Queer Period Drama: Gentleman Jack

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Whilst many of us are glued to Netflix, there is so much going on outside of it. Gentleman Jack paints a very real picture of what it meant to be gay in the 1800s, as well as what it meant to be a woman. 

A dramatisation of the life of LGBTQ+ trailblazer, voracious learner and cryptic diarist Anne Lister, who returns to Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1832, determined to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home Shibden Hall. IMDB rates it at 7.9/10 and Rotten Tomatoes critics gives it an 87%. And Gay Pages also marks it as highly recommended, especially for those queens that can’t refuse a great period drama! It is available to watch on Showmax.

Gentleman Jack is an eight-episode drama series from BAFTA-winning writer Sally Wainwright (To Walk Invisible, Happy Valley).

The true-story and coded journals of Anne Lister (played by Suranne Jones), follows her attempt to revitalise her inherited home and also her struggles with love in an overly judgmental and bible bashing time period. A part of Lister’s plan is to help the fate of her own family by taking a wife, for her fortune yes, but also because as women who love women, to find some happiness in the world. The casting and acting hits the mark just right, and coming to some understanding of what it must have been like to live in such a difficult time is eye-opening!

The prospective wife, Ann Walker, is played by Peaky Blinders’ Sophie Rundle; Gemma Whelan, known for her role as Yara on Game of Thrones, has been cast as Lister’s sister, Marian. Timothy West (Last Tango in Halifax, Bleak House) will portray their father, Jeremy Lister, and Gemma Jones (God’s Own Country, Bridget Jones’s Diary) their aunt, Anne.

 

The ensemble also includes Sofie Gråbøl (The Killing) as Queen Marie of Denmark; Katherine Kelly (Happy Valley) as Ann Walker’s sister Elizabeth Sutherland; Stephanie Cole (Waiting for GodStill Open All Hours) as Ann Walker’s aunt; Peter Davison (Liar, Doctor Who) as Walker’s cousin, William Priestley; Amelia Bullmore (Happy Valley, Scott & Bailey) as William’s wife, Eliza; Vincent Franklin (Cucumber, Happy Valley) as Christopher Rawson, a businessman and fierce rival to Anne Lister, Shaun Dooley (Gunpowder, Broadchurch) as Jeremiah, Christopher’s brother and business partner; along with newcomers Albane Courtois and Ben Hunter as Eugénie Pierre and Joseph Booth.

Gentleman Jack will air on BBC One and HBO, and is directed by Sally Wainwright, Sarah Harding (VikingsQueer as Folk) and Jennifer Perrott; produced by Lookout Point for HBO and BBC One; executive producers, Sally Wainwright, Faith Penhale and Laura Lankester for Lookout Point and Ben Irving for BBC One; producer, Phil Collinson.

 

For our latest movie reviews as well as articles on queer film, subscribe to our digital or print magazine, Winter 2019, ed. 91.

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