ITV has commissioned acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (War & Peace, Mr Selfridge, Les Misérables, Pride and Prejudice) to adapt Jane Austen’s final incomplete novel, Sanditon.
Billed as a “lavish new drama,” the eight-hour series will be produced for the channel by Red Planet Pictures with co-production partners, MASTERPIECE based on Austen’s original 11-chapter fragment.
Written 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.
Polly Hill, ITV’s Head of Drama, 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.”
Davies added: “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.”