Gentleman Jack has been renewed for season 2 at the BBC and HBO. The show, which aired its first episode in the US on April 22 and May 19 in the UK, has already received the go-ahead for the next series, and fans of the new show will be delighted.
Starring Suranne Jones, Gentleman Jack is based on the life of Anne Lister, an industrialist and member of 19th Century English society. The main character was known to live openly as a gay woman, hiding in plain sight in a society that criminalized male homosexuality, but failed to even recognize that women could and did love as partners and that lesbians even existed, the term not having been in existence at such a time. The show is based upon the diaries Lister kept that detailed her thoughts, feelings and relationships as a gay woman challenging the conventions of 19th century England, flouting societal norms and expectations as a businesswoman and determined to be mistress of her own fate.
Variety reports that go-ahead has been given for a second season and, as would be expected, the stars and creator are extremely happy to be receiving the news. In the UK, the show has managed to bag the primetime Sunday evening BBC One slot at 9pm, a time that has previously been occupied by other big shows such as The Night Manager and War and Peace. The period drama will be returning with eight episodes in season 2, all based on the diaries of the main protagonist Anne Lister, as the first season was. And with a catalogue of around five million words, there is plenty of material to work with. The diaries were kept by the industrialist and are now considered vitally important in terms of recording lesbian history. The star of the show, Suranne Jones, had this to say about the news:
We always dreamed there would be more and now we get to play it all out... It’s such amazing and positive news. I love working with the brilliant and talented Sophie Rundle and can’t wait to create some more Lister and Walker moments with her too.
With the first episode only airing last Sunday in the UK, it will be welcome though not surprising news for writer Sally Wainwright and the rest of the show’s creators. The show was much anticipated and has already won over critics. And it’s no wonder, given that Wainwright is the writer that has brought the life of Anne Lister to the screen. Wainwright has become one of the most celebrated writers for TV in the UK, with such shows as Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax under her belt. She is known for her gritty style, her no-nonsense female characters and for using the north of England as a location for her storytelling, often with older women and working-class characters. Of the news that her groundbreaking series is receiving a second season, she 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.
It’s looking likely that Gentleman Jack will be yet another huge success for smash-hit writer Wainwright. With its premise, the issues that it tackles, the central character and period setting, this show may just be the one that garners success for the writer both in the UK and in the US. And in a time when there is a greater need for female creatives in the TV and movie industry it’s affirming to see a great talent such as Wainwright storming ahead when it comes to such great storytelling. Fans of the writer and of the show can now look forward to getting to know Anne Lister even better in the second season. One can only wonder what she would have made of such interest in her life, in a time that has changed so dramatically from her own.