BBC period drama Gentleman Jack is to return for a second series

Suranne Jones as Anne Lister
Suranne Jones as Anne Lister
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It's only one episode old - but a second season of Yorkshire-set drama Gentleman Jack has already been confirmed.

The BBC announced today that the Sally Wainwright-directed hit had been given the green light for a follow-up series of eight episodes.

Suranne Jones has won rave reviews for her portrayal of 19th-century Halifax landowner Anne Lister, an unconventional heiress who ran businesses and embarked on same-sex affairs with upper-class women.

This is how you can read Anne Lister's saucy diaries online
The Listers' real-life ancestral home, Shibden Hall, is now a museum and is one of around 20 Yorkshire locations that appear in the first series, which premiered on BBC One last Sunday.

The first episode was the most successful programme launch for the BBC so far in 2019.

Shibden Hall - Anne Lister's home that you can visit
Wainwright, who also wrote Calder Valley-set dramas Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax, said:-

"It's so exciting that so many people have had such a positive response to Suranne's exuberant performance as the brilliant, life-affirming Anne Lister and to Sophie Rundle's beautiful performance as her courageous partner, Ann Walker.

These are the 19 Yorkshire locations that appear in Gentleman Jack
"I'm utterly delighted that we've been recommissioned, because there are so many more big, bold stories to tell about Anne Lister and Ann Walker."

Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama,added:

"Gentleman Jack exudes sass and originality, and has been a huge hit with our BBC One audience. We look forward to continuing Anne Lister's journey with Sally, Suranne and the rest of the team."

Alongside Jones and Rundle, the series also stars Gemma Jones, Timothy West, Stephanie Cole, Peter Davison and Amelia Bullmore.

Gentleman Jack: The tragic fate of Anne Lister's 'wife' Ann Walker
Material for the second series' storylines won't be hard to find, as Anne was a prolific diarist who had written 26 volumes of her journal by the time of her death aged 49 in 1840.

The script is based on her musings - which were risque in content and written in a code that was not fully deciphered until the 1980s, when the diaries were published by Helena Whitbread.

The Georgian house on the Shibden estate renovated by 'doer-upper' Anne Lister that's still lived in today
Viewers of the first episode were able to spot Shibden Hall on screen as well as Sutton Park, a Georgian house near York where Lister visited her future 'wife' Ann Walker at her family home, Crow Nest. Scenes at a farm where a young boy was taken after being injured in a carriage accident were shot on the Harewood estate, near Leeds.

Fascinating facts about Anne Lister

- Anne set up her own dissecting laboratory in Paris, as she had a fascination with anatomy

- After her lover Mariana Belcombe decided to marry a man, Anne accompanied the couple on their honeymoon and seduced Mariana's sister

- To ascertain whether a woman was interested in her, she would ask them if they had read the 'sixth satire of Juvenal' - which tells of two step-sisters who had a sexual relationship

- She preferred women of her own social station, and did not wish to take advantage of servants or lower-class women

- Of the Listers' six children, only Anne and her younger sister Marian, who appears in Gentleman Jack, lived past the age of 20

- In a curious coincidence, Mariana Belcombe's father, a doctor who specialised in mental illness and ran an asylum in York, treated two of Anne's lovers - schoolfriend Eliza Raine and Ann Walker, the latter after Anne's death

- Lister was a keen mountaineer who became the first woman to ascend Monte Perdido in the Aragonese Pyrenees in Spain

- Her business interests including coal mines, stone quarries and shares in canal and railway companies

- She spent some time living in a house on Micklegate in York now occupied by estate agents Hudson Moody