It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Sunday evening must be in want of a period drama

Finally, an ending for Sanditon 

Finally, an ending for Sanditon 

Sanditon, rescued by its ardent American fans, is returning for a final season on 19 March 2023 on PBS at 9/8c. Unfortunately for British viewers, ITV have blotted their copybook once more and have yet to announce a UK release date. 

Jane Austen’s final, unfinished novel almost became an unfinished adaptation when ITV cancelled it on a cliffhanger (or several cliffhangers) after one season. The incredible determination of the Sanditon Sisterhood (which also has a strong British contingent) used sand drawings, twitter storms, letter and email campaigns to persuade PBS and ITV to revive the series. 

We have strayed far from Jane Austen’s unfinished work in the two preceding seasons. 

Before she succumbed to the illness that lead to her death in 1817, Austen had written 11 chapters of a new book originally titled ‘The Brothers’ and later renamed Sanditon. We can assume from the way he was introduced (by both Austen and Davies) and by the book’s original title that one of the Parker brothers, Sidney, was intended as the story’s hero and Charlotte Heywood’s future husband. 

Alas for Sanditon fans, actor Theo James, who played Sidney, decided not to return for season two or three. 

As someone who was invested in the SidLotte happily ever after, I was disappointed in Theo James’ refusal to return once the self-titled “Sanditon Sisterhood” miraculously secured a season two after a tireless and inventive campaign. 

As a Janeite, I felt his statement that “I’ve always maintained that his journey concluded as I wanted it to. The broken fairy-tale-like ending between Charlotte and Sidney is different and so interesting to me” was utter drivel. After all, Austen herself declared, “my characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.”

James was a producer on season one so to refuse to return was churlish at best and Sanditon fans were initially very disappointed. They felt that they’d campaigned for a renewal with the original cast providing an ‘Austen’ happy ending. 

Enter Ben Lloyd-Hughes AKA Alexander Colbourne, the floppy-haired, brooding knight-in-shining-armour. 

He really grew on me throughout season 2. Although I have to confess a penchant for Leo Suter as Mr Stringer (who also failed to return for a second season) and the Irish charm of Captain Fraser. 

The second series was left on a cliffhanger but thankfully there was no chance of a cancellation this time as series two and three were filmed back-to-back. 

We left Allison Heywood married to her Irish solider-turned-farmer (Poldark undertones anyone?), heiress Georgianna Lambe and her fortune saved from the schemes of the debauched, rakish schemer Lockhart, but Charlotte and Alexander were hurt and alone due to misunderstandings and defensiveness. In the very last scene, we saw ‘boring’ farmer Ralph declare to Charlotte’s Sanditon friends that he was engaged to her. 

So what does Sanditon series 3 have in store for us? There have been a few snippets and trailers for Sanditon Season 3 so far and more recently PBS published the episode synopsis. I have determinedly avoided those as they are too spoiler-laden for my tastes. The following contains light spoilers from the trailers and character lists only: 

Lady Susan (the glorious Sophie Winkleman) is returning (which is alone reason enough to watch it) and a most attractive brother, Samuel, for Alexander Colbourne has been conjured up to deliver ‘she is not married yet’ encouragement with piercing blue eyes. 

Samuel Colbourne is a lawyer and one suspects will have to defend Georgianna’s fortune against Lockhart who is determined to claim it as his own. 

From the pictures and trailers I have hope that they won’t make Ralph too despondent or too foolish. I have much sympathy for him. He may be ‘just a farmer’ but he is very attractive (!) and clearly loves Charlotte. I know that is unrequited love and Charlotte was born to live in Sanditon with one paramour or another but Ralph is not a rogue or a libertine, just a bit dull. He strikes me as being in the mould of Mr Robert Martin in Emma. Hardworking, self-made, dependable. I hope he finds his Harriet Smith for I am sure he will not be allowed to marry Charlotte ‘she is not married yet’ Heywood in the end.


There is a new man on the arm of Miss Lambe (I fear another fortune hunter, I would so love to see Georgianna with someone who deserves her). Augusta’s tresses have been pinned up in a way that suggests that she is ‘out’ but alarmingly in one picture she is on the arm of Edward Denham!

I assume a happy ever after for HeyBourne (mostly because all the writers have given extremely heavy hints in that direction) but I am very much looking forward to seeing how it all comes to pass. 

It is not the ending Austen would have planned (although, let’s face it, that has less to do with Theo James’ departure than the sexing-up and liberal poetic licence taken in the first series) but I am still very drawn to Sanditon. It brings me the peace, escapism and sense of warmth and wonder that I look for in a period drama. Rose Williams is an inspiring heroine as Charlotte, a lovely combination of Lizzy and Jane Bennet, and I am looking forward to seeing how her story ends (whenever ITV deign to allow me to see it!) 

Follow me on Instagram for all things period drama: @pertopinionsandfineeyes


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