BAFTA winner Suranne Jones to star as Regency superwoman Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack, Sally Wainwright’s new drama for BBC One and HBO
Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster, Save Me, Scott & Bailey) will lead the cast of Gentleman Jack (formerly known as Shibden Hall), in the forthcoming BBC One/HBO drama series created, written and directed by Sally Wainwright (To Walk Invisible, Last Tango In Halifax, Happy Valley). Gentleman Jack is a Lookout Point production for the BBC, co-produced with HBO.
The BAFTA award winning Suranne Jones will star as Anne Lister, the remarkable landowner who – after years of exotic travel and social climbing – returns to Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1832, determined to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall. The series will be the latest collaboration between Suranne and Sally, following their previous work together on Dead Clever, Unforgiven, and Scott & Bailey.
Suranne Jones says: “I first worked with Sally 10 years ago and I remember the feeling of reading her scripts like it was yesterday. They were scripts for women; fresh, daring and bizarre in a wonderful, modern, fun, complex and challenging way. Now I get to once again speak the words of an almighty talent on a show I know she holds close to her heart. To have Sally direct me on this feels like I’ll finally get to work on a project with her where the connection will be immediate, exciting and new each day and we can enjoy that amazing ride together! I’m thrilled to be back at the BBC with this role and to be joining the Lookout Point and HBO family.”
Sally Wainwright says: “I am delighted to be working with Suranne once again, not just as a writer this time, but as a director. Bringing Anne Lister to life with all her complexity, passion, brilliance and wit is an epic challenge that will require all the boldness, subtlety, energy and humour that I know only Suranne will bring to it.”
To restore Shibden Hall to its former glory, Anne must re-open her coal mines and marry well. But this isn’t just another Regency romance. Charismatic, single-minded, swashbuckling Anne Lister – who dressed head-to-foot in black and charmed her way into high society – has no intention of marrying a man. True to her own nature, she plans to marry a woman. And not just any woman: the woman Anne Lister marries must be seriously wealthy.
Every part of Anne’s story is based in historical fact, recorded in the four million words of her diaries that contain the most intimate details of her life, once hidden in a secret code that is now broken.
Gentleman Jack is a remarkable and unlikely love story, set in the complex, changing world of Halifax – the cradle of the industrial revolution – just as it’s all kicking off. The drama will explore Anne Lister’s relationships at home with her family, her servants, her tenants and her industrial rivals, who will use any dirty tricks they can to bring her down. At its heart is her relationship with her would-be wife, the wealthy heiress Ann Walker. It has all the warmth, wit, humour and complexity that audiences have come to associate with Sally Wainwright’s writing.
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, said: “Suranne is a screen actor of the highest calibre who brings wit, depth and attack to every character she plays. We are so fortunate to have her as our Anne. Sally’s wonderful writing is in some very exciting hands.”
Faith Penhale, Lookout Point Executive Producer, adds: “I can’t think of anyone better to play the magnificent and mercurial Anne Lister – Suranne is one of Britain’s most compelling screen actors, she is the perfect match for Sally’s outstanding scripts and together they will create unforgettable television.”
Gentleman Jack will begin filming next year, with further casting to be announced in due course. Suranne will next be seen on BBC One in the second series of Doctor Foster, airing this Autumn.
The 8×60’ series has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning. It will be directed by Sally Wainwright, produced by Lookout Point for BBC One, and co-produced with HBO. Executive Producers are Sally Wainwright, Faith Penhale for Lookout Point, Piers Wenger for BBC One, and Francesca Orsi and Kathleen McCaffrey for HBO. The producer is Sanne Wohlenberg.
Suranne Jones is represented by Shepherd Management LTD in the UK and Grandview Management Corps in the US.
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