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BBC, HBO build Wainwright’s Hall

HBO in the US is partnering with the BBC on a drama based on a true story being written by Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright and produced by Lookout Point.

Sally Wainwright

Shibden Hall (8×60’) has been created and written by Wainwright and is being produced by UK-based Lookout Point for BBC1 and coproduced with HBO.

Set in 1832, it tells the story of female landowner Anne Lister who, after years of exotic travel and social climbing, returns home to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home.

The story, based on historical facts, follows Lister as she attempts to support the local economy and marry, choosing a woman instead of a man. It is based on her diaries, written in a code that has now been broken.

Piers Wenger, controller of BBC drama commissioning, said: “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 BBC1.”

Shibden Hall has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, and Wenger.

The show will be directed by Wainwright, who exec produces alongside Faith Penhale for Lookout Point and Wenger for BBC1. It will start filming in Yorkshire next year.

Wainwright previously worked with Lookout Point on BBC drama To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters, which explores the life of the literary family. The BBC and HBO previously teamed up to coproduce The Casual Vacancy in 2015.

The series is Lookout Point’s first fully independent production and gives the company, which is backed by BBC Worldwide, three major BBC series – Les Miserables from Andrew Davies and Press from Mike Bartlett being the other two.

In related news, BBC1 in the UK has commissioned a second season of health series Doctor in the House.

The 4×60′ series is from All3Media-owned Studio Lambert and will see a doctor invited to live alongside two families each week who struggle with their health. He then delivers a health diagnosis as well as simple ways in which we can all live healthier lives.

It has been commissioned by Tom McDonald, BBC head of commissioning for natural history and specialist factual.

Ros Ponder is executive producer, Tom Watt-Smith is series producer for Studio Lambert and Abigail Priddle is executive producer for the BBC.

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