Talking at a screening of Sally Wainwright’s BBC1 period drama last week, Penhale said the #metoo movement had led to the creation of a role in an area of drama that had previously been overlooked.
“We were all very conscious going into this that a huge part of Anne Lister’s life was her sex life,” said Penhale. “She was very sexually active, and she loved having sex with other women. In all areas of drama, you need to consider how you are going to take care of people playing this out for us.”
Penhale said working with intimacy director Ita O’Brien was “terrific” and said seeing her in action was a really interesting process.
“O’Brien worked very closely with Sally and the cast, including Suranne Jones and Sophie Rundle. We had lots of conversations that I do not think we would have had otherwise,” said Penhale.
It was Gentleman Jack creator, writer and director Wainwright who originally called for an intimacy director after hearing O’Brien on Radio 4.
“I had never directed a sex scene before and I thought it was important to do these scenes responsibly,” said Wainwright. “If female directors cannot do it responsibly, then who else can?”