All star-cast announced for big new BBC1 drama - which is being co-produced by HBO - about the life of Anne Lister

The BBC has revealed that ex Time Lord Peter Davison is joining the cast of the new Suranne Jones drama, Gentleman Jack, which is being penned by Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright.

Suranne stars as the remarkable Regency landowner Anne Lister, who is sometimes known as “the first modern lesbian,” and it’s been announced that Peaky Blinders actress Sophie Rundle will play Ann Walker, the wealthy heiress who Lister soon sets her sights on marrying.

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Suranne Jones in Doctor Foster

It’s also been revealed that Peter Davison will play William, Ann Walker’s cousin, with Amelia Bullmore as his wife, Eliza Priestley.

Also joining the all-star cast is Timothy West, Stephanie Cole and Shaun Dooley.

Writer Sally Wainwright, who’s also directing the drama, said: “I’m delighted that the story of Anne Lister has attracted such a talented, stand-out cast. We also have a wonderful crew on board and I can’t wait to start filming”.

The first modern lesbian

The action centres around Lister, who returned to West Yorkshire after years of exotic travel with the aim of transforming her ancestral home, Shibden Hall, back to its original glory.

The whole drama is based on historical fact, recorded in the millions of words of her diaries containing the most intimate details of Lister’s life – which were once hidden in secret code that has now been cracked.

The BBC also say that the eight-part series decodes many of the secrets in the diary for the first time. At the heart of the drama is Lister’s relationship with her would-be-wife, Ann Walker.

Doctor Foster star Suranne previously 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!”

Filming will begin next month in West Yorkshire and Copenhagen.

Main pic: PA Wire/PA Images