Gentleman Jack BBC: Suranne Jones’ dramatic makeover for new role

We're used to seeing her as a hard-nosed detective in Scott and Bailey, or the vengeful Dr Gemma on Doctor Foster, but now Suranne Jones is taking on a brand new type of role, and it's nothing like we've ever seen her do before.

The actress will soon be taking on the role of adventuress Anne Lister in a brand new BBC series, Gentleman Jack. The eight-part series will tell the tale of the feisty character of Anne in 19th century Yorkshire, as she gets involved in a relationship with another women.

And now, the first pictures of Suranne in her brand new role have emerged -and we can’t believe how different she looks!

With a formal middle parting and a traditional ruffled jacket on, the actress looks worlds away from roles we’ve seen her in previously.

In this images, fans get a sneak peek at her character Anne’s relationship with heiress Ann Walker (played by Sophie Rundle), the lady she was in a secret – and frowned-upon – relationship with.

So what is Gentleman Jack about?

Suranne’s new period drama, which was originally called Shibden Hall, is set within the prolific Regency era, when King George III’s son Prince Regent reigned as a proxy in place of his father, who was thought to be unfit for the job. At the time, Regency women flourished, in the age of upper-class society culture.

But the real-life character of Anne Lister was unlike the women of the time. Suranne will be portraying a women who didn’t care for social norms, and who often dressed like a man – as displayed in the photo preview.

It’s a character unlike Suranne has ever played before – but if we know anything about the actress, she’s sure to deliver a brilliant performance.

What’s the real story behind the character of Anne Lister?

The real story comes from an extensive set of diary entries written by Anne herself, which were actually penned in a secret code.

The plot of the series will also explore Anne’s relationship with Ann Walker in a time where sex-sex relationships weren’t accepted in society. It’ll also take a look at their “passionate courtship”, and the secretive way they got married, exchanging vows and rings during a private ceremony.

Of the drama, the BBC revealed that it “will [also] explore Anne Lister’s relationships at home with her family, her servants, her tenants, and her industrial rivals, who will use any dirty tricks they can to bring her down.

“At its heart is her relationship with her would-be wife, the wealthy heiress Ann Walker.”

And in even more exciting news, the show sees Suranne team up with former Scott & Bailey colleague, writer Sally Wainwright. Suranne Jones admitted that half of the excitement of the project for her is working with Sally again.

She 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 get to once again 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! I’m thrilled to be back at the BBC with this role and to be joining the Lookout Point and HBO family.”

Sally, who has also worked on the hugely popular Happy Valley, also said, “I am delighted to be working with Suranne once again, not just as a writer this time, but as a director. Bringing Anne Lister to life with all her complexity, passion, brilliance and wit is an epic challenge that will require all the boldness, subtlety, energy and humour that I know only Suranne will bring to it.”

The drama has begun filming, and is expected to air on the BBC at the end of the year.

But until then, what other brilliant programme have we seen Suranne in before?

Suranne Jones TV shows…

Coronation Street

Who could forget where this star of the screen really started? Suranne played the villanious Karen McDonald for four years, before leaving on Boxing Day after a spat with her on-screen husband Steve.


Another of Suranne’s big hits was the fabulous ITV drama Unforgiven, where Suranne played Ruth Slater, a woman found guilty of murdering two police officers as a teenager, who has recently been released. The series ran for three episodes.

Scott & Bailey

The hugely popular Scott & Bailey saw Suranne team up with friend Lesley Sharp, to portray the ups and downs of detectives Rachel Bailey and Janet Scott. The programme back in 2011 on ITV, and ended in 2016. The programme was massively well received, drumming up high viewing figures (8.2 million for its first episode), and winning a legion of fans.

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