If You Haven’t Watched Suranne Jones in “A Touch of Cloth,” Your British Lesbian Education Is Incomplete

Last night was the first night without a new Gentleman Jack in two months, so my colleague, Laneia, and I spent some professional time professionally scouring each and every corner of Twitter and Tumblr looking for a crumb of hope that Suranne Jones had played gay at some other time in her illustrious career — and lo! We stumbled upon a British comedy from 2012 called A Touch of Cloth in which she’s a bisexual detective NAMED ANNE who, at one point, engages in much flirting/making out/murder with Anna Chancellor (a woman American lesbians seem to know best as either dominatrix Diana Lethaby in Tipping the Velvet or Amanda Bynes’ foe in What a Girl Wants). (I apologize on behalf of all of us, I truly do.)

I’m not sure how to even begin to describe A Touch of Cloth to you, but just go ahead and watch Suranne Jones’ girlfriend break up with her in the second episode and you’ll get the gist.

Also, just in case you’re wondering what kind of milk they drink on this show.

Season two’s “Undercover Cloth” introduces Anna Chancellor as Hope Goodgirl, a complete and total psycho who is running for mayor. Well, I mean, if you think it’s “insane to thirst for power, to reach out and take what’s yours even when it isn’t, to stand naked bathed in the moonlight, screaming ‘I LAUGH IN THE BLOOD OF THE FALLEN FOR I AM THE TAKER OF SOULS!!!'” To be honest, Anne’s kind of into it — before she realizes Hope wants to murder a bunch of pageant contestants on live TV like the Joker.

They have a nice dinner together at Sappho: Traditional Lesbian Cuisine.

Hope: Do you like eating out? I love eating out. I’ll take the lesbian special. Why don’t you try the clam? It comes drenched in its own juices; you’ll lap it up.
Anne: You’re upfront!
Hope: Upfront is good. Do you like it upfront, or would you prefer us to lie side-by-side and rub our fannies together like two pieces of chamois leather — in the nude? Ah! Your clam is ready, and it’s absolutely steaming!

(Serious students of lesbian cinema will note the song playing in the background of this scene is the same one playing when Bette and Tina have forbidden stir-fry sex in The L Word 506, “Lights! Camera! Action!”)

And later.

Anne: We can’t do this!

I’ve already said too much! I won’t ruin the ending! If you’re going to watch this, put down your phone; the site gags are half the fun. UK residents can stream all three seasons (these are episodes 201 and 202) of A Touch of Cloth on Sky’s website and app. US residents can watch on Amazon Prime.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 890 articles for us.


  1. I am fully supportive if you two wish to narrate your experiences rifling through Suranne Jones’s entire back catalogue.

    I really wish her character had been a lesbian in Scott and Bailey, beyond my general desire that everyone on TV is a lesbian. The whole emotionally unavailable detective thing becomes a lot more realistic when it just turns out they didn’t know they were gay. She could pair up with Dinah from No Offence.

    Also, the next time you want to know what actress has played a random gay part on British TV…just ask?

    • strongly second RACHEL BAILEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN QUEER (and i mean, gill was sort of technically alluded to be bisexual??)

      also: in further there are only 20 actors in the uk and they’ve all played gay at least once news, Anna Chancellor played Julie Graham’s love interest in series 3 of Shetland.

  2. This show is funny as hell and like Heather said you have to watch the screen because there are too many funny things to read and look at that are sight gags. Also, you get Julian Rhind-Tutt (from Green Wing fame and that’s on Netflix and also has a litany of great UK actors including Olivia Colman) and John Hannah (from Spartacus and he played Quintus Lentulus Batiatus alongside Lucy Lawless and other great actors)who are so talented as well.

  3. Also ( not with Suranne Jones sadly) see ”at home with the Braithwaites). It’s an early outing for Sally Wainwright, gloriously Britishly bonkers, and , importantly,No Lesbians Were Harmed In The Making Of This Programme. Full of lines which you just didn’t get on TV at that time, such as ”You slept with your daughter’s wife! There isn’t even a WORD for that!”

    • Ah, but bisexuals were definitely harmed! The woman who Virginia had an affair with met frazzled end in a bath…and was played by Julie Graham, coincidentally referenced by Catherine above as one of the only 20 British actors!

    • AT HOME WITH THE BRAITHWAITES!! I loved that show. It was very important to me as a teen and baby closeted me had a massive (repressed) thing for Virginia. I wanted her to be my friend and then kiss me and basically pull me out of the closet!

  4. My roommate who runs our Plex server messaged me to say he felt like he “went up a level” because he had downloaded this *before* realizing it was relevant to my interests(which, if I haven’t mentioned, he does by having autostraddle in his newsfeed so he knows when I’m about to be into a new gay lady show)

  5. For a second there I wondered if I hadn’t accidentally sampled the wrong batch of brownies before reading this review (you know, the brownies for the neighbour’s potluck instead of the brownies for the senior home’s summer picnic tomorrow LOL).

    Turns out I ate the bland brownies and, it’s still crazy !

  6. HA!! I love this show, I cant believe it took you so long to find it, silly American!! Bloody brilliant, i highly recommend several re-watches of it, there’s about 6 jokes every second so you wind up noticing something new every time. you mentioned the music choice in the background that i hadn’t noticed but i remember there being some kind of gay joke in every music cue for suranne jones’ character. its been too long since i watched it but her ringtone is Tatu at one point and it always cracked me up XD

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