Sunday 16 June 2019

Suranne Jones drama 'Gentleman Jack' commissioned for second series

Sophie Rundle and Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack (Lookout Point/Jay Brooks/PA)
Sophie Rundle and Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack (Lookout Point/Jay Brooks/PA)

Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

The BBC's lesbian period drama Gentleman Jack will return to screens for a second series.

The eight-part series about Regency-era landowner Anne Lister - who is regarded as the "first modern lesbian" - has been commissioned for another season following its debut on BBC One on Sunday.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 14/05/2019 – Programme Name: Gentleman Jack – TX: n/a – Episode: Gentleman Jack – Generics (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Anne Lister (SURANNE JONES), Ann Walker (SOPHIE RUNDLE) – (C) Lookout Point/HBO – Photographer: Jay Brooks
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 14/05/2019 – Programme Name: Gentleman Jack – TX: n/a – Episode: Gentleman Jack – Generics (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Anne Lister (SURANNE JONES), Ann Walker (SOPHIE RUNDLE) – (C) Lookout Point/HBO – Photographer: Jay Brooks

Starring Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones as Lister, the episode was the most successful launch for a new BBC drama this year, having scored an average overnight audience of 5.1 million, the broadcaster said.

The series also stars Peaky Blinders actress Sophie Rundle as Ann Walker, Lister's lover.

Suranne Jones, left, and Sophie Rundle in Gentleman Jack (Matt Squire/BBC/PA)
Suranne Jones, left, and Sophie Rundle in Gentleman Jack (Matt Squire/BBC/PA)

Lister's diaries were adapted for TV by Sally Wainwright, who has told of her joy at the recommission.

Wainwright, who also created Happy Valley and Last Tango In Halifax, said: "It's so exciting that so many people have had such a positive response to Suranne's exuberant performance as the brilliant, life-affirming Anne Lister and to Sophie's beautiful performance as her courageous partner, Ann Walker.

Suranne Jones as the character Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack (BBC/PA)
Suranne Jones as the character Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack (BBC/PA)

"I'm utterly delighted that we've been recommissioned, because there are so many more big, bold stories to tell about Anne Lister and Ann Walker."

Jones said: "I'm so thrilled that I will be joining Sally Wainwright on the second part of Anne's journey.

"We always dreamed there would be more and now we get to play it all out."

She added that "it's such amazing and positive news" and praised her "brilliant and talented" co-star Rundle.

Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, said: "Gentleman Jack exudes sass and originality, and has been a huge hit with our BBC One audience. We look forward to continuing Anne Lister's journey with Sally, Suranne and the rest of the team."

Alongside Jones and Rundle, the series also stars Gemma Jones, Timothy West, Stephanie Cole, Peter Davison and Amelia Bullmore.

The first episode saw Lister returning to Halifax from her travels and setting her sights on finding a wife, and included a steamy sex scene.

Viewers praised the programme for its focus on a historic LGBT couple in a prime-time slot.

Further details of the second series, which will include another eight episodes, will be announced in due course.

Gentleman Jack continues on BBC One.

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