As the date of the airing of the first episode of Sanditon draws ever nearer (Sunday 25th August, at 9pm on ITV) the cast of Sanditon and the director of the new series have been doing a series of interviews about their thoughts and experiences on bringing this unfinished Jane Austen work to life.
An overview of Sanditon
The novel begins with a coach accident in which Tom Parker is injured, and the Heywoods, the local gentry, come to help him.
To show their thanks, the Parkers invite the eldest Heywood daughter, Charlotte, to Sanditon. Sanditon is a seaside village which Tom Parker is doing his best to turn into a fashionable spa resort – similar to Brighton; a seaside resort where rules were relaxed and having fun was the ultimate goal.
While in Sanditon, Charlotte meets the formidable financial backer of Parker’s plan to put Sanditon on the map, Lady Denham. Charlotte also encounters the dependants scheming to be Denham’s heir, and various members of the Parker family, including the roguish Sidney…
Thoughts from Andrew Davies, the director of Sanditon
Andrew Davies said that he had used up all his Austen material as early on as halfway through the first episode, which he found briefly daunting, then a liberating wheeze as The Times put it.
Davies had used up all his Austen material by halfway through the first episode, which he found briefly daunting, then a liberating wheeze. Entertainment was the aim. “We just sat around talking and thinking and saying, ‘Dare we do that? Yeah!’” he says, alluding to the furtive sex act the ingénue heroine Charlotte Heywood (Williams) stumbles upon in the first episode. It is a scene that — along with the bared buttocks of male swimmers and, elsewhere, overtones of incest — may have Austen purists reaching for the smelling salts. If Davies has been cavalier, even layering on a 21st-century sensibility, he is unrepentant. “What Austen did was set up a place and establish this wonderful group of characters very clearly, but she never really got the story going at all.”
Austen’s first working title was The Brothers. “This idea of a new kind of Jane Austen man had real appeal,” Davies enthuses. “These are not gentleman farmers or landed aristocrats, but businessmen and entrepreneurs. They’re something new, more representative of what the country was going to become in the industrial age.” Sanditon also fascinated Davies, a fan of Love Island, for its “Wild West-like” depiction of a place on the make, a resort trying to attract celebrities and influencers.
From The Times interview.
Thoughts from Anne Reid, who plays Lady Denham
On undertaking Austen’s unfinished work:
I think there will be people who say you can’t do it and you shouldn’t have done it, but we’re in the entertainment business and I think people love period dramas don’t they? You just keep your fingers crossed in this business, you can never predict how something will go, ever.
On being on set:
I’m quite difficult to work with. I can get very unpleasant on the set. I’m not very unpleasant I don’t think in life. But that’s when you see the worst side of me.
I can still be put off by a director or I can be thrown by something … It only needs someone to say, ‘I don’t like the way you are doing that’ or ‘Do you not think it a good idea if you do that?’ and I immediately get very thrown because I need to go away and think about it. The young people on this set are quite surprised – they said to me at the beginning that I still have the same problems that they have.
Thoughts from Leo Suter (young stringer), Rose Williams (Charlotte Heywood) and Kris Marshall (Tom Parker)
Thoughts from Charlotte Spencer (Esther Denham) and Jack Fox (Sir Edward Denham)
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