New Adaptation of Sanditon for ITV and Masterpiece

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This is not a drill, Gentle Readers. This looks pretty official.

PBS Masterpiece and British broadcaster ITV have teamed up to bring Jane Austen’s unfinished final novel Sanditon to television.

There was previously talk of an adaptation of Marie Dobbs’ popular completion of Sanditon, which sadly never seemed to come to fruition, so this is generally exciting news. However, keep in mind the term “unfinished,” because… 

The broadcasters have partnered on the eight-part adaptation with War and Peace and Mr Selfridge writer Andrew Davies

Which, you know, means Andrew Davies is making up the ending. That could be good or it could not be good. It remains to be seen.

Also: eight parts? Is that eight hours, or eight 30-minute sections? Please tell us that Andrew Davies is not writing an eight-hour adaptation of Sanditon.

EDIT: He is. Eight sumptuous hours. DOROTHY! Bring the Tullamore Dew, directly! Never mind dusting the crystal glass, just bring the whole bottle!

Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky relationship with the charming Sidney Parker. When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to a would-be coastal resort, it exposes Charlotte to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make. The drama takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London and exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover herself and ultimately find love.

A couple of things to unpack there.

impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood

Actually, she is anything but. Charlotte was presumably named after one Charlotte Williams, an acquaintance of whom Austen wrote in her letter to Cassandra dated October 11, 1813,

I admire the sagacity and taste of Charlotte Williams. Those large dark eyes always judge well. I will compliment her by naming a heroine after her.

And really, anyone who has read the unfinished fragment knows that Charlotte stays quietly in the background, watching the action and forming very sensible opinions of the sometimes over-the-top inhabitants of Sanditon. But of course, Manic Pixie Dream Girl Jane Austen Heroine sells better than a sensible, quiet heroine.

rotting alleys of London

Unsure

Bring on the Gritty RealismTM! You know it had to be in there somewhere!

Filming to start in spring 2019. No word yet on when it will be broadcast but we suppose some time after that; perhaps later 2019 or early 2020 seems likely.

However, AustenBlog has confirmed that this is not the proposed poster for the series.

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8 thoughts on “New Adaptation of Sanditon for ITV and Masterpiece

  1. Dang. I was hoping for that to be the poster.
    Eight hours seems like a lot. Now I’m waffling between Prudy’s and Bernadette’s reaction to Mansfield Park. Is more Jane Austen better than no Jane Austen even if it’s Andrew Davies Jane Austen? I mean, if we get Bath Marathon-type comments or questions like “Who is this? This isn’t Fanny Price!” as a result of this new ITV production, maybe it’s a win? I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem is, we have 12 chapters (or maybe 11 and part of one more) of Sanditon written by Jane Austen, and eight hours to fill. We already know the heroine has been, er, reimagined. One suspects it won’t really be Jane Austen at all, except in name only.

      Also keep in mind that for many people, this will be their only exposure to Sanditon and they will forevermore think that whatever that eight hours comprises is what Jane Austen wrote.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. vickihreyes

    I feel the same conflict. I love Sanditon and am satisfied with Marie Dobbs’ ending. (I didn’t care for Julie Shapiro’s version, however.) While Davie always attracts a new Austen audience, I cringe at some of his changes and additions. One example is the scene in Sense and Sensibility 2008 where Colonel Brandon courts Marianne as he would tame a new horse. (Davie discusses this in an interview, and I felt very indignant.) Hopefully, viewers will read the book afterward and experience the richness of Austen’s language and an understanding of her culture. Maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been thinking about this and I now think they’re turning it into Late Regency Downton Abbey. If the first “series” is successful there will be another, and another, and another… So it will basically be completely made up by someone who is not Jane Austen. I really, truly resent them putting her name on it and not coming up with their own ideas! (And hi Vicki, how have you been?)

      Like

      • vickihreyes

        That could very well happen. I feel your pain, Mags! Making money so often seems to be valued over originality. Why risk introducing new material when you can build on the foundations of another author’s successful story? I was annoyed by the recent BBC version of “Little Women,” too. Why change the intention of the author?

        Anyway, I am doing well–finishing up coursework before I embark on a dissertation. It is never too late to realize dreams!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bret Wheadon

    Davies brings his own “morality” to Jane Austen’s world, which is questionable, at best – did you catch his reference to ‘plenty of nude bathing?’ – Pretty sure that would NOT have been in Sanditon. (but then again, neither would Darcy swimming in a wet shirt – and what does everyone talk about now?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with your overall point–though I believe men did bathe in the nude. But separately from the women, who wore special dresses for bathing. But yeah, I’m expecting a lot of juvenile prurience that isn’t in Jane Austen novels–not that there wasn’t sex/sexiness but it was subtle and more grown-up in its expression.

      Like

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