Behind her back she's Gentleman Jack / A Yorkshire lady of reknown…
BBC One and HBO's groundbreaking Gentleman Jack saw Suranne Jones take on the role of real-life lesbian pioneer Anne Lister, who pushed the limits of acceptable conduct in Georgian Yorkshire, refused the role assigned to her by society and lived, as we'd say now, her truth.
In Sally Wainwright's adaptation of her coded diary, Anne is a brilliant, strong-willed polymath who beats the men at their own games again and again, her only weakness the romantic disappointments forced on her by the era's attitude to sexual matters. It's an air-punching, fourth-wall-breaking triumph, a Georgian Fleabag, and it's not over: Jack's coming back.
The BBC confirmed season two back in May after the first debuted to 5.1m viewers in the UK. "I’m so thrilled that I will be joining Sally Wainwright on the second part of Anne’s journey," Suranne Jones said at the time. "We always dreamed there would be more and now we get to play it all out."
With a whole life to mine – not that Wainwright is obliged to stick to the facts, of course – what will we see?
Gentleman Jack season 2 release date: when can we see it?
No air date has been announced yet, but if BBC One wants to follow the pattern it set with the first, then it looked like the second series would most likely arrive in the summer. Unfortunately, that didn't come to pass because of wider delays impacting the industry in 2020.
During a chat with Gemma Whelan earlier this year, Digital Spy asked how All This Nasty Business has affected filming for season two. Unfortunately, the news wasn't very promising:
"I do know that we were meant to start filming in June, and of course because of the current situation, that has currently been pushed to September and we all hope that may happen," Gemma added.
"But we've all just got to be flexible and open and wait until the right time when everyone's safe and it's okay to get on with things."
Production company Lookout Point also released a statement confirming that the show was postponed: "Reluctantly we have decided to delay the start of production of Gentleman Jack series two due to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency. Huge thanks to our cast and crew, and to our incredible, inspiring fans for their understanding. Sending everyone a bit of Anne Lister strength and energy at this difficult time."
Gentleman Jack season 2 cast: who's in it?
It wouldn't be Gentleman Jack without Suranne Jones' magnetic, charismatic performance as Anne, so that's a given. Likewise Sophie Rundle will be back as Anne's wife Ann (yep, Ann – sometimes history makes dramatisation awkward).
We'd also be hugely disappointed not to see Game of Thrones' Gemma Whelan back as Anne's put-upon (frankly, basic) sister Marian, Timothy West as her father Captain Lister, Gemma Jones as her aunt Anne (yes, another Anne), Peter Davison and Amelia Bullmore (William and Eliza Priestley), Rosie Cavaliero (Elizabeth Cordingley), Joe Armstrong (Samuel Washington) and Tom Lewis (Thomas Sowden).
The elder Listers, the Captain and Aunt Anne, both died in 1836, so they may not see out season two, but don't write them off: "I haven’t made too many choices yet, but I don’t really want to lose [Aunt Anne]" Wainwright told Radiotimes.com. "The dynamic around the dining table – I think that seems to work very well. There’s a nice family comedy in there with those different generations… I don’t lose characters unless I have to."
And, of course, the show isn't a documentary: "Just because they die in real life it doesn’t mean I have to bump them off in the drama."
The Sowden family, for instance – who serve as a working-class counterpoint to Anne's ambition and constraints – were based on real tenants of Shibden Hall, but far from feeding his father to the pigs, Samuel Sowden's son actually went on to attend Cambridge university.
Gentleman Jack season 2 plot: what's it going to be about?
"I'm utterly delighted that we've been recommissioned," said Wainwright in a BBC statement, "because there are so many more big, bold stories to tell about Anne Lister and Ann Walker."
We left them literally at the very start of their lives as a married couple, as they walk out of church having taken Communion together, a symbol to them of their unconventional (and legally impossible) marriage.
So married life would seem the obvious theme for series two.
"They move into Shibden [Hall] together in series two," Sally Wainwright told Digital Spy, "and it's about how they negotiate their married life, conspicuously in public, and how they deal with their detractors and the effect that has on their relationship as well… Obviously we've got season two, which is fantastic, and I hope it will continue on after that. There's no end of stories."
To RT, Wainwright added: "Even though Anne Lister seems like this absolute powerhouse with this iron will, Ann Walker had a real streak of stubbornness – and of course she had all the money. So there was a real interesting dynamic and a real interesting power dynamic between them, which I’m really looking forward to exploring a bit more fully."
In real life, the couple travelled extensively, so we could see more location shooting next time around. There's also the unresolved issue of the coalmine to address – will Anne finally get the better of the Rawson brothers, and will Vincent Franklin's repellant Christopher Rawson get his comeuppance?
Not to mention that significant look that came over Sam Washington when he learned that Tom's uncle couldn't write – and therefore couldn't have written to tell the other Sowdens that his (totally murdered and fed to pigs) brother had "gone to America".
Star Gemma Whelan also shared an update earlier this year during an interview with Digital Spy. While she understandably couldn't reveal too much about season two, Whelan did give us a tidbit which should hopefully tide us over until new episodes finally air:
"I've had the first four scripts – I've had them for a long time, since Christmas, actually," Gemma told us. "And there's some more fantastic stuff for Marian and Anne (Suranne Jones) and the family to get up to."
Gentleman Jack season 2 trailer: when can I see it?
Too early for a trailer yet, but you'll likely see one round about winter 2020/21. For now, enjoy the trailer to the first series above.
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