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Gentleman Jack star: ‘People want to see themselves represented on screen’

Emma Powys Maurice August 12, 2019
Gentleman Jack

Gentleman Jack actress Sophie Rundle has spoken about the impact a lesbian relationship had on viewers (BBC)

The star of BBC’s Gentleman Jack, Sophie Rundle, has described the ‘massive response’ she’s had from viewers after portraying a lesbian relationship on TV.

The historical drama is based on the coded diaries of 17th century heiress Anne Lister, who is played by Suranne Jones. Rundle plays the character of Ann Walker, Lister’s lover.

Rundle told the Daily Star: “So many people have got in contact with me and Suranne. They say they feel represented in a way they haven’t before.

“People were saying they recognised so much in it and it’s really helped them. People want to see themselves represented on screen.”

She added: “That’s why it’s so important to have all sorts of different characters from all different areas of life. People can watch and say, ‘That’s me… that’s what I do’. That’s a really beautiful thing to be part of.”

Rundle recalled the scene in which Lister and Walker get married in a secret ceremony at the Holy Trinity Goodramgate.

She said: “We filmed the wedding at the same church where Ann and Anne got married all those years ago. It was then it really dawned on me that it’s a true story. I was thinking, ‘F*ck, these are real women.’”

She added: “The reaction we had to the series was beautiful. I was really surprised by how moved I was by the comments.

“People were saying they’d never seen a primetime period drama about two women falling in love before.

Anne Lister sitting down, holding hands with Ann Walker who is on bended knee
Gentleman Jack ended its first season with a wedding (BBC)

“The great thing is the women weren’t sideline characters and it wasn’t done to be titillating. It was a really heartfelt and beautiful story.”

Gentleman Jack had more than six million viewers. The series finale aired on July 7 and it has already been commissioned for a second series.

Rundel said: “It’s nice for the audience as it means they can stick with it. They can get to know the family and know they’ll be rewarded by watching the series because there will be more.”

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