Known for such hits as Scott & Bailey, Last Tango in Halifax, and Happy Valley, in 2016, Sally Wainwright was awarded the Wellcome Trust's £30,000 screenwriting fellowship grant to develop new programming in partnership with Film4 and the British Film Institute. The story she chose to start researching was that of landowner, industrialist, and intellectual Anne Lister, whose collected coded diaries constitute one of the most complete documents of what LGBTQ+ life was like in the Regency Period. The resulting series, eventually titled Gentleman Jack, was picked up by the BBC and HBO as a co-production in 2017 and premiered in the spring of 2019.
The BBC announced it had picked up the series for a second season not long after its debut in the U.K. in May 2019. (It premiered first in the U.S. in April.) But, like most series that began filming in the later months of that year, the series ran right into the buzzsaw of the Hollywood shutdowns and the U.K. lockdowns. Production picked up again in October 2020, but unfortunately, shut down again. Filming picked up after the U.K. government lifted Lockdown 3 in June 2021 and finished in October. Since then, fans have heard that the new season will return to the small screen in spring 2022, but that's it.
It took until the beginning of February 2022 before HBO and the BBC finally released a first look at the series second season. Among the first look photos is the image most have been waiting for, of Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey) as Anne Lister, the titular "Gentleman Jack" and Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders) as Anne Lister's new wife. Ann Walker. The new series will pick up with the two women moving in together, determined to combine their estates; a process not precisely forbidden by law but will raise eyebrows.
Anne Lister's entrepreneurial spirit frightens the locals as much as her unconventional love life, and, with her Halifax hometown on the brink of revolution, her refusal to keep a low profile becomes provocative and dangerous.
Jones and Rundle will once again be joined by co-stars Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones), Gemma Jones (Sense & Sensibility), Timothy West (Last Tango in Halifax), and Lydia Leonard (Flesh and Blood) as the closest family members of the couple. The series will also see the return of Katherine Kelly (Happy Valley), Amelia Bullmore (Ashes to Ashes), Jodhi May (The Witcher), Derek Riddell (The Missing), Stephanie Cole (Doc Martin), Peter Davison (Doctor Who), Vincent Franklin (Bodyguard), Shaun Dooley (Grantchester), Rosie Cavaliero (Unforgotten), Joe Armstrong (The Hollow Crown), Anthony Flanagan (Around the World in 80 Days), and George Costigan (Line of Duty).
Joanna Scanlan (The Larkins) will join the cast for Season 2 as Isabella' Tib' Norcliffe, Lister's former lover. Like Season 1, the events of Season 2 will all be drawn from Anne Lister's diaries.
Gentleman Jack Season 2 does not yet have a release date, but fans can probably anticipate an arrival on HBO and HBO Max around April or May 2022, premiering on the BBC to follow. Season 1 is streaming on HBO Max.