrown around, as well as a beautiful turn of phrase: "low life brain dead trailer trash" but surely that will get better. Is that sommat about right?

There's a silence after the engagement announcement, broken by Celia saying that they don't HAVE to say anything, obviously...Gillian asks when the wedding will be (later, no time to think of it yet!) and both she and Caroline ask about the cars (Alan's is with the police, Celia's is in the garage - last episode the high speed chase ended when Celia crashed into Alan's car, which had been stolen). When Celia says that she couldn't just leave Alan, he has a heart condition you can actually FEEL Caroline getting tenser, although you can't see it exactly.

It's obvious that Caroline is ITCHING to get away, there's an upcoming Independent Schools Inspectorate, never mind her having to park on the side of the street when Gillian stole her parking spot. Gillian says they'd love to stay for a cuppa, though! Sure! Making Caroline bite the inside of her cheeks and slowly strangle her car keys.

Gillian goes to the loo and Caroline makes a break for it, telling Celia they have to go right now, and tell Gillian goodbye, won't you, Alan? Alan says he'll ring Celia in the morning and Celia wants to know why no-one has congratulated them yet? Caroline says they'll discuss it in the car, which means "GET IN THE CAR YE DAFT WOMAN." Raffy finally does congratulate them, yay!

Alan and Celia say a very long goodbye, or maybe it just seemed long with Caroline pacing in the background, but I can't be the only one wondering if they will kiss, can I? They do not. Sad panda.

Alan is so adorable, he's so excited about his upcoming marriage, even if he has now't idea how it happened. Celia is frustrated with Caroline, who is angry but Gillian is just incredulous and not the least bit interested in hearing what really happened 60 years before; she already knows: he told her! It must be said, she's not a big fan of Caroline, either; that's the non-profane description.

Back at Castle Caroline the next morning, Caroline drives her sons off to school in her lovely SUV while Raffy leaves the farm on foot as Gillian moves hay about on a flatbed with a tractor. They're very different!

At school, Caroline is walking and talking with Kate about Kate being indiscreet with Michael Bloody Dobson (I hear he's a insidious prick); how, what when, where and why? Kate was hiding and crying in the book room after being summarily dumped by Caroline and in he walked and she forgot to switch pronouns and then he wouldn't drop it and she gave Caroline's name. Caroline presses, what EXACTLY did she say, and it's just that they kissed twice and ANYWAY, he's a mate and it'll be fine. Honestly. Kate asks if Caroline is cross and there's this super long pause including a bell ringing and then a clearly cross Caroline says "No" crisply and strides away.

Celia is taking the bull, or rather the Alan, by the horns. She rings him to say she thought she'd pop over? Celia makes it over to the main house where she finds John picking away at his novel (it is a novel, isn't it? Someone shagging Prothero's mother for 15 years?), she says if he isn't doing anything, can she get a lift to get her car? I bet that's what all writers LOVE to hear, "since you aren't doing anything" when you're clearly working out the semantics of making sure everyone understands that Prothero wasn't shagging his OWN mother, no.

He queries if Caroline has explained that he's moved back in now, yeah? And it's delicate, too, he's in the spare room, and maybe Celia could have a word with Caroline...for him? Since Caroline listens to her? I mean. Honestly. Celia scoffs and asks what he thinks about her news? And I don't believe Caroline has told him just yet.

Alan's runs outside to tell Gillian that Celia's popping 'round, he's very excited, but Gillian is still worrying over the conversation yesterday with Raff, where he asked about when her husband Eddie died. Er oooh, she's concerned that Robbie will bring up...other what really happened. What does THAT mean?? Alan says Robbie wouldn't be that daft, but I'm wondering about this so-contentious vibe that is between Gillian and Robbie: it's almost like a former lover thing.


Gillian warns him; to fresh eyes... the farm looks like a dump. He runs off to tidy. How does one tidy bales of hay anyway?

Caroline is going through paperwork at her office when John rings. How can she have not told him her mum's getting married? She's all "sorry, is this urgent" in a I'm Far Too Busy Right Now to Humour Your Tawddle voice and he says it's delightful! She scoffs, its not going to happen, Celia's at this and then that 10 minutes later and really. John thinks it's "life affirming. Properly, you know, proper" and that's a lovely way to look at it. He asks her to have dinner: no, but tells her Celia's gone off to see Alan, which alarms Caroline, she treats Celia a little bit like a child, doesn't she?

He has to go anyway, there's someone at the door, I think it's the alcoholic Judith that he ran away with! There's someone at Caroline's door as well, it's Michael Bloody Dobson and he wants to speak with her right about now, it seems Kate's been saying some things Caroline needs to be aware of.

Side note: there is a second when Caroline is girding her loins for the confrontation, the straightening of her shirt, the adjusting her glasses (still sitting on her nose), it's just lovely. As you were.

Oh. Oh this confrontation is EVERYTHING. He starts slowly, with all kinds of meaningful pauses, stressing that Kate might be saying these inflammatory things to other people, and if the governors, or parents, or Caroline's two boys were to find out...she calls him out IMMEDIATELY, asking what he wants? A bigger budget, a head position? Go ahead, spread a few rumours, have your fun, it's 2012 and the best of all:

"The ladies have landed. Quite a long time ago, in fact. Get over it."

She kicks him out, BAM! And then her bravado is gone

Caroline Office

It IS Judith at the Castle, and she wants to know when they're getting back together? He's very nervous with her there in Caroline's kitchen and says it's done, it's over and it's not so much about picking people up and putting them down again, it's also about not being hit. He's come full circle with Caroline, and he's where he belongs. Judith is 43 and unemployed like me, although I've thought ahead and kept a bunch of weight on so I don't look so drawn. She intimates that she's suicidal (I think) and John looks pensive.

Celia arrives at Alan's place and this time it's a beam of light across his face instead of hers and it's lovely. They chat a bit about living arrangements; where will they live? Alan says they could live in Barkisland where his little house is, or here, he has money in the farm so Gillian could hardly object. Celia solves a mystery for me by suggesting they live in her flat in Caroline's Castle, she helped pay for it.

The thing is, Alan doesn't want to kick out his tenants Darren and Kimberly in Barkisland, they've just had a baby. And what was this about car insurance that she mentioned on the phone? Steve at the garage has told our Celia that if a claim is processed, her premiums may be bumped and she may not even be able to have another insured, given her age and the accident. Alan swears he won't make a claim and she wants to pay for the repairs and he won't let her and should they discuss over lunch? They can take Gillian's Land Rover, or maybe Celia's hire-car and they're spoilt for choice, says Celia, and that's really it.

Gillian is moving rocks about when the smarmy fella from the grocery store drives up to stare at her arse some more. He's called Paul and he thinks quite a lot of his johnson, apparently it's meant to be in magazines and everything! She keeps brushing him and his half-hour off, until they see Alan and Celia drive out in her Land Rover. "Half an hour?" she says? GILLIAN! That guy's yuck!

Celia wants them to think about trading in both their cars for something they've always fancied to share when they're married, all the best things come after statements like " You'll think I'm crackers!"

William arrives home to a mess and a passed out John, it doesn't look like the first time, given his expression as he surveys all the food left out (for two) and a still-awake but very drunk Judith in the back yard asking if he's the taxi? William's home a bit early, due to exams (or revision. Or revision exams?) and John carries on while William just looks at him, disappointed and angry.

The taxi is there and the phone is ringing; it's Caroline. She does want to go out for dinner sometime (not tonight), see if they can find a path forward? He would like that. Then there's this long pause on the phone and both look miserable when they hang up.

John asks William to not mention Judith to Caroline, but William stomps off without agreeing.

Celia and Alan are looking at a fancy red Lexus convertible while talking about always-distracted Caroline. Celia thinks Caroline's unhappy, at least partially due to her being married to entertaining waste-of-space John. And yes! He writes novels, that is what it was!

Alan in turn talks about Gillian and her Eddie, so the mystery will be solved right away, yay! Oh err ooh, he was a wrong 'un and it turned out he killed himself and that's nothing to yay about. Alan says people were drawn to Eddie, but he never was, calling Eddie a bully and a coward. And he's STILL messing with Gillian's head, 10 years on.

A car salesman strides by, throwing a "need any help?" over his shoulder while heading outside for likelier prospects, but Alan stops him when he says they'd like to test drive this one. Celia laughs to herself while the car salesman tries to work out if they mean it or whether he should give it attention, and it's a lovely contrast for how people are normally treated on a car lot. Usually I have to get them off with a window scraper.

Gillian and Paul are cleaning up post-romp, all this charming post-coital lovey-doviness: "Right. Bugger off." "Till next time." Awww young love!

Celia has properly identified the car salesman as thinking they're wasting his time, he comes back to the desk with information Celia already knows and she blows Alan's AND his mind with her negotiation skills; asking for 500 pounds off the price and for it to be ready Saturday, for their engagement party. People make the mistake of thinking all elderly people are stupid or credulous. Certainly there's some of that, but I have it on good authority that most older people used to be younger people, and a good number of them don't forget everything they've learned the moment a hair turns grey.

Related: a great aunt of mine bought a blue Mustang convertible at 83 and disappeared on a long trip to two provinces over, freaking all of us out, mostly because she had no feeling below her knees, but you have to admire the spirit.

They drive back to the farm to find Gillian waiting with a cake, wasn't that Paul Jatri, Alan says? Oh yes, says Gillian and "isn't he marrying that Creswell girl?" continues Alan and er-oooh. Small towns. Celia and Alan are trying not to say what they've been up to and Gillian's avoiding the Paul Jatri conversation, so cake it is!

Gillian ask Celia is she can put a word in with her to Caroline, she knows she stole her parking spot, she was just worried about her dad. That's two people within 12 hours that have asked Celia to handle Caroline on their behalf and the day's not over yet!

Alan and Celia tell Gillian about the engagement party there on Saturday (fantastic!), and she finally properly congratulates them. She's off into the other room and at last Alan and Celia kiss!! The light comes over them both and it's glorious.

Gillian and Alan are watching Celia drive away, she thinks it's time to tell Raff about Eddie, before he finds out from someone else. He thinks she's wise.

Caroline arrives home to her Harrogate Castle to find a still slurring John setting a fancy table and declaring "I'm cooking" which prompts a "no shit, Sherlock" which I KNOW I saw as a gif but could not find. He asks about the Inspectorate, William sitting nearby looks as though he's sucking directly on a lemon, but doesn't rat his dad out just yet. John says Caroline has news! Lawrence wants to know if she's pregnant, Caroline snapping back with "Oh, don't be stupid. I'm 45" and stranger things have happened! But not today, the news is about Celia getting married. Lawrence looks confused "how?" but Caroline insists it won't happen. My money's on Celia.

I started watching the series for Sarah Lancashire, whose work I loved in Happy Valley, but I'm really drawn to Ann Reid in this one, she's grace and gentle humour personified. As you were!

Gillian is explaining to Raff about Eddie, but she can't say just why he did it. It's impossible to know what demons people are wrestling with and there were a lot of good things about his dad. And not to worry, Raff's more like Alan, kind and balanced and I swear I won't keep bringing up Happy Valley, but that echos Catherine's concerns about Ryan, who has half a murderer / rapist's DNA and a parent lost to suicide. Gillian just didn't want Raff to find out about his dad from Robbie, who's had a hard time with being left behind.

Celia pops into Caroline's kitchen to let her know about the engagement party, only to have Caroline address her like a child: "come in and sit down" although I guess she IS a Headteacher. Celia's face falls, but she listens, coming to be disciplined with the ruler. Caroline wants to know why she's rushing into this but Celia says she's been in love with Alan for 60 years which doesn't seem to allay any of Caroline's concerns. "People...alter!" How does Celia know how much money he has? Of course she does, he has a pension and a house and rental income, "he's not short. I'm not daft" and Caroline agrees, she's never been daft, so I was wrong about what Caroline's body language was screaming at the pub.

Celia says she knows Alan better than she knows herself, and I know someone like that. I think Caroline does too, because she smiles for the first time and it's lovely. They have a beautiful bonding moment with Celia talking about how life would have been with Alan; "you wouldn't have had me!" says Caroline. And Celia says "Oh I think I would. I think I would always have had you" and I'm not crying, you're crying!!

Celia asks Caroline to give Gillian another chance, she's had a lot to deal with as well. "As well as who??" asks Caroline, looking a bit sheepish when Celia says "you!"

It's Saturday and John's come to gather Caroline from her room; she's furiously brushing her hair and is all nerves while he tries to bring up moving out of the spare room (but no sex, obviously). She says she's done a stupid thing, but amends it to "said" a stupid thing when pressed. She explains about her first meeting with Gillian; she's nervous. He loves that about her! "So snotty, arrogant and glorious!" She's going to apologize to Gillian and maybe he can come start sleeping in here after all.

Caroline, Celia, John, William and Lawrence have a hilarious ride out to the farm ("if someone would look for the bag PROPERLY" and "THERE'S ALWAYS A BAG" made me legit laugh out loud) punctuated by William throwing up on the side of the road (that Caroline didn't want to turn down anyway, the sat-nav told her to wait 6 more miles and now I have to ask a question: isn't England metric like Canada? I mean, isn't that where we got it from?).

They make it! Gillian and Alan are rushing around and Raff shows up with a bloody face, saying he stumbled while walking back from Oggie's farm in the dark, but Gillian and I are skeptical. She gives him that "we'll discuss this later" look we mothers like to give when dealing with dissembling right before a big event and everyone goes outside to meet the Celia and family.

Caroline and Gillian make up, apologies from both and then onto the champagne inside. A dog and a chicken mill around outside.

Inside Alan gives a lovely speech explaining how he and Celia are not exactly rushing in, and he includes the part about the missing letter and that's why the standing up and he TRIES to leave Eileen out of it, but Gillian presses and it comes out. She looks miserable after as everyone toasts and their fancy new sports car arrives. Lawrence is EXCITED! Gillian and Caroline less so. It's what they're doing instead of an engagement ring!

Caroline wants to know what they're doing spending all that money on something they'll need a hip replacement to get in and out of but Gillian just is shaken by the amount of money and hey, her mother probably would have liked one too. Whoops.

It's a tricky thing, telling someone in essence that they only married their mother because they thought their favoured option stood them up, at least that's what Gillian's heard.

The police arrive! Oh and it's Robbie and he's here to arrest Raff, who didn't get those facial contusions falling down after all (which Gillian says anyway, even though she knew it wasn't true - we mothers have no confusion as to whose side we're always on) it was from assaulting Paul Jatri, who's been saying things about Gillian. Robbie says it's just a talk with the Inspector and probably a caution, but he's got to take him in now.

I TOLD you, Gillian!! I told you he was an indiscreet bastard and you'd think that wouldn't be the case, given his ENGAGEMENT but I've been there. But to her SON, I mean?

Caroline is over to the side rolling her eyesΒ  and saying, quite clearly inside her head "told you they were trailer trash" and John jumps in, asking Robbie to hold the cautioning until after the engagement party and he's so ineffectual and bad with words: how is he a writer?

William has HAD it with his wanker dad and spills the whole story about coming home and finding Judith in the house. Everyone pauses while Caroline stares at John and he stares at the ground.

And then everything starts again, everyone rushing to the police station or Harrogate, but no ride for John, no way. Caroline tells him not to come back and Celia slaps him across the face, hard. She's wanted to do that for years! And we're out at John in the courtyard of the farm, kept company only by a chicken.

Well. That's quite a lot for one show, isn't it? We've found out that Eddie killed himself, John backslid directly into Judith, Paul and Gillian had an(other) ill-advised romp and Celia and Alan have a sexy, sexy car. Until next time!

And I really do mean it, email me if I've gotten something horribly wrong, I understandΒ  lot of people have watched this show rather a few more times than I have.


  • That does it. I am going to start viewing this series. It sounds like a quality show. As I get older, I find I have less patience for dreck television.

    • Dixie M

      You won’t regret it! πŸ‘ŒπŸΌ

    • I do watch a lot of dreck as well, that’s what I enjoy the really GOOD shows in between, like a change as good as a rest! Last Tango in Halifax is a truly great show

  • PLL