Last Tango in Halifax S5:E1.3 Happy Tango Recap

We’re back in North England for Last Tango in Halifax and we have.a.crossover!!! This episode will cross us with Sarah Lancashire and Sally Wainwright’s other show: Happy Valley. Since I first met the gloriousness that is Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley, I’m happier than a camel on Wednesday. If we could just work in Stellan Skarsgård from River for a Nicola Walker crossover…and we’re off! Join me in discussing all the spoilers for LTiH S5:E03 after the break!

We open at Waverley Supermarket, where Alan Buttershaw (Derek Jacobi) has just been gainfully employed and where his granddaughter Ellie Greenwood (Katherine Rose Morely) has been for ages.

Speaking of being for ages, Alan’s commenting on every single item he’s ringing through, I love him and all but I’d actively avoid that particular queue like it was on fire. His current customer doesn’t seem to mind, but looks skeptical when the kiddo Alan tried to save wanders up for a chat. Harrison (Liam McCheyne) steals something from the cart before saying hi, Alan would like an apology, fanks!

*D’ya think they’ve found Alan’s brother Ted (Timothy West) yet? He went wandering off in the middle of the night and he’s pre-dementia-ish.

Harrison lies right to Alan’s face about not stealing any more, then asks him if he likes little boys. Jeebus wept. Alan remonstrates with the wee urchin, he’s barking up the wrong tree. Or is he? He seems willing to part with 50p to Harrison, but there are conditions that sound Mafia-ish. Give Harrison 50p or the Lexus gets it.

*I’m not meaning to complain, but do we need five full minutes of Harrison and Alan chit chatting about his path in life? That seemed overlong. I wouldn’t even say anything if we had more than 4 episodes and we spent so much of that on the GIRAFFE.

Back at the bungalow, Celia (Anne Reid) brings in a tray of tea for the men tearing apart her kitchen, must keep the workers happy! I like to provide pizza and soda, but then I’m obsessed with feeding people.

Oh hai, Ted, you’re back! In time to be read for filth by Celia, nobody does it better. Alan calls, he’d like her to “nip down on the bus” and grab the Lexus. Alan. She doesn’t even like YOU nipping anywhere on the bus, is she really going to hop out there and wait by the side of the road like everyone else? She’s not impressed with his explanation of the kiddo extorting cash, but she gathers up Ted and off they go.

We’re off to the Academy with Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) preparing for the upcoming talk with Judith Tyzack (Ronnie Ancona  – Judith got a last name!!), also known as the fianceé of Caroline’s ex-husband John Elliot’s (Tony Gardner). That’s not awkward at ALL.

Actually, it’s not, really, since Caroline has always been very kind to John and the woman he left her for. She thinks Judith proposing to John is hilarious.

Caroline surveys the setup with helper Helen then, with the disastrous supper of last week on her mind, presses forth.

Helen thinks for a minute.

Hahahaha. She may as well have asked her if she knew she had a golden retriever! As it should be, I don’t know why people care what other people do with their pants, unless they’d like in yours. Caroline just wants confirmation that she hasn’t been hiding it, not been stealthily sliding around all secretly gay. (I don’t know what that would look like, but it sounds like it would involve a lot of black, an internal monologue and some instrumental music). She thought everyone knew!

It would be lovely if people weren’t funny about things like that any more.

Helen asks, do you want me to tell people? Yeah, sure, yeah sure, if it comes up, go ahead, yeah.

HAHAHA. Sarah Lancashire does not get enough credit for her light touch with humour. She’s got fantastic timing.

Speaking of timing, here’s Ruth (Lu Corfield) who acted as though she very much did NOT know that Caroline was gay and was very over the top in response. It’s not as though Caroline slid a pass over or anything, they literally sat yards away from each other the entire time except for when Caroline was talking about her dead wife. Honestly. That’s not exactly making a move, is it?

But Ruth still acted as though she’d been doused with ice water, which made Caroline feel bad which made me feel protective and you have two episodes to make Caroline feel safe and happy, Ruth!

Caroline watches her approach, turning away but all vulnerable eyes. That small step back of self-defense, but open to hope.

Oh it’s getting so much worse. Ruth doesn’t want to do the question period with Judith any more, she thinks Caroline only asked her so she’d feel beholden to her. And could invite her around for supper.

I actually feel a little sick to my stomach, why is Ruth coming at Caroline so hard??

Caroline defends herself, but then, perhaps because she’s accustomed to being treated poorly by her mother, she stops and listens, eyes downcast. But how could someone actually think someone named a fully grown dog after a person she met relatively recently? Someone who didn’t even know her well enough to know she’s gay? Flora named the dog!

*I’m not even going to apologize for all the Sarah Lancashire gifs, she conveys so much with her face that the script may as well be written there.

But no! She follows Ruth out of the auditorium to confront her about the session, but Ruth isn’t just mad, she’s hurt. She’s feeling vulnerable and was glad to have the care and support of Caroline, whom she considered a friend and a good boss. The idea that Caroline might be romantically interested in her hadn’t occurred to her (or she hadn’t admitted that to herself), she was devastated to learn that Caroline was possibly considering her as a romantic partner.

*Now. I once. Okay, no, I’ll leave it because I’m aware of my oversharing, but I understand where Ruth is coming from as to a proposition from left field in what she considered to be a safe space.

BUT. Caroline did NOT proposition Ruth, she did nothing of the sort, nothing untoward or anything to be ashamed of whatsover. Ruth finding out that Caroline was gay should not have had that effect, unless Ruth herself felt that someone else’s sexual orientation affected her somehow. In short: if she thinks Caroline only asked her to do something because Caroline was interested in her romantically, that says a hell of a lot more about Ruth’s opinion of herself than it does of Caroline’s intentions.

Now that I’ve psychoanalyzed this show from my amateur psychology viewpoint, let’s continue.

THEN Ruth makes a remark about Caroline’s age and I have to wonder at the overt cruelty. Also, you may not date Caroline, Ruth, I’ve made up my mind, you may go. I SAY GOOD DAY.

John, Judith and her assistant Laura (Anne Leong Brophy) head to the Academy, Judith swigging “water” out of a water bottle that we’re all pretty sure is vodka.

Celia and Ted did indeed make it to Waverley’s on the bus, good show! But neither Celia nor Alan have let up on Ted for wandering off that one morning, so after castigating her for nagging and lauding Alan from getting away from her shrewish tongue, he explains. He went up to Ladston Rock because that’s where he used to go with his wife Alice when they were courting.

MREEP MREEP MREEP!! It’s time for the Happy valley crossover!!!! You remember Cheryl (Rachel Leskovac), whom was engaged to Robbie (Dean Andrews) that Gillian (Nicola Walker) was bouncing on before they technically got together? She’s dressed like Happy Valley police, which confused me in this recap: Last Tango In Halifax S3:E02 BUT there’s more!

Rachel Leskovac was also IN Happy Valley! She played the salon-owning wife of Ashley Cowgill in series 1, nary a police uniform in site for her but this particularly memorable moment.

I really, really like Happy Valley and can’t wait until it comes back. It’s difficult to watch at times, but so well done.

ANYWAY! We’re at Waverley’s and Cheryl (Rachel Leskovac) is doing a welfare check on Ted and stopping for some tea with the gang. She seems really chummy with Ellie, which is surprising given how much she hated Gillian for messing about with Robbie and Gillian being Ellie’s mother-in-law and all.

Hahaha she and Alan don’t get along, I love the look he shoots her when she calls Gillian “Slack Alice” which is probably an English reference I don’t understand. But I got the tone!

Gillian herself is out in her yard staring at the possible Banksy painting of a giraffe on her barn, some people wandering onto her property to look at it get her screaming to be heard over the helicopter above. That wakes up Caroline’s son Lawrence (Louis Greatorex) and new nurse friend from New Zealand: Mia (Catherine Campion), who wander out of their tint to ask where the Sam Hill Lawrence’s friend Angus went.

Angus and Mia’s friend left because they were tired of listening to Lawrence and Mia shagging all night, a visual of which was very upsetting, Sally Wainwright, thank you. We’ve literally watched Lawrence grow up, I do not want to imagine anything whatsoever involving any of his private areas.

Gillian is really not enjoying all the attention the painting has wrought, whatever Cheryl thinks.

To be fair, she’s under a lot of pressure right now. She’s got a second floor full of woodworm, a loan to pay for it that will cripple her financially by inches and a painting that may or may not be worth millions. Life is indeed full of little ironies, but I will say that Gillian does seem to have more than her fair share.

She can still help, though! If anyone’s thinking about sheep farming:

Lawrence tries to help, but really he’s still at the only-taking stage and needs a lift to his mum’s, fanks.

His mum Caroline is freaking out trying to get ready for Judith’s appearance, getting a last minute refresher from her other son William (Dean Smith) aka The Storyline That Almost Was Before It Switched Actors. William is very helpful, he goes full literary snob on Judith’s work. I don’t know who Rose Tremayne is, but apparently that is a compliment for people who write like they think they’re grownups (but aren’t fooling anyone).

John and Caroline have a little confab backstage, Caroline’s feeling overwhelmed because she’s only read one of Judith’s books, once, and watched one movie, once. He reminds her; it’s just Judith, it’ll be alright.

I know everyone hates John and I totally get that, but I do love how they interact together and Tony Gardner is perfect as the hapless ex-husband chasing after his completely disinterested yet kind ex-wife.

Judith is at the drunk and belligerent phase, her assistant Laura tries to reason with her about the impressionable young people she’s going to be talking in front of but Judith is not having it. She threatens Laura’s job, then sends her to fill up the water jug on stage with some more of Judith’s “water.”

So far, no slurring!

Caroline and John enter Caroline’s office, now Judith is at the overfriendly huggy stage. Caroline sends John away and somehow starts spilling about what’s happened. She’s afraid of letting the children down and really, she’s placing far too much emphasis on the question-taking. Just let Judith talk, she’s a great rambler, maybe she’ll be at that stage of intoxication by then. That’s really all you can do when someone’s made that choice. Caroline is not only not the problem, she’d also never do anything like she’s been accused of by Ruth.

Caroline is the nicest person Judith knows! This other person needs their arse kicked and I couldn’t agree more, Judith. Caroline asks for a sip of Judith’s “water” and with that, we’re off with one last bit of advice from Caroline.

Banksy has disavowed the giraffe. Aw man. “That’s a big load of old pants” is probably the best expression I’ve heard today.

Gillian is driving back to the farm as Lawrence tells her this, she gets home to an open gate and most of her sheep on the lam.

Because bad luck runs in threes, we’re not done messing with Gillian today. Cheryl pulls up in her police cruiser.

Hahaha watching Cheryl get out slowly and precisely and adjust her clothing was brilliant.

Before she can talk to Cheryl, her phone rings, her sheep have been found. They got into the cannabis.

They’ve been terrorizing the preschool!

Cheryl gives a hilarious recounting of the sheep running wild in the village, earning my appreciation and a “f*** off Cheryl” from Gillian.

*Allow me to explain why I don’t like Gillian swearing. Gillian never swore. She stopped at the letter “f” quite a lot, repeating the sound and while we all knew what she meant, it was never gratuitous. It made the situation funny, made her seem less arsey and more human, while lord knows she had enough to be arsey about. Now she’s angry and mean and all angles. I know people think that’s gendered, the dislike of angry and unsettled people, but I find it’s jarring. Gillian’s biggest enemy was always Gillian, she made impulsive sexual decisions and never planned ahead, which tended to result in, well, lots of ffffffs. It seemed as though everything was manageable, but when she’s here, hard as nails spitting “f*** off, Cheryl”, it’s like I missed some jail time or something. Can’t we just have nice things? I do accept that other people aren’t as bothered by it. And I’m back off my soapbox! FOR NOW.

Ohhh but here’s the real Happy Valley crossover! Gillian vents about the people goggling near her property and rogue cannabis operations that never get busted, Cheryl’s not taking that!

I would also like to see that!

Oh but Robbie shared at least his suspicions with Cheryl about Gillian killing his brother Eddie, Cheryl leaves with this.

Judith and Caroline have a great talk, there’s a standing ovation after and even a sour-faced Ruth claps along. Ahhhh Judith talked about Caroline being gay in her talk, yay! Now Helen can stand down and doesn’t have to pass out notes to everyone about it. That’s brilliant! Everyone clapped and cheered when she said that, it was lovely!

*Actually teared up, thank the gods a bit of respite from judgement. Although perhaps that was to show Ruth that in the year two thousand and twenty that being gay is alright?

Alan is tailed home from work by young Harrison, going in to find Ted and Celia asleep with Calamity (Tilly Kaye) and Flora (Issacah Hatzer) watching TV. Did they take Gillian’s narcotic couch from the farm??

Alan’s tired, he’d like a cuppa and a biccy before he takes Calamity home and the rest. The kitchen is no more, the kettle’s by the bathroom and Celia’s done nowt for tea.

She grudgingly agrees to make a cuppa for him, but instead comes back to complain about Ted. Alan gives up and tries to call Gillian to come grab Calamity but she’s being yelled at by someone in town about the sheep Lawrence and Mia are chasing everywhere under Cheryl watchful eye.

Caroline pulls up then, she’s shocked by the scorched wreck of a kitchen but all of a sudden Celia is an optimist. In a few days, she won’t recognise it!

Never mind she just spent the last ten minutes complaining about the workers and when they left, etc etc.

Caroline fills Celia and Alan in on her day.


Celia doesn’t want to pick up Flora and Calamity from school any more, now that she’s doing it alone. With Ted. Caroline tries to understand, but this sort of sounds like Celia holding Alan emotional hostage for doing something she doesn’t understand; getting a job.

John and Judith arrive home, she’s also had a good day. He noses around calling off the wedding, but she’s found some more clarity.

(It’s very, very clear at the bottom of a bottle of vodka, especially when it’s poured in a SmartWater bottle)

Then she asks him to leave her posh mansion.

Alan and Gillian talk back at her farm, most of the recovery went well, but three sheep never made it back into the fold and that’s 600 quid down and a million lost this morning. Should she toss it in and get a flat in Rippendon?


She feels as though her life is slipping through her fingers, pushing against a tide trying to make things stay the same or above water.

It must be tea time, because wee Harrison is cooking something over a flame in someone’s shed while reading one of Judith’s books, Ted is drinking wine while staring at the hills and WAIT. Harrison is cooking something in Alan and Celia’s shed!! There’s smoke coming out the door, Ted notices but shrugs it off.

Inside Celia gets a call from Ted’s daughter Nadine, there’s something going on and Celia needs to ask Ted about an Angelina. This was mentioned in conjunction with whether or not Ted is stopping in England with Alan and Celia and the money he supposedly got for his house.

Gillian and Caroline discuss the not-picking-children up issue at Caroline’s house and I cannot watch whatever Caroline is doing to that carrot. Honestly, you can’t peel a carrot properly with a paring knife, and you’re not at the right height, and why is it taking so long? Just give it here! Now Gillian’s cutting around the ends, what??

You need a personal chef, the two of you. I work for cheap! Just gimme access to that Aga!

Caroline and Gillian discuss the problems their parents are having, it’s been since Brexit. Can they get past that? They don’t know, but Caroline’s been thinking herself about marriage. Today was the first time she’s seen John and thought, well, he’s not so bad. Not suicide-inducing, anyway.

*I seriously can’t watch the bottom of the screen. They’re cutting TOWARDS themselves.

Caroline’s struggling with her sense of self and the sheer volume of work being a single mother involves. Gillian asks how the date went, to be shut down immediately.

Gillian prescribes a night out, c’mon to Hebden’s Women’s Disco! not even a heavy night of drinking, Caroline knows that just delays and prolongs problems, it doesn’t solve any.

She’s shocked to hear that Gillian’s thinking of selling up and moving to town but I’ve been thinking it for ages.

Celia explains about Ted’s Angelina, a woman 50 years his junior who took him for everything he had. I will say that Ted is looking quite dashing in the deep red sweater he’s rocking this episode, perhaps he was off at a disco and thought he’d make one more run at it. He wouldn’t be the first. So now he’s got to stop with Celia and Alan, as his children won’t have him after the Angelina debacle.

Now it’s Caroline listening to Lawrence and Mia shag, honestly, stop, when John pulls up outside. Of course he’d go to her. She tells him to go elsewhere and “I’m not your mother” as Judith calls at the exact same time to ASK HER OUT.

Let’s go through this one more time for the seats in the back: John is in Caroline’s house professing his regret at ever looking at anyone else and his former fiancee is ASKING CAROLINE OUT ON A DATE. In the words of Gillian:

When it rains, it pours!

Ted explains about Angelina, he was just very lonely and she liked to do things, he’d forgotten what it was like to be happy. It turns out that Angelina was a practiced scammer, everything was premeditated right from the beginning but I’m glad Ted got out a bit, anyway.

A knock at the door draws Celia away, it’s the dishy Rick (Jonathan Halliwell) from the kitchen workers, the contractor’s gone bust. That means no kitchen, and no money back either. We’re out to a shocked Celia staring in disbelief.

I LOVED the Happy Valley crossover and was very impressed with Rachel Leskovac, who used every single second of her screentime to own every inch of it. I hope to see more of her, if only to solve the issues between her and Gillian.

Thanks much for reading, cheers! Until next time.