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Historian's input into BBC drama

Friday June 14 2019




A LOCAL historian lent a hand in the making of flagship BBC One drama series Gentleman Jack.

Over the last two years, historian and novelist Brian Elliot has assisted in the interpretation of the coal mining entries written in the diary of Anne Lister, a woman from Halifax who kept diaries that chronicled the details of her daily life.

She inherited the Lister estate Shibden Hall in 1832, and was expected to transform the fate of her ancestral home by reopening her coal mines and to ‘marry well’, but Anne had no intention of marrying a man and her diary gives detailed insight into her lesbian relationships.

Gentleman Jack, written by Sally Wainwright, is a six part series detailing these aspects of her life and Brian was asked to interpret the coal mining entries of her diary.

He said: “London TV production company Lookout Point contacted the National Coal Mining Museum as they wanted to understand in depth Anne’s experience of running a coal mine. The museum put the company in touch with me and I was asked to be a consultant.

“The process has been somewhat illuminating. Anne was a very shrewd and formidable lady and it’s been very interesting to read.

“There were a lot of archaic and technical terms and she refers to landmarks, lanes and fields in her diary so I did have to get a local map of the area to better understand where Anne was referring to.

“Sally has put this together perfectly and I’ve been watching the series. She’s done an amazing job and she has definitely represented Anne well. It’s been a long journey and it’s definitely paid off because the series is fantastic.”

Young actress Emma Wrightson, 13, of Silkstone Common, also stars in the series.

It continues on BBC on Sunday at 9pm with previous episodes available to catch up on BBC iPlayer.