Screen Australia to fund new film about Yorkshire landowner Anne Lister's time at Langton Hall after cancellation of Gentleman Jack

A new feature film about the life of Yorkshire landowner Anne Lister is in development following the cancellation of BBC series Gentleman Jack.

Georgian industrialist and same-sex marriage pioneer Lister came to global attention when actress Suranne Jones took the lead role in the joint BBC and HBO production, which ran for two series between 2019 and 2022 before it was not renewed for a third season due to HBO withdrawing funding, reportedly due to poor ratings in the US.

The period drama was filmed entirely in Yorkshire, with many scenes shot in Calderdale, where Lister lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries at her family’s ancestral home, Shibden Hall, which became one of the main filming locations.

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The new project was announced this week by Anne Choma, who was a lead adviser to the BBC for Gentleman Jack and has transcribed Lister’s diaries, which formed the basis for the script.

Langton Hall near MaltonLangton Hall near Malton
Langton Hall near Malton

Choma met with screenwriter and producer Jennifer van Gessel and Anne Lister Birthday Weekend festival organiser Pat Esgate at Langton Hall, another Yorkshire country house with close connections to Lister.

Writing on X, Choma said: “Yesterday we made the announcement that a new Anne Lister feature film, called ‘Langton’, is currently in development. Backed by Screen Australia and written by Jennifer van Gessel, this is an exciting gothic retelling of Lister’s life. Proud to be on board.”

Esgate added: “It’s amazing the detail Anne Choma can pull out at any given moment, regarding any given day in Anne Lister’s life, and Jen’s a very talented writer – I can’t wait till it hits the screen.”

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Langton Hall was one of the filming locations for the second series of Gentleman Jack, which featured Lister’s relationship with Isabella Norcliffe, whose wealthy family owned the estate. The Grade II-listed Georgian house was where Lister stayed after they met in 1810, occupying the South Wing.

Langton Hall is the setting for the new film about Anne Lister's younger yearsLangton Hall is the setting for the new film about Anne Lister's younger years
Langton Hall is the setting for the new film about Anne Lister's younger years

She was introduced to Isabella through an earlier friend and lover, Eliza Raine, whom she had met at the Manor School in York, a small boarding establishment for girls which allowed her to integrate into York society. As the Norcliffes were landed gentry and the Listers’ wealth came from trade, Anne Lister became fascinated with the family, who had inherited Langton Hall three years earlier.

Lister and Isabella were close friends and occasional lovers for much of their lives, but never entered into a life partnership and Isabella remained single. It was at Langton Hall where Lister met another lover, doctor’s daughter Mariana Lawton, at a house party in 1812, though Mariana did eventually marry a man.

Langton Hall was leased to a prep school by the descendants of the Norcliffes until its closure in 2012, after which the house became empty and increasingly dilapidated. Since 2020, it has been restored by property entrepreneur William Langton.

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Mr Langton said: “Everyone at the Hall is thrilled to be part of the new film 'Langton' and the cast and crew will have our full support. Houses like Langton Hall are designed to be shared, and there is no better way to share them than the medium of film.

"Langton Hall's connection to Anne Lister is well documented and it was fabulous to be part of the filming of Gentleman Jack. It is onwards and upwards now with the announcement of funding for the film 'Langton'. We can't wait for Langton Hall and the Norcliffes to be centre stage.”

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