Gentleman Jack Changed My Life will explore the power and popularity of Suranne Jones’ Anne Lister

BBC One’s Gentleman Jack Changed My Life will explore the impact of the Suranne Jones-led period drama on the lesbian community.

There’s no doubt that Suranne Jones is a supremely talented actor. From Doctor Foster to Vigil, Jones has won critical acclaim for her portrayal of complex and charismatic characters. But one role in particular has had a powerful impact: that of Anne Lister in BBC’s Gentleman Jack.

The period drama tells the true story of lesbian landowner Anne Lister in 1830s Yorkshire, as she navigates love and a refusal to keep a low profile which becomes provocative and dangerous.

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The upcoming second season, like the first, will usethe real-life diaries of Lister – part of which were written in code – as its source, with every part of Lister’s story based on historical facts and the five million words she wrote in her journals.

Jones’ spirited and sensitive portrayal of Lister struck a chord with many viewers, but particularly the LGBTQ+ community.

The impact is so great that the BBC have now announced Gentleman Jack Changed My Life, a heart-warming documentary that follows British women of all ages who’ve taken inspiration from Anne Lister, the 19th century, real-life lesbian at the centre of the drama, with dramatic results.

Narrated by Miriam Margolyes, the film will explore how the show and Anne’s courage to love a woman, and live openly with her, is inspiring women all over the world to embark on their own journeys of self-discovery, coming out to themselves, to their children, their parents and grandparents.

It is also set to include insights from the drama’s stars, Jones and Sophie Rundle (who plays her partner, Ann Walker), and the show’s writer Sally Wainwright.

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The power of Lister’s story is something Jones herself recognised while accepting her Actor Of The Year award at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards in March.

After completing filming on the second season of Gentleman Jack, however, Jones came to a powerful realisation about how the representation of a lesbian woman on the small screen had manifested in the lives of viewers.

“It’s wonderful to portray Anne Lister, who was a remarkable woman,” she acknowledged on stage.

“At the launch [of season two] the other day, hearing women come up to me and say that they feel represented and that Gentleman Jack changed their lives and it started conversations within their family and they were able to come out and they were able to talk about gender.”

Gentleman Jack Changed My Life will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, though a date has not yet been confirmed.

Images: BBC One/David M. Benett/Getty

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