June 2012 : The name of this show has been changed to “Last Tango in Halifax”. Read all about it in this Post.
We’ve known about this project for some time now, but refrained from logging a post about it out of respect to the production company who was supposed to make a formal announcement about recent casting for the show a couple of weeks ago. They haven’t done that, but in the meantime, Twitter and other forums have been full of speculation about the show, so we might as well make this post public.
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.
One cast member made Nicola’s involvement in this show public when he tweeted about this in mid December 2011. However, shortly after he tweeted this, he deleted the tweet immediately when he realized that the casting news has not yet been made official. This cast member is also appearing in another TV project in 2012 with Nicola.
On 3 January 2012, @SophieB_ noticed that Nicola’s Spotlight page has been updated to include news of Nicola’s casting as “Gillian” in this show. Thanks to others on Twitter, we now also know that Euros Lyn is the Director for this show. (You can access Euros’s own website HERE.) Both Euros Lyn and Sally Wainwright have had impressive credits in the past, so we await this show with keen interest. It is curious that Nicola’s Spotlight page has not yet been updated to include her appearance in New Tricks/Old School Ties even though we know, again, via Twitter, that she has already completed filming of her guest role back in December 2011.
There have been other tweets about a read through for a 6 part drama which started today (4th January 2012) in Manchester, from other would-be cast members (though this time not the abovementioned cast member). These actors seem to be all to happy to hint about their involvement and yet when pressed further, they clam up and give some lame excuse like, “Sorry everyone. I’m not allowed to say owt until it’s been announced to the world :(“. In that case, why tweet about the great cast, brilliant scripts and fantastic read throughs in the first place? This is most frustrating for fans. Press officers ought to know by now that Twitter leaks news faster than any other medium!
Filming of Antony and Cleopatra will take place in Yorkshire and Manchester between January and March 2012. An air date has not yet been announced. We have no idea as to why the show has the same title as the Shakespeare play, since the subject matter of the two plays bear no resemblance to each other. Perhaps those Nicola fans who are also Shakespeare scholars can hazard a guess as to why the script writer chose this particular title for her show.
You can access the production company’s website HERE. This site does not appear to have been updated since November 2011.
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.
Update : 11 January 2012
We’ve found out who have been cast as the two leads of this show. Derek Jacobi will play “Antony” and Anne Reid will play “Cleopatra”. We found this information in a CV (stumbled across online) of one of the crew (not cast) members on the show. Neither the production company nor the BBC has yet made any formal announcement of the cast list, but if this new info is correct, then we think its brilliant and inspired casting. All of the supporting cast (i.e. the children and the baggage) will have to work hard to keep up with these two strong veterans of stage and screen.
Coincidentally, Shepherd Management announced today that Dean Andrews will be joining Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in this project. Another actor known to have been cast is Tony Gardner.
@IanWylie just tweeted that Nicola has been confirmed to play Derek Jacobi’s daughter, Gillian, in this drama. Another cast member mentioned in Ian’s tweet is Sarah Lancashire. Thanks to Ian, you can read the BBC press release HERE. (Between last May and today, the BBC appeared to have decided to drop the “h” in “Antony”.)
Nicola to play the mother of a teenage son? That’s about as far away from “Ruth Evershed” as you can get. YES!
@IanWylie then tweeted
Spoke to Antony and Cleopatra writer Sally W last week. Much of it is about Nicola Walker and Sarah Lancashire’s characters
I guess that means we can expect a more detailed write-up from Ian, closer to the air date when the embargo on interviews and publicity is lifted.
Here’s a family chart we’ve compiled, showing you the relationships between the various characters. As we receive more casting news, we will update this chart to include additional characters. (click on the image to view a larger pic)
For more info, updates and photos, please turn to the next page.
Update : 12 January 2012
Tony Gardner has shared this pic on Twitter of the two young actors who will be playing sons on this show.
The young man on the right, Josh Bolt, 17, will be playing Nicola’s character’s son.*
See comments on this pic from Liz below. Thanks, Liz.