Get Your First Look at Jane Austen Drama 'Sanditon'

Rose Williams in "Sanditon" (Photo: ITV Studios for Masterpiece)

Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel Sanditon is heading to the small screen, courtesy of PBS’ Masterpiece and the U.K. network ITV.

This is the first ever adaptation of Austen’s incomplete last work, which she abandoned due to poor health just before her death in 1817. Only eleven chapters exist, but Emmy and BAFTA-winning writer Andrew Davies has expanded the story to fill eight hour-long installments.

Davies is also the man responsible for the – IMO, best – beloved adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that starred Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, so at least we know Austen’s work is in good hands, even if necessity requires some of its story elements to be made up out of whole cloth.

And now we finally have our first look at the series and its cast in a series of just-released production shots from the show.

Rose Williams and Theo James in "Sanditon" (Photo: ITV Studios for Masterpiece)
Rose Williams and Theo James in "Sanditon" (Photo: ITV Studios for Masterpiece)

Reign’s Rose Williams stars as spirited young heroine Charlotte Heywood, an impulsive, joyous and optimistic girl who leaves her rural hometown of Willingden for the would-be coastal resort of Sanditon. Unfamiliar with the rules of high society, she discovers her confidence shaken, and her run-in with the prickly Sidney Parker does little to boost her self-esteem.

Will she be able to make her way in this world on her own terms, or will she find herself overwhelmed by the many intrigues in the seaside town?

Divergent’s Theo James plays Sidney Parker, a self-made man who often finds his responsibilities to his family and Sanditon tiresome. Humorous, charming and slightly wild, his personality can be somewhat volatile, and he seldom seems the same from one moment to the next. In Charlotte’s company, can Sidney rediscover his true self?

Theo James in "Sanditon" (Photo: ITV Studios for Masterpiece)
Theo James in "Sanditon" (Photo: ITV Studios for Masterpiece)

Last Tango in Halifax star Anne Reid plays Lady Denton, a character who almost instantly feels like the Dowager Countess of this series, a woman who has achieved her status through marrying well and expects to be treated with the deference she feels is her due. But there’s more to her character than meets the eye, apparently.

Ann Reid in "Sanditon" (Photo: ITV Studios for Masterpiece)
Ann Reid in "Sanditon" (Photo: ITV Studios for Masterpiece)

Former Death in Paradise star Kris Marshall is also part of the Sanditon cast, playing Parker family patriarch Tom, an enthusiastic man who firmly believes that Sanditon will one day be the ideal seaside resort. Keen to take risks, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to put the town on the proverbial map. But will his obsession become his ruin?

There’s no firm airdate for Sanditon as yet, though rumors insist that a fall ITV broadcast could be in the cards for the show, with a Masterpiece premiere in 2020. Could this be the series that covers Victoria’s timeslot until the queen returns for a fourth season? We’ll have to wait and see.

What do you think of the look of Sanditon? Sound like something you would watch? Or would it be best to leave Austen’s unfinished work alone? Let’s discuss in the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB