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Gentleman Jack creator says HBO budget cuts led to "bewildering" cancellation

BAFTA-winning writer Sally Wainwright has said that HBO is "not as interested in period drama" following Gentleman Jack's cancellation.

Sophie Rundle and Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack
BBC
Published: Thursday, 14th July 2022 at 12:30 pm
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Gentleman Jack creator Sally Wainwright has spoken out about HBO's "bewildering" cancellation of the period drama, blaming the US channel's decision to discontinue the show on budget cuts.

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HBO, which was a co-producer of Gentleman Jack alongside the BBC, announced on Friday that it would not be moving ahead with season 3 while the BBC confirmed that it's "in discussions" with Wainwright about the show's future.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com in an exclusive interview, the creator and writer revealed she was surprised by HBO's decision.

"I mean, you never know if you're going to get recommissioned but we were kind of quietly optimistic that it would happen," she said. "When you have a show that doesn't do well, you kind of think: 'Well, fair enough,' but I think what's bewildering is that it appeared to be doing perfectly well but clearly not the same in America."

Sally Wainwright
Sally Wainwright David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

She added that the second season's broadcast slot on HBO may have contributed to its downfall. "It was going out at 10 o'clock on Monday nights there. They didn't push the second series as much. I think, over there, it's subscription only, the channel it's on."

Wainwright continued by saying that another factor in the decision was budget cuts at HBO and that the channel is "not as interested in period drama" anymore.

"I can't complain about HBO because our execs at HBO were wonderful. I think they wanted to go again but obviously they've been taken over now by Warner Discovery – the Discovery Channel I think.

"They've been told that they have to cut the budgets and I think they're not as interested in period drama. They're certainly not interested in 19th century English lesbians by the sound of things. But our execs who commissioned the show in the first place I think are as kinda gutted as we are."

Warner Brothers, which is the parent company of HBO, merged with Discovery in April of this year following a multibillion-dollar deal.

As for Gentleman Jack, Wainwright added that the BBC "certainly [is] up for going again" but will need a new streaming partner to replace HBO as it "wouldn't want to continue without it having the same production values".

Gentleman Jack seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Looking for something else to watch? Take a look at the rest of our Drama coverage or check out our TV Guide to find out what is on television this week.

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