A BBC period drama on the life of a pioneering 19th century female diarist and former York school pupil has been filmed in the city.

Actors dressed in the fashions of the early 1800s have used York’s historical locations to shoot The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister.

The subject of the drama was only 15-years-old and a pupil at the old King’s Manor School, in Heslington Road, when she embarked on a colourful same-sex love life which, at the time, would have been illegal.

She is famous among historians for the many volumes of diaries she produced, though the actor portraying her, Maxine Peake, who previously starred in the BBC’s Criminal Justice, hopes the 90 minute drama will bring Lister to wider attention.

She said: “Anne Lister was an extraordinary woman who up until recently has only really been documented in lesbian history.

“Hopefully, with this film and documentary, she will reach a wider audience exposing them to this inspirational and formidable woman.

“I am honoured, but petrified, to be embarking on the role of such a pioneering lady.”

Filming for the production, which also features Coronation Street’s Tina O’Brien and Harry Potter actress Gemma Jones, finished on Friday and saw the film crew and actors using the backdrop of York Minster to set the scene.

Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC Two, said: “This is the world of the Brontes, with an unexpected twist. “These remarkable diaries have shown that life and love in 19th century Yorkshire was more varied and surprising than you might think from reading the great novels.”

An accompanying one hour documentary presented by comedy writer Sue Perkins will tell the story of Lister and the decoding of her diaries. She kept a detailed account of her life and loves in a four million word journal – a sizeable portion of which was written in code.

The production is expected to be aired next spring.