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Suranne Jones speaks out after Gentleman Jack cancellation: ‘This show brought so many together’

Josh Milton July 9, 2022
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Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack.

Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. (BBC/HBO)

Suranne Jones has reflected on Gentleman Jack and the “extraordinary” legacy of Anne Lister after HBO announced it has cancelled the show.

Jones, who brought to life the “first modern lesbian” Lister, said that as much as the gig wasn’t exactly easy, it’s one she’ll never forget.

She wrote on Instagram on Friday (8 July): “I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on our beautiful journey making this show.

“While it is sad news Gentleman Jack will not be renewed, this show has brought so many together❤️ enabled people to share their stories, brought joy, emotion and creativity and gave me a real connection to you as its audience😍.”

Gentleman Jack, which first aired in 2019, drew on the diaries of the British landowner and industrialist Lister.

Writing in 19th century England, many of Lister’s entries were written in a code based on mathematical symbols and the Greek alphabet, which scholars did not break until the 1890s.

After producer Sally Wainwright brought Lister’s story to life, LGBTQ+ gans have lauded Gentleman Jack. Some fans told PinkNews that watching a lesbian woman so unabashedly rail against society to simply be her authentic self inspired them to come out.

And this is something Jones was more than aware of. She wrote: “I have never been involved in a show that has made such a huge impact and touched my heart like this one has.

“It wasn’t always the easiest job I’ve had… but it was always worth it to see the response it got.”

Anne Lister was known as Gentleman Jack, the title of Ross McGregor's play and of the BBC production due to air this year.
Gentleman Jack is set in the 19th century. (BBC One)

Jones, 42, said another aspect of the show’s legacy is helping Lister have the recognition she always deserved.

“There is a college named after Anne Lister on the east campus at the University of York,” she said.

“Shibden now has more visitors than ever before and you will find Anne Lister walks, tours and trails galore when visiting Halifax and its surrounding areas🎩.”

Sophie Rundle, who played Lister’s love interest and heiress Ann Walker, added: “What a privilege it has been to play Ann Walker and bring her and Anne Lister’s extraordinary love story back to life. I am so proud to have been a part of reclaiming their place in history….

“I am overwhelmed by the love this show inspired. And PROUD. So fiercely proud.”

HBO announced the network was not renewing Gentleman Hack for a third season just over a month after the second season finished airing, Deadline reported.

In a statement to Deadline, HBO said: “HBO will not be moving forward with a third season of Gentleman Jack.

“When we began this journey more than five years ago, we knew the series’ creator Sally Wainwright had a uniquely compelling vision, and it’s been tremendously gratifying to see how Anne Lister’s journey has resonated with viewers.

“We are incredibly grateful to Sally, to the impeccable Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle, and to the entire cast and crew for bringing Anne and Ann’s story to life.

“We’d also like to thank our partners at BBC and Lookout Point for their collaboration on two remarkable seasons.”

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