The Conversation: Last Tango in Halifax star Annie Reid on getting naked with Daniel Craig and writing letters to Woody Allen

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You recently completed filming the second series of Last Tango in Halifax. How was it? Well, you know, you can't tell until the cake comes out of the oven. But it was great. I'm just the luckiest person in the world to have all these wonderful parts at an age where one might not be working. My career just seems to go on and on, touch wood.

You must be very happy with the programme's success. Thrilled, and it's just opened in America to very good notices. That's really exciting.

Downton is doing amazingly well out there. Yes, but Downton is an American's idea of England really, isn't it? I think they think that we still live like that with lots of servants...

Why do you think Downton has been so successful? If I knew that dear, I'd be a very rich woman.

So how does Derek Jacobi compare as a screen partner to Daniel Craig? Well it's slightly different, darling. I've got to know Derek a great deal better than I knew Daniel. Because it was one film [The Mother] and taking your clothes off and getting into bed with someone doesn't make you know them at all.

But you and Derek have a lot of fun together? We do, but it's still terribly hard work. The hours are killers. I was told once, I don't whether it's a myth, that in France they don't start until after lunch. I think I must learn to speak French very quickly and go and work there. I'm better in the afternoons. I'm not great at half past six in the morning; my face hasn't come to until about 10.

You said once you wished you'd done Hollywood. What I'd love to do, once before I die, is appear in an American sitcom. Not a series, just one episode, so I'm not asking much. I do a cabaret now and while I'm in New York, I'm going to make some enquiries.

How about working with Woody Allen? You could be his next leading lady. Well, I auditioned for a film of his but Pauline Collins got the part. And when I made The Mother with Daniel Craig, I thought I'm going to write to Woody Allen and I'm going to say, 'In the unlikely event that you make a film in my country, in London, please would you put me on your list and let me audition for it'. And then I thought, 'No, he won't ever make a film in London'. Well, of course the following year he did and he's never blooming well stopped since then. I should have sent the letter!

Across your career you've played a dinner lady, a hairdresser... I've played lots of different things!

Have you ever thought, playing any of these roles, 'Oh I would have been good at that in real life'? No, darling, I couldn't have been a teacher.

How about a dinner lady or a hairdresser? I could have been a hairdresser, I suppose. A dinner lady? No I can't cook at all. I've never really mastered the oven and I've had one for years. I've cooked a pizza in it a couple of times and that's it. My one regret is that I didn't go on with my music. I play the piano rather badly but I love it. I would have liked to have been, in another life, a jazz pianist or a racing driver. I would have loved to have raced around the track; I think that would have been great.


Born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, Anne Reid made her name as Val Barlow in Coronation Street. She has since appeared in Dinnerladies, The Mother and on stage. In Last Tango in Halifax, which returns on 19 November on BBC1, she stars as a septuagenarian  reunited with her teen love interest.