Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones reveals hilarious secret she kept hidden from the show's costume department

Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack.
Suranne Jones is back as dashing Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. (Image credit: (c) BBC - Gentleman Jack)

Gentleman Jack caused a sensation when it first aired in 2019 and followed the fortunes of trailblazing real-life 19th-century diarist Anne Lister, played by Vigil and Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones.

Now, Gentleman Jack season 2 is here, an eight-part series of the sizzling period drama, which airs in the UK on Sunday 10 April at 9pm on BBC One and will broadcast in the US on HBO on Monday, April 25. 

The action picks up shortly after top-hatted Yorkshire-based lesbian landowner Anne has undergone a secret ‘wedding’ with lover Ann Walker (Peaky Blinders’ Sophie Rundle) and is planning for them to set up a home together in Anne Lister’s Shibden Hall estate. But romantic and business ructions are on the cards.

Here, Suranne Jones reveals all about Gentleman Jack season 2…

Gentleman Jack is back! Where do we find Anne?

“Anne’s got her wife and she's setting up her life. It's supercharged. She's protecting her assets, fighting for what she wants and spending money. She’s an entrepreneur and so confident. But she’s not just on fire, she's dangerous, because there's so much going on that she’s on the cusp of losing control, she's so excited with her life!”

Sophie Rundle and Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack

Anne Walker (Sophie Rundle) and Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) face romantic challenges in Gentleman Jack. (Image credit: (C) BBC - Gentleman Jack)

What is her relationship like with Ann Walker now?

“They're trying to navigate what society puts on them. It’s a detailed, slow, wonderful look at a marriage. Anne questions whether it’s love. We discover that it is, but a very different kind. It's not what she thought it was.” 

Are there any hurdles they have to overcome?

“There are lots of arguments and fun. That's the beauty of it, the ups and downs. Ann’s mental health is floating around constantly and Anne has put her in the doctor’s care to build her up to come and live with her at Shibden. But Anne’s also fighting the tribe of Ann’s family including Aunt Ann Walker, brilliantly played by Stephanie Cole.” 

Lydia Leonard in Gentleman Jack

Anne's ex-lover Mariana (Lydia Leonard) is troubled in Gentleman Jack. (Image credit: (C) BBC - Gentleman Jack)

We see the return of Anne’s ex, Mariana Lawton (Lydia Leonard), while another of Anne’s former lovers, Isabella ‘Tib’ Norcliffe (Joanna Scanlan), appears. What impact do they have?

“Anne’s always had these huge big emotional relationships, she bowls hard and with Mariana it’s been draining and taxing. Lydia’s exquisite though and there is almost a two-hander episode exploring Mariana and Anne’s relationship and why they are like they are.”

Do you find you need a lot of energy to play Anne?

“Yes! If you don't pace yourself, you can get exhausted. She’s so well-informed that with every conversation, she's five steps ahead and she's waiting for everybody to keep up. I had a step counter on set and it clocked up a lot! Sometimes, if I had the greatcoat on, I’d pop it on underneath – but don’t tell the costume department!”

The first run of the show got such an amazing reaction, did that make you proud?

“It’s quite something when you go to Halifax [in Yorkshire, where the show is filmed and set] and see the top hat everywhere! And Sally Wainwright [the show's writer, whose credits include Happy Valley] and I revealed a statue [of Anne in Halifax], which was just beautiful. The fan art, the stories, the fact that it's changed people’s lives is extraordinary and that it can start a conversation for people. It’s wonderful we made something important, it’s an amazing thing to be part of. There’s no other period drama like this!”

Where can I watch the first season of Gentleman Jack?

The first season is available on BBC iPlayer and a range of other platforms.

Gentleman Jack season 2 starts in the UK on Sunday, April 10 at 9pm on BBC One and iPlayer. The US release date is set for Monday, April 25 on HBO.

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.