Happy Valley, Doctor Who and Doctor Foster combine in new Suranne Jones drama!

Suranne Jones dressed in black at red carpet event
(Image credit: PA Wire/PA Images)

All star-cast announced for big new BBC1 drama - which is being co-produced by HBO - about the life of Anne Lister

The BBC has revealed that ex Time Lord Peter Davison is joining the cast of the new Suranne Jones drama, Gentleman Jack, which is being penned by Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright.

Suranne stars as the remarkable Regency landowner Anne Lister, who is sometimes known as "the first modern lesbian," and it’s been announced that Peaky Blinders actress Sophie Rundle will play Ann Walker, the wealthy heiress who Lister soon sets her sights on marrying.

DDoctor Foster future: Suranne Jones unsure if there will be a third series of BBC1 hit

Suranne Jones in Doctor Foster

It’s also been revealed that Peter Davison will play William, Ann Walker’s cousin, with Amelia Bullmore as his wife, Eliza Priestley.

Also joining the all-star cast is Timothy West, Stephanie Cole and Shaun Dooley.

Writer Sally Wainwright, who's also directing the drama, said: "I'm delighted that the story of Anne Lister has attracted such a talented, stand-out cast. We also have a wonderful crew on board and I can't wait to start filming".

The first modern lesbian

The action centres around Lister, who returned to West Yorkshire after years of exotic travel with the aim of transforming her ancestral home, Shibden Hall, back to its original glory.

The whole drama is based on historical fact, recorded in the millions of words of her diaries containing the most intimate details of Lister’s life - which were once hidden in secret code that has now been cracked.

The BBC also say that the eight-part series decodes many of the secrets in the diary for the first time. At the heart of the drama is Lister’s relationship with her would-be-wife, Ann Walker.

Doctor Foster star Suranne previously 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 once again get to 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!”

Filming will begin next month in West Yorkshire and Copenhagen.

Main pic: PA Wire/PA Images

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years on TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer on TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!