BBC Two to air The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister

by Lisa McGarry


Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice) stars in The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister (working title), a bold and passionate drama for BBC Two, written by Jane English (Street Dance 3D, Sugar Rush).

Anne Lister, 1791-1840, was a Yorkshire landowner, industrialist, traveller and diarist.

She was a lesbian, who, despite needing to keep her orientation secret from society at large, in private defied the conventions of her times by living with her female lover.

Anne Lister kept a detailed account of her life, her loves and her emotions in a fascinating and painfully honest four million word journal.

A sizeable portion was written in code and the recent deciphering of these diaries provides an astonishing insight into the life of the woman who has been called Britain’s first modern lesbian.

Anne Lister’s remarkable diary and her truly extraordinary life form the basis of The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister.

As revealed in the BBC Two Winter/Spring 2010 launch today, the one-off 90-minute drama includes a stellar cast line-up: Anna Madeley (Crooked House, Sense And Sensibility); Susan Lynch (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Scouting Book For Boys); Christine Bottomley (Land Girls, Hope Springs); Gemma Jones (Spooks, Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince); Dean Lennox Kelly (Shameless, Robin Hood) and Tina O’Brien (Coronation Street).

Starring as Anne Lister, Maxine Peake says: “Anne Lister was a extraordinary woman who, up to recently, has only really been documented in lesbian history.

“Hopefully, with this film and documentary, she will reach a wider audience exposing them to this inspirational and formidable woman.

“I am honoured but petrified to be embarking on the role of such a pioneering lady!”

Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, adds: “This is the world of the Brontes, with an unexpected twist.

“These remarkable diaries have shown that life and love in 19th century Yorkshire was more varied and surprising than you might think from reading the great novels.”