Gentleman Jack
"I was just passing"

Gentleman Jack

A BBC and HBO co-production, GJ was broadcast by the BBC in 2019. There may be differences in the scenes actally broadcast by the BBC and HBO.[1] I've only seen the BBC version.

I think Gentleman Jack is fabulous, but what I think doesn't matter. "Inspired by the diaries of Anne Lister", GJ is not a documentary, it doesn't claim to follow the diaries exactly. Sally Wainwright has blended real events with other quotes & happenings, along with fictional scenes that are often based on real people: there was no Thomas Sowden, he didn't feed his father to pigs - but the Sowdens did exist and they were Anne's tenants. Nearly everyone - the Walkers, the Rawsons, the Priestleys, Cordingley, John Booth and even Mr Pickels - actually existed in Anne's world. I think it's beautifully done.

The point of my episode-by-episode review is to add a little background to the drama, perhaps identifying some historical nuggets that the viewer may not have been aware of. And maybe - only in fun, you understand - find a little mistake or two?

In the reviews I refer to "GJ Day 1", etc. - these are the days as listed in the Gentleman Jack shooting scripts. GJ time runs a lot faster than real time, and disparate events are sometimes out of sequence or placed on the same day, but overall GJ is very true to the diaries. And the more you read the diaries, the more you realise how well Sally Wainwright knows her subject. Excellent.

All the diary quotes have been (re)transcribed by me, and I am greatly indebted to Jill Liddington and Anne Choma for their books on the GJ period - without them it would have been very much harder to locate the relevant diary entries.

The shooting scripts are available at

Episode 1 >

[1] There are Youtube videos of "unseen footage" - all of which was broadcast by the BBC.
Page updated 15-Oct-2020
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