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Jane Austen’s unfinished Sanditon gets lavish ITV adaptation

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The legendary Andrew Davies has set to work adapting Jane Austen’s unfinished and final novel Sanditon for a major new ITV drama.

The drama is being made by ITV, Masterpiece and Red Planet Pictures and is being executive produced by Red Planet Pictures’ Creative Director, Belinda Campbell (Death in Paradise, Dickensian, Hooten & The Lady) and MASTERPIECE’s Rebecca Eaton. Austen’s original 11-chapter fragment has been extended into a sumptuous 8×60 minute drama series.

Davies is no stranger to Austen having scripted the BBC’s 1994 Colin Firth starring version of Pride and Prejudice, he remarked of the script “Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment! Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing. It’s been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop Sanditon into a TV drama for a modern audience.”

Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker. When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London, exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover herself… and ultimately find love.

ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill commented: “It’s a rich, romantic, family saga built upon the foundations Jane Austen laid. There is no one better to adapt her unfinished novel than Andrew who has an incredible track record for bold and original adaptations. We’re delighted to commission Sanditon from Belinda Campbell and her team at Red Planet Pictures.”

Executive Producer, Belinda Campbell commented: “Andrew Davies’ compelling scripts bear all the hallmarks of the biting social commentary and realism that makes Jane Austen one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Sanditon’s themes of class divide, ambition, power play and matters of the heart are as relevant today as they were in the early 19th century and we can’t wait to bring this incredible adaptation to life for ITV audiences to enjoy.”

MASTERPIECE’s Executive Producer, Rebecca Eaton said: “Jane Austen and Andrew Davies are a match made in MASTERPIECE heaven. We can’t wait to introduce our audience to this wise and wonderful drama.” MASTERPIECE is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston.

Sanditon is a Red Planet Pictures production commissioned for ITV by Polly Hill and MASTERPIECE by Rebecca Eaton. Created 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 casting director is Jill Trevellick. Casting will be announced in due course, with filming expected to commence in Spring 2019. BBC Studios is distributing the series internationally.

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