Gentleman Jack has become the BBC’s biggest new drama launch of the year and the British broadcaster most successful new scripted series since Jenna Coleman-fronted psychological thriller The Cry.
The HBO co-production, which stars Suranne Jones, scored an average of 5.1M viewers with a peak of 5.6M on Sunday night in a 9pm slot. It secured an average share of 27.2% across the hour.
This comes after Coleman’s Australian-set drama averaged 5.7M viewers last year with a peak of 6.3M, compared with Bodyguard’s opening audience of 6.7M last year.
Gentleman Jack launched on April 22 in HBO’s new Monday night slot. It is created, written and co-directed by Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright. The drama, which is produced by War and Peace producer Lookout Point, tells the story of a woman who had a passion for life and a mind for business, and bucked society’s expectations at every turn. The Killing‘s Sofie Gråbøl and Happy Valley‘s Katherine Kelly also star.
Jones plays Regency landowner Lister in the period drama, which is set in 1832 Halifax, West Yorkshire. Gentleman Jack focuses on the landowner, who is determined to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall, by reopening the coal mines and marrying well. The story examines Anne’s relationships at home with her family, servants, tenants and industrial rivals and, most importantly, would-be wife. Based in historical fact, the real-life Anne Lister’s story was recorded in her diaries, and the most intimate details of her life, once hidden in a secret code, are now decoded and revealed for the series.
Elsewhere, Bodyguard’s Sophie Rundle plays Ann Walker, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’s Derek Riddell plays Elizabeth’s husband Captain Sutherland and Hurt By Paradise’s Veronica Clifford stars as mother-in-law Mrs Sutherland. Sylvia Syms (Rev) stars as the Elderly Mrs Rawson, Brendan Patricks (Downton Abbey) is clergyman Thomas Ainsworth, Caspar Phillipson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout) is Mr De Hagemann, Polly Maberly (Shakespeare & Hathaway) is Lady De Hagemann, Lucy Black (Jericho) is Mary Sowden, Stephanie Hyam (Bodyguard) is Sophie Ferrall, Dino Fetscher (Humans) is Thomas Beech, Rupert Vansittart (Game of Thrones) is Charles Lawton and Michael Xavier (Into The Woods) is Dr. Steph Belcombe.
They join Gemma Whelan, Timothy West, Gemma Jones, Stephanie Cole, Peter Davison, Amelia Bullmore, Vincent Franklin, Shaun Dooley, Joe Armstrong and Rosie Cavaliero.
The series is directed by Wainwright, Sarah Harding and Jennifer Perrott. Executive Producers are Wainwright, Faith Penhale and Laura Lankester for Lookout Point, and Ben Irving for BBC One. The producer is Phil Collinson.
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