Gentleman Jack (TV series)

Last updated

Gentleman Jack
Gentleman Jack.jpg
Created by Sally Wainwright
Written bySally Wainwright
Directed by
  • Sally Wainwright
  • Sarah Harding
  • Jennifer Perrott
Theme music composer Murray Gold
Ending theme"Gentleman Jack" by O'Hooley & Tidow [1]
Country of origin
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes8 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Sally Wainwright
  • Faith Penhale
  • Laura Lankester
ProducerPhil Collinson
  • Matt Gray
  • Nick Dance
  • Simon Chapman
Camera setup
Running time60 minutes
Production companyLookout Point
Original network
Picture format 2:1 HDTV
Original release22 April 2019 (2019-04-22) 
External links
Production website

Gentleman Jack is a historical drama television series created by Sally Wainwright. [lower-alpha 1] Set in the year 1832 in Yorkshire, it stars Suranne Jones as landowner and industrialist Anne Lister. The series is based on the collected diaries of Lister, which contain over four million words and are written largely in secret code, documenting a lifetime of lesbian relationships. [4] [5]


Gentleman Jack is a BBC One and HBO co-production. [6] The series premiered on 22 April 2019 in the United States, [7] and in the United Kingdom on 19 May 2019. [8] It was renewed for a second series by BBC One on 23 May 2019. [9] Production on the second series, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed in October 2020. [10]


Set in 1832, the brilliant, endearing Miss Anne Lister leaves Hastings brokenhearted and heads to the lush landscape of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England to restore her uncle's estate that she has inherited. While restoring the estate she finds that the family land has a coal mine and finds that it is being stolen by two brothers. This newly instated, unusual lady landowner and landlord encounters a potentially blossoming and dangerous romance with another woman, which she records in a cryptic diary that no one can decode.

Cast and characters





No.TitleDirected byWritten byUS air dateUK air dateUS viewers
UK viewers
(millions) [11]
1"I Was Just Passing" Sally Wainwright Sally Wainwright22 April 2019 (2019-04-22)19 May 20190.441 [12] 6.70
In 1832, worldly Anne Lister returns to Halifax, West Yorkshire after her former lover, Vere Hobart, leaves her to marry a man. Taking over the management of her family's ancestral home Shibden Hall, Lister discovers that not only has the estate been neglected and the rents uncollected, but there is considerable coal on the property that could be mined at great profit. A chance meeting introduces her to the shy but wealthy heiress Ann Walker, who lives nearby.
2"I Just Went There To Study Anatomy"Sally WainwrightSally Wainwright29 April 2019 (2019-04-29)26 May 20190.437 [13] 5.88
Anne Lister begins a dangerous venture of courting Ann Walker. Meanwhile, Lister continues to fight the Rawson brothers for coal and enlists the help of Mr. Washington to claim her money. After learning of Eugénie's pregnancy, John Booth decides to assist her in concealing her secret. After attending the wedding of Vere Hobart, Lister feels closure and begins her pursuit of Ann Walker to the Lake District.
3"Oh Is That What You Call It?"Sarah HardingSally Wainwright6 May 2019 (2019-05-06)2 June 20190.338 [14] 5.70
Anne and Miss Walker's relationship begins to become intimate. Anne proposes a future with Miss Walker of them living together as a married couple. Miss Walker responds by saying they should wait six months before committing. The Rawson brothers try to outmanoeuvre Anne in the coal business by making a low offer. Mr. Booth proposes marriage to Eugénie to protect her honour. Feeling powerless, Marian threatens her sister by marrying a man to bear a male heir and challenge the ownership of Shibden. Anne realises Sam Sowden arrived to work drunk and dismisses him. Sowden's drunken threats force Thomas to take him home and tie him up. Later on, Thomas feeds him to the family pigs.
4"Most Women Are Dull and Stupid"Sarah HardingSally Wainwright13 May 2019 (2019-05-13)9 June 20190.427 [15] 5.94
Mrs. Priestly develops grave concerns over Ann's newfound love with Anne Lister. After news of Mrs. Ainsworth's death, Ann suffers a bereavement as her secret begins to unravel. Anne continues to deal with the Rawson brothers in a fight to reclaim what they have stolen. After a proposal of an engagement from the newly widowed Reverend Ainsworth, Ann must make a decision. Eugénie suffers a miscarriage and calls off her engagement with John Booth, much to his dismay. Thomas feigns ignorance with his family and others regarding the death of his father and fears for his tenancy.
5"Let's Have Another Look at Your Past Perfect"Jennifer PerrottSally Wainwright20 May 2019 (2019-05-20)16 June 20190.362 [16] 5.59
Reverend Thomas Ainsworth travels to Halifax and sets his sights on Ann Walker. Hearing of Ainsworth's arrival, Miss Lister sets out to deal with him in her own way. While Anne Lister proposes marriage to Miss Walker, Mrs Priestley spreads vicious statements about Anne Lister's character and her being a lesbian to Miss Parkhill, which ultimately leads to Ann Walker's detriment. Thomas Sowden's mother comes to the realisation of Sam Sowden's mysterious disappearance. Ann Walker fights and struggles to reconcile her desire for Anne Lister with the mix of her family's expectations and her faith eventually leading to Ann vociferously shunning Anne. In an attempt to keep Lister away from Walker to stop her from taking Ann's money to sink her coal-pits, Christopher Rawson sends a thug to beat up and intimidate Anne.
6"Do Ladies Do That?"Jennifer PerrottSally Wainwright27 May 2019 (2019-05-27)23 June 20190.499 [17] 5.82
Anne returns to Shibden after having been beaten and laments over her loss of Ann. Thomas Sowden begins his own courtship over Suzannah Washington despite class restraints. Ann Walker's mental state takes a turn for the worse as she struggles to reconcile her homosexuality with her religious beliefs. Anne struggles with her desire to help Ann while balancing her coal ventures. John Abbott is twice invited to tea at Shibden, but Anne refuses to meet him each time, much to Marian's chagrin. Anne writes to Ann's sister and husband in Scotland, who decide that Ann should stay with them. Anne implores Ann to stay with them to recuperate. Before Ann departs, she once again refuses Anne's marriage proposal.
7"Why've You Brought That?"Sally WainwrightSally Wainwright3 June 2019 (2019-06-03)30 June 20190.270 [18] 5.45
Thomas Sowden visits Suzannah's father and asks for her hand in marriage. Anne confronts Christopher Rawson over his disrespectful treatment of Marian. Offering the deeds to Shibden Estate as collateral, Anne takes out a loan to finance the sinking of a new coal pit. Her former lover Marianna Lawton joins her in London. Heartbroken over Ann Walker's rejection, Anne implores Marianna to leave her husband and come to live with her at Shibden. Miserable and alone, Anne continues her journey to Paris. Meanwhile, Ann Walker's mental health deteriorates further while staying in Scotland with her relatives, and she deeply gashes her hand from shattering a glass.
8"Are You Still Talking?"Sally WainwrightSally Wainwright10 June 2019 (2019-06-10)7 July 20190.365 [19] 6.14
The sinking of the coal pit runs into unexpected financial problems, putting ownership of Shibden Hall at risk. While Anne is enjoying herself in Copenhagen and socialising with the royal court, she is summoned home after receiving a letter that her Aunt may die of gangrene. Meanwhile, Ann Walker leaves Scotland, much to the chagrin of Captain Sutherland. Ann Walker meets with Anne Lister, and says that she is ready to marry her. Lister takes Walker to the church where they take the sacrament together, and Ann agrees to move into Shibden Hall. Meanwhile, Thomas Sowden marries Suzannah Washington, but his uncle's presence at the wedding reveals to Washington's father that the uncle had not written a letter saying Sam had moved to America.

Background and production

In November 2016, screenwriter Sally Wainwright was awarded the £30,000 screenwriting fellowship grant from the charitable organisation the Wellcome Trust, in partnership with Film4 and the British Film Institute. [20] Wainwright disclosed to the media that she was writing a drama series about the landowner, industrialist, and intellectual Anne Lister and would use the grant to further her research. [21] In March 2017, it was announced that BBC One and American network HBO had commissioned the eight-part series, provisionally titled "Shibden Hall", after Lister's ancestral home of the same name. [4] Wainwright was announced as the series' director, and executive producer together with Piers Wenger and Faith Penhale. [4] A native of Yorkshire, Wainwright had grown up in the environs of Shibden Hall and had had ambitions to write a drama based on Anne Lister for over 20 years. [4] [22] She described Lister as "a gift to a dramatist" and "one of the most exuberant, thrilling and brilliant women in British history". [4]

In July 2017, the series was renamed Gentleman Jack and Suranne Jones was announced in the protagonist role of Lister. [23] Wainwright, who had previously worked with Jones in Scott & Bailey and Unforgiven , [24] deemed her capable of embodying the "boldness, subtlety, energy and humour" required to depict Lister. [25] In April 2018, Sophie Rundle joined the production as Ann Walker, Lister's intended spouse. [26]

In November 2018, Katherine Kelly was cast in the role of Ann Walker's sister, Elizabeth Sutherland, Sofie Gråbøl as Queen Marie of Denmark and Tom Lewis as Thomas Sowden. [27]

The series' ending theme song "Gentleman Jack" was written, and is performed, by O'Hooley & Tidow. It was first released in 2012. [1] [28]


Shibden Hall was the historical home of Anne Lister and used as the filming location Shibden Hall, Halifax - - 1804046.jpg
Shibden Hall was the historical home of Anne Lister and used as the filming location

Location shooting took place in Yorkshire and surrounding areas, including Shibden Hall as Anne Lister's home and Sutton Park, Yorkshire as Ann Walker's home. [29] [30]

The final scenes of series one were shot in Goodramgate and Precentor's Court. [31] Duncombe Place, Minster Yard and High Trinity Church were used earlier in the series. [32]


BBC One released a teaser trailer for the series on 8 March 2019, [33] followed by the first official trailer on 18 March 2019. [34] [35] The first trailer from HBO was also released on 18 March 2019. [36]


Gentleman Jack premiered first in the US on 22 April 2019; [37] [7] [38] followed by the UK premiere on 19 May 2019. [39] [8] The series premiered in Australia on Fox Showcase on 19 May 2019. [40]


The Hollywood Reporter described Gentleman Jack as a "funny, smart, and touching story" which at times has the main character talk to the camera to explain her inner thoughts, allowing aspects of Lister's diary to be used. [41] The Guardian review said "Suranne Jones rocks Halifax as the first modern lesbian...Anne Lister's diary [becomes] a thrilling coal-town romp that flirts with parody, so maybe it's Queer Brontë." [42] Variety pointed up the drama's uniqueness: "Wainwright makes an intriguing choice that sets up a decidedly adult romance about devotion, trust and partnership that is rare for TV in general, let alone for lesbian characters in a period piece." [43]

Awards and nominations

YearNominated workAwardResult
2019Gentleman Jack TVTimes Award for Best Actress [44] Won
TVTimes Award for Favourite Drama [44] Won
2020 National Television Award for Best Drama Performance [45] Nominated
National Television Award for New DramaNominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress [46] Nominated
Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor – Female [47] Nominated
Royal Television Society Award for Best Drama Series [48] Won
British Academy Television Award for Best Actress [49] Nominated
British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series [49] Nominated


The series tie-in paperback was released on 25 April 2019 by BBC Books in the United Kingdom under the title Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister; and on 4 June 2019 in the United States by Penguin Random House as Gentleman Jack: The Diaries of Anne Lister. [50] [51] The book is authored by Anne Choma, who served as the historical adviser for the series.

See also


  1. Gentleman Jack: The Life and Times of Anne Lister – The Official Companion to the BBC Series was published in 2019 alongside the programme. [2] [3]

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