TV Show Reviews
Review of "Sanditon"
airs Sundays on PBS 9-10pm
This series is based on an unfinished Jane Austen novel. From what I can
tell, the series basically follows the original story, but then writer Andrew
Davies ("House of Cards," "Middlemarch," et al.) finished writing the rest of
the show, based on the characters.
The series is seen from the point of
view of a young woman, Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), who's visiting the
Parker family in the small seaside town of Sanditon. Tom Parker (Kris Marshall)
is building a seaside resort there, which intrigues Charlotte. He gets financial
backing from an elderly rich lady, Mrs. Denham (Anne Reid). Mrs. Denham has poor
relations around, who hope that she'll leave them her fortune. Charlotte is
attracted to Mr. Parker's handsome brother, Sidney (Theo James), although at
first he seems very rude and insulting. Sidney has a young black woman, Miss
Lambe (Crystal Clarke), as his ward (an heiress from the West Indies), and he
doesn't get along with her, but Charlotte and Miss Lambe hit it off very well.
Tom Parker is a man driven to create and maintain Sanditon as a successful
summer resort. He faces a lot of financial pressures as he tries to Miss Denham
and other to continue funding the project. There are many workers building it
for him, but he can't afford to bring in more workers, which is dangerous and
can cause accidents. A young man who works for him (Leo Suter), also very
handsome, seems attracted to Charlotte as well. There are quite a few other
characters as well.
The views of the sea are also very beautiful.
I'm really enjoying this PBS series so far. I
love most English period dramas, and this one has
great roots in literature. It'll be interesting to
see where the writing takes us, and what kind of
ending Mr. Davies has devised. I hope he does Jane
Jane Austen’s Final Unfinished Work—Finished! Sanditon
Scripted by Emmy® Award Winner Andrew Davies Premiering on
MASTERPIECE on PBS January 12, 2020
Jane Austen was chronically ill with a mysterious disease in
early 1817, when she turned her thoughts to a happier
subject. She started work on a witty and delightful novel
set in a seaside town. She never finished it. Now, noted
screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Les
Misérables, Primetime Emmy® winner for Little Dorrit) picks
up Austen’s plot and takes it in a glorious and satisfying
direction, on Sanditon. Produced by Red Planet Pictures, the
eight-hour series will premiere on MASTERPIECE on PBS on
Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 9pm ET.
MASTERPIECE’s bold and lavish adaptation of Jane Austen’s
final work stars Rose Williams (Curfew) as Austen’s lively
but levelheaded heroine, Charlotte Heywood; Theo James
(Divergent) as the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!)
Sidney Parker; Anne Reid (Years and Years) as the forthright
grande dame of Sanditon, Lady Denham; Kris Marshall (Love
Actually) as Sanditon’s compulsively enterprising promoter,
Tom Parker; and Crystal Clarke (Ordeal by Innocence) as the
mysterious West Indian heiress, Miss Lambe.
Also appearing are Kate Ashfield (Secrets and Lies) as Tom’s
stalwart spouse, Mary; Jack Fox (Riviera) as the fortune
hunter Sir Edward Denham; Charlotte Spencer (Watership Down)
as Sir Edward’s scheming sister, Esther; and Lily Sacofsky
(Bancroft) as the enigmatic and elegant Clara Brereton.
With four acclaimed Austen adaptations to his credit (Pride
and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey and
Emma), plus the Pride and Prejudice modernization Bridget
Jones’s Diary, Andrew Davies is no stranger to Jane Austen’s
story strategies— which makes him the perfect candidate to
channel the creative spirit of one of the world’s most
amusing and penetrating novelists.
The storyline, as Austen left it in 11 beautifully crafted
chapters, is as follows: Tom Parker (Marshall) is obsessed
with turning the sleepy seaside village of Sanditon into a
fashionable health resort, and he enlists the backing of
local bigwig Lady Denham (Reid). Through a mishap, Tom makes
the acquaintance of the Heywoods and invites their eldest
daughter, Charlotte (Williams), for an extended stay at
There, the sensible Charlotte observes hypochondria, avarice
and attempted seduction run amok. Lady Denham, a widow, is
playing matchmaker for her destitute nephew, Sir Edward
(Fox), who is determined to seduce Lady Denham’s ward, Clara
(Sacofsky). The arrival of wealthy, mixed-race heiress Miss
Lambe (Clarke), under the protection of Tom’s upright
brother Sidney (James), adds an interesting complication.
Eligible men naturally find Miss Lambe fascinating, while
Charlotte is intrigued by Sidney…
With many promising loose ends and romantic possibilities,
how will the young people pair off? Who will Lady Denham
designate as her heir? Will Tom’s tourist spa finally catch
on with the public? Where will that lead? Andrew Davies
imaginatively enters this world of Georgian-era suitors,
hustlers, and health cranks and boldly tells us what happens
Remarkably, even as Jane Austen was succumbing to the
ravages of her fatal illness, she chose to lampoon the
contemporary fad for tonics, sea water cures, and other
medical remedies. Undiagnosed at the time, her malady was
probably Addison’s disease, which today is easily treatable.
She might have had many years of writing ahead of her, but
Jane Austen died at age 41, on July 18, 1817.
Sanditon is a Red Planet Pictures production commissioned
for ITV by Polly Hill and MASTERPIECE by Rebecca Eaton.
Based on the unfinished novel by Jane Austen, it is written
and executive produced by Andrew Davies with Belinda
Campbell as Executive Producer for Red Planet Pictures and
Rebecca Eaton as Executive Producer for MASTERPIECE. Series
producer is Georgina Lowe and it is directed by Olly
Blackburn, Lisa Clarke and Charles Sturridge. BBC Studios is
distributing the series internationally.
Winner of 83 Primetime Emmys® and 16 Peabody Awards,
MASTERPIECE has been essential Sunday night viewing for
millions of fans since 1971. Rebecca Eaton is the executive
producer of the series. Funding for MASTERPIECE is provided
by Viking and Raymond James with additional support from
public television viewers and contributors to The
MASTERPIECE Trust. Presented on PBS by WGBH Boston,
MASTERPIECE is known for recent hits such as Sherlock,
Downton Abbey and Victoria, and beloved classics such as
Upstairs Downstairs, Prime Suspect, The Forsyte Saga and
About Red Planet Pictures:
Red Planet Pictures has produced some of the UK’s most
popular drama content of recent years, including eight
series of the BBC One ratings hit Death in Paradise, with
episode one of the latest series pulling in a consolidated
audience of 8.2 million, and a slot winning share of 32%.
The dynamic indie has also produced the ambitious and
critically acclaimed 20-part drama Dickensian, a studio
drama that brought together iconic characters from Charles
Dickens’ most famous works, for the BBC. Red Planet Pictures
productions also include big budget adventure drama series
Hooten & The Lady for Sky One, the critically acclaimed WWI
drama The Passing Bells and the retelling of Noah’s Ark, The
Ark, both for BBC One. Babs, a 90-minute drama written by
Tony Jordan, was produced by BBC Studios in association with
Red Planet Pictures.
Red Planet Pictures was founded by award-winning writer Tony
Jordan in 2005, and in 2007 the company launched the Red
Planet Prize, a writing competition designed to find and
establish Britain’s next generation of showrunners and
writing talent. The creative initiative has uncovered and
developed a number of aspiring writers including previous
finalist Robert Thorogood, who created the BBC One smash-hit
series Death in Paradise.
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