Suranne Jones joins Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack

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Suranne Jones will star in Gentleman Jack, the new BBC One/HBO co-production from Sally Wainwright, who previously worked with the actress on Scott & Bailey.

The Bafta-winning actress will play 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”. To do this, she must marry well, and she plans for that partner to be a woman.

Jones said: “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 once again get to 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.”

Anne’s story is based on historical fact, with the show basing the character on the intimate diaries she kept in a secret code that’s now been broken.

“I am delighted to be working with Suranne once again, not just as a writer this time, but as a director,” said Wainwright. “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.”

In addition to Scott & Bailey, Jone and Wainwright have worked together on Dead Clever and Unforgiven.

Faith Penhale, executive producer at Lookout Point, added: “ 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.”