Susan Calman says visiting home of Anne Lister was ‘quite an emotional moment’

The Scottish comedian travelled around the country in a camper van for her new show.
The Scottish comedian travelled around the country in a camper van for her new show.

Susan Calman has said visiting the home of Anne Lister during filming for her new series of Grand Day Out was an “emotional” moment.

Lister was a 19th century landowner often regarded as the “first modern lesbian” and the topic of the popular BBC series Gentleman Jack starring Suranne Jones.

The series was created by Sally Wainwright and based on Lister’s diaries, which were part-written in a cryptic code.

Scottish comedian Calman, 47, said: “In Yorkshire we went to Shibden Hall, where Anne Lister lived, and that was quite an emotional moment for me.

“That was a really important place to go to hear about her story.

“So that was one of those moments where you go, ‘I’m getting to see places and talk to people and do wonderful things’.”

The series sees Calman, who has been married to her wife Lee Cormack since 2016, travelling to historic and culturally important locations in a camper van named Helen Mirren.

Explaining why she named her vehicle after the Hollywood star, Calman said: “Well, I mean originally they said to me, ‘Do you want to name the van?’

“And I named her Helen Mirren because I love Helen Mirren and I thought, ‘If I wanted a travelling companion, it would be Helen Mirren’. That’s who I would like to travel the world with.

“I think it’s the fact that I drive the van and I have conversations with her. Helen and I are travelling together around the country.

“I love the bits in the van where I’m on my own just with a little GoPro and we’re chatting.”

Calman competed on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017 and was partnered with professional dancer Kevin Clifton.

She said the show had made her “challenge myself a lot more”.

She added: “I watched Strictly on Saturday night, I remember what it was like standing there before you did your paso doble or your quick step going, ‘Right, come on. You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do it’.

“I think it’s made me challenge myself a lot more, because if you’ve done a samba dressed as Wonder Woman to 12 million people, you can do anything, can’t you?”

Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out returns to Channel 5 on Friday October 21.