Another day, another Jane Austen adaptation. Thankfully, the first images of ITV’s forthcoming Sanditon have all the classic period drama elements that made us fall for the channel’s record-breaking Downton Abbey.
There’s Rose Williams as the spirited young heroine Charlotte Heywood, staring out at the ocean like a member of the Monterey 5; Theo James as her mysterious love interest Sidney Parker (in a brocade waistcoast, of course); and Anne Reid as the formidable, ageing heiress Lady Denham, who calls to mind Maggie Smith’s Lady Violet. Yet another reason to get excited: Emmy and BAFTA-winning writer Andrew Davies (War & Peace, Les Misérables, Pride and Prejudice) has written the script.
This is the first-ever major television adaptation of Austen’s last – and incomplete – novel, which she was forced to abandon due to poor health months before her death in 1817. While the Sense and Sensibility author only wrote 11 chapters of the novel, the script has been fleshed out to eight hour-long instalments.
Filmed in and around Bristol, the series follows Charlotte, one of Austen’s most spirited heroines, as she leaves her father’s rural estate in Sussex for the fictional coastal town of Sanditon – populated by a range of eccentric (and occasionally shadowy) characters who, according to Davies, go in for a “bit of nude bathing”. This is no village drama, however, with the story ranging from the cramped and dirty streets of Georgian London to the lush tropical islands of the West Indies. Consider your Sunday nights filled until further notice when it premieres in 2020.