HBO, BBC Team on Drama 'Shibden Hall' From 'Happy Valley' Writer
The eight-part series will tell the story of lesbian English landowner Anne Lister and how she set out to marry a wealthy heiress during the Industrial Revolution.
HBO and BBC One are teaming on Shibden Hall, a new eight-part drama series created and written by BAFTA winner Sally Wainwright (Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley).
The series is a Lookout Point production for the BBC and co-produced with HBO.
Set in West Yorkshire in 1832, Shibden Hall is the story of landowner Anne Lister. Returning after years of exotic travel and social climbing, she determines to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall, in Halifax, England, the cradle of the Industrial Revolution.
To do this, she must reopen her coal mines and marry well. "Charismatic, single-minded, swashbuckling Anne Lister — who walked like a man, dressed head-to-foot in black, and charmed her way into high society — has no intention of marrying a man," according to a show description. "True to her own nature, she plans to marry a woman. And not just any woman: The woman Anne Lister marries must be seriously wealthy. Every part of Anne’s story is based in historical fact, recorded in the four million words of her diaries that contain the most intimate details of her life, once hidden in a secret code that is now broken."
Creator, writer and director Wainwright said in a statement: “Anne Lister is a gift to a dramatist. She is one of the most exuberant, thrilling and brilliant women in British history, and I can’t wait to celebrate her. Landowner, industrialist, traveler, mountaineer, scholar, would-be brain surgeon and prolific diarist, Anne returns from years of travel to her ancestral home, determined to restore it to its former glory, and determined to marry Ann Walker. It’s a beautifully rich, complicated, surprising love story."
She added: "To bring Anne Lister to life on screen is the fulfillment of an ambition I’ve had for 20 years. Shibden Hall is a place I have known and loved since I was a child."
Said Piers Wenger, controller, BBC Drama Commissioning: "The originality and ambition of the writing in Shibden Hall is Sally Wainwright at her boldest and best. In dramatizing the life and loves of Anne Lister, Sally might just have found her most complex and uncompromising female character yet.”
Added Casey Bloys, president, HBO programming: "We are thrilled to partner with the extraordinarily talented Sally Wainwright on this epic story and delve into the exceptionally unique life of Anne Lister. We are also pleased to continue our long and successful relationship with the BBC and look forward to our partnership with Faith Penhale and the team at Lookout Point.”
Shibden Hall has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, and Wenger. Executive producers include Wainwright, Penhale for Lookout Point and Wenger for BBC One. The series is set to start filming next year in Yorkshire.