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Gentleman Jack series two review – one of the greatest British period dramas of our time

Suranne Jones is an alchemical force of nature in the gleeful, radical return of this rollicking, romantic and exquisitely scripted show Halifax, 1834. Four weeks after a secret wedding in a York church, where two women took communion and exchanged rings, witnessed by no one but their proud, brave, corseted selves. And 180 years before the first lawful same-sex marriages will take place in the UK. Just think of it. Actually, there’s no time, because here she is, the trailblazer herself, billowing coat-tails lustrous as a raven’s plumage, top hat silhouetted against the rolling hills of West Yorkshire. Striding – for Anne Lister, as all those who fail to keep up with her know, has no other walking mode – to tell her secret wife’s vile aunt what’s what. “Ah, there you are,” she says, turning to the camera and jabbing the air with her silver-topped cane. “Good.” Happy Sunday primetime period drama slot, folks! Gentleman Jack is back. For paramours of Sally Wainwright’s rollicking, romantic and exquisitely scripted historical drama, it’s been a long three-year wait. The first series was so brilliant it spawned the “Gentleman Jack effect”: a festival in Halifax, a statue (of a swaggering 19th-century Yorkshire lesbian!) and legions of global superfans. Not just of the show but of the garrulous diarist, industrialist and landowner herself, Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, who scribbled more than 5m words in her pioneering lifetime. All of which Wainwright seems to have gobbled up, infused with 21st-century irony and northern grit, and turned into one of the greatest British period dramas of our time. Gentleman Jack season two is on BBC One in the UK; in the US, on HBO from 25 April; and in Australia, on Foxtel from 26 April. Continue reading...

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