LTiH fka Anthony and Cleopatra

Ed’s Note : Parts of the following piece previously appeared in our “Antony and Cleopatra” post which was published on 4 January 2012.

Back in May 2011, the BBC announced the commissioning of a number of new dramas, including this show. The press release at the time stated

Anthony And Cleopatra, 6×60 series, written by Sally Wainwright and made by Red Production Company

New series for BBC One about love and second chances, set in the autumn years of two old school friends. Alan and Celia, both widowed and in their 70s, unexpectedly fall for each other when they meet again after nearly 50 years. Their relationship is a celebratory tale of the uplifting power of love at any age. But this is also a story about family, and about history. Both Alan and Celia have families, and with family comes baggage.

Why was the show named “Antony & Cleopatra?”

There has been no official explanation, but perhaps this entry from On the Box’s 10 TV Shows to Look Out For in 2012 gives a clue :

A bit of gentle BBC drama which tells the story of two old school friends who meet after 50 years of family life and fall in luuurve. The two widowed 70-year-olds (not called Anthony or Cleopatra), have a whole load of baggage to bring to the relationship which promises to make this a realistic and unique approach to the usual TV love story plot. Written by Sally Wainwright, who penned the popular Unforgiven for ITV earlier this year, the drama will feature as part of the BBC’s Shakespeare season which will see several of the bard’s plays remade for your televisual viewing pleasure.

Throughout the filming of Series 1, to cast and crew, the show remained “Anthony and Cleopatra”, until sometime in March 2012. The new name for the show was first mentioned in this article which appeared in the Radio Times on 12 March 2012. The writer, Sally Wainwright, was being interviewed in connection with Series 2 of Scott & Bailey. In the article, Sally said,

… she’s baffled by the lack of meaty roles for mature women. “I’m aware of actresses who get to a certain age and say that there are few parts for them and I just don’t understand it. I’ve just written Last Tango in Halifax [for BBC1], which has two female characters in their late 40s and there’s just so much life about women of that age.”

In an interview producer Karen Lewis did with BBC Radio Leeds on 25 August 2014 (you can read a transcript of the radio interview on this Page), Ms. Lewis talked about the show’s original name and its subsequent name change :

Karen : … But originally, it wasn’t called [Last Tango in Halifax], its was called “Anthony & Cleopatra” because Alan and Celia were equated with Anthony & Cleopatra, if you remember that line from the Shakespeare play, “age cannot wither her, and something something something …”

Nick : “… and beauty cannot …”

Karen : Yeah that’s right. It was called that way, until we finished shooting and editing and everything. And then the BBC was having a Shakespeare season, and they thought it would be massively confusing to have something going out with Derek Jacobi in it called “Anthony & Cleopatra” … So it would confuse the audience and lots of people, you know, wouldn’t actually switch on.

Which brings us to the next question, why “Last Tango in Halifax”? Surely that raised similar confusion with that film with a similar title, “Last Tango in Paris”? We have not been able to find an official explanation for this, but in interviews done with Anne Reid for Series 1, she mentioned that whilst fooling around on set, she discovered that Derek Jacobi can really dance. At Anne’s request, a special scene was included in Series 1 where Alan and Celia danced the jitterbug to a 50s tune on the radio. Perhaps that scene inspired the name change for the show.


In the very first scene of Series 1 Episode 1, when Celia, Caroline and William, Caroline’s eldest son were having afternoon tea in a cafe, William is shown reading from Shakespeare’s Anthony & Cleopatra, perhaps for his A Level exams. In a later scene in Caroline’s house, William continues to be shown reading from this book.

Order from Amazon UK

You can order the show’s DVD box sets (Regions 2 and 4 compatible) from Amazon UK. Purchases made through these links will help us raise money for Nicola’s charity, the MS Society of the UK.


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