For those of us who have adored the excellent series Happy Valley (as well as the series Last Tango in Halifax), the good news is that Sally Wainwright has a new show for us to fawn over. Created, written, and co-directed by Wainwright, Gentleman Jack tells the story of a true-to-life figure, Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) who was a landowner uninterested in living according to society’s male-dominated rules. Fiercely intelligent and without compromise, Anne lives on her own terms — including her seduction of a woman she wishes to be her wife.
In the vein of Killing Eve and Fleabag, the eight-episode Gentleman Jack looks to be a celebration of women who aren’t afraid to live on their own terms, despite the pushback from everyone around them. Lister’s extensive diaries serve as a basis for the project, and have been decoded to give a glimpse of an unusual life in 19th century England.
Gentleman Jack also stars Sophie Rundle (Bodyguard) as Ann Walker, the wealthy heiress on whom Anne Lister sets her sights as her prospective wife; Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones) as Anne Lister’s sister, Marian; Timothy West (Last Tango in Halifax), as Jeremy Lister, the sisters’ father; and Gemma Jones (God’s Own Country) as Aunt Anne Lister.
Check out the first badass trailer below; Gentleman Jack premieres Monday, April 22nd on HBO:
Here’s the official synopsis for Gentleman Jack:
Set in the complex, changing world of 1832 Halifax, West Yorkshire — the cradle of the evolving Industrial Revolution — GENTLEMAN JACK focuses on landowner Anne Lister, who is determined to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall, by reopening the coal mines and marrying well. The charismatic, single-minded, swashbuckling Lister — who dresses head-to-toe in black and charms her way into high society — has no intention of marrying a man.
The story examines Lister’s relationships with her family, servants, tenants and industrial rivals and, most importantly, would-be wife. Based in historical fact, the real-life Anne Lister’s story was recorded in the four million words of her diaries, and the most intimate details of her life, once hidden in a secret code, have been decoded and revealed for the series.