Entertainment: Gentleman Jack fans flocking to Yorkshire for flash mob celebrating 'life changing' series

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People from around the world are heading to the UK for a flash mob to celebrate a TV show that "changed people's lives".

The stars and creator behind the popular BBC period drama Gentleman Jack have backed a #SaveGentlemanJack global flash mob in Yorkshire organised by Helen Hawkins © Helen Hawkins/Twitter The stars and creator behind the popular BBC period drama Gentleman Jack have backed a #SaveGentlemanJack global flash mob in Yorkshire organised by Helen Hawkins

Helen Hawkins, a 32-year-old dance teacher, has had support from the creator and stars of the historical drama television series Gentleman Jack as she organises the flash mob at Shibden Hall, Halifax, on Saturday in tribute to the BBC One and HBO co-production that was recently cancelled after two series.

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Gentleman Jack stars Suranne Jones as landowner and industrialist Anne Lister and was based on the collected diaries of Lister. These contained over four million words and were written largely in secret code, documenting a lifetime of lesbian relationships.

Among those offering their support for the flash mob are Jones and Sophie Rundle, who plays Lister's partner Ann Walker, as well as writer Sally Wainwright. Leeds superfan Ms Hawkins, who classes herself as pansexual, said: “This show has changed people’s lives, saved people's lives and has helped people find themselves as a person. To call it a TV show demeans it, it gives people a voice to people who don’t have a voice.

“The fact Anne Lister could be a lesbian and so comfortable over 200 years ago and is now so visible has helped so many people find themselves.”

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Ms Hawkins, who drives her wife “crazy” over her love for the show, was spurred to do something when HBO announced it was withdrawing financial support for the show. Using her skills as an inclusive dance teacher, Ms Hawkins decided to organise a flash mob via Instagram and her Facebook group. She said: “Upon this journey of starting this flash mob I have been in tears everyday at how much the show means to people.”

Ms Hawkins, who has been busy teaching people the moves for the flash mob which will take place at Lister’s ancestral home Shibden Hall, said there is such an appetite for the event from the show’s makers that she has the rights to use the original music for the performance. She said: “People have been busy learning the dance, coming together to support it and we now have people from Europe, America and all over UK as well as Yorkshire all coming to Halifax. Even Sally Wainwright's sister is coming because Sally will be travelling.”

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When Ms Hawkins contacted leading star Suranne Jones, who has said diarist Anne Lister ranks “top” in the list of characters she has played during her career, she responded immediately: “She sent her love, support and best of luck to us all as she is currently busy with work."

Over 11,600 people have signed an online petition asking the BBC to find a way to save Gentleman Jack. Creators of the petition on change.org wrote: “Gentleman Jack has actually changed lives; the BBC even commissioned and aired a documentary to this effect. It is a part of lesbian history, LGBTQ history, pride history."

The flash mob gets underway at 1pm on Saturday. Ms Hawkins has arranged guided tours of some of Anne Lister’s popular spots.

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