Happy Valley screenwriter Sally Wainwright has a new drama series, jointly commissioned by the BBC and HBO.
Shibden Hall is described as a remarkable and unlikely love story, set in the complex, changing world of Halifax – the cradle of the industrial revolution – just as it’s all kicking off.
Set in West Yorkshire in 1832, Shibden Hall follows the epic story of the remarkable landowner, Anne Lister. Returning after years of exotic travel and social climbing, Anne determines to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home, Shibden Hall, in Halifax.
To do this she must re-open her coal mines and marry well. But this isn’t just another Regency romance. 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. 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.
The 8 part will explore Anne Lister’s relationships at home with her family, her servants, her tenants and her industrial rivals, who will use any dirty tricks they can to bring her down. At its heart is her relationship with her would-be wife, the wealthy heiress Ann Walker. It has all the warmth, wit, humour and complexity that audiences have come to associate with Sally Wainwright’s writing.
Creator, writer and director Sally Wainwright says: “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. 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. ”
Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning, says: “The originality and ambition of the writing in Shibden Hall is Sally Wainwright at her boldest and best. In dramatising the life and loves of Anne Lister, Sally might just have found her most complex and uncompromising female character yet and I’m so proud that they will be making their home BBC One.”
The 8×60’ series will also be directed by Sally Wainwright, produced by Lookout Point for BBC One and HBO.
It will start filming in Yorkshire next year.