Yesterday, on January 20, 2022, it was a full day of Sanditon overload from the short teaser trailer from PBS Masterpiece being released, to the tweets on Twitter about the questions to the producers and cast at the Television Critics Association 2022 Winter Press Tour. Thanks to a few individuals who attended the virtual tour held on Zoom, the fans obtained some valuable insight into the show and also fantastic feedback from the cast.
Once again it was acknowledged that it was the fan base that spurred the decision to bring back Sanditon despite its cancellation by ITV. In consultation with BritBoxUK and also BBC Studios, financing was put together and a solution was reached. However, like other delays in bringing shows back, some actors moved on to other roles so not everybody was able to return.
The most notable of those not returning, of course, is Theo James. When the renewal was a go, Theo James did not want to return. Afterward, the decision was made quickly not to recast the role, as they thought it would be implausible to bring in another actor to take the role of Sidney Parker. How do the writers deal with Sidney’s character departing in Sanditon Season 2? The word “grieving” was used by one of the critics on Twitter and confirmed by the writers that they want the audience to understand that Sidney is never returning to Sanditon. Make of the statement what you will, but most are taking it to mean that Sidney has died, and the audience will grieve that loss with Charlotte.
Justin Young confirmed that Mark Stanely, who played Lord Babbington, was unable to return due to other commitments. However, he and Esther still have a strong marriage, even though she returns to Sanditon in Season 2. I think everyone is relieved that they are experiencing their happily ever after.
When speaking of the other characters, we learn that Colbourne has a mysterious personality like Rochester in Jane Eyre, but the writers assure us he has no madwoman locked up in the attic of his estate. Described as a “misanthropic widower,” he should prove to provide us with the typical brooding man. As far as Lennox, he’s the classic Austen redcoat, whatever that means, which should be interesting to see how he plays his part in season two.
Crystal Clarke stated she has a platonic romance with Arthur this season and with others. Georgiana is feeling the pressure of her inheritance, and Tom Parker is now her guardian. Not the best choice as we all know! Her value is her money, but she’s not necessarily looking for love. Chrystal Clarke stated she lives vicariously through Alison, Charlotte’s sister, in her pursuit of love. Alison’s character is born out of Austen’s books and relationships, like with her own sister Cassandra.
Charlotte is far more mature in season two, while Alison is the “wide-eyed innocent.” Rose Williams spoke that she wished for Charlotte to have the opportunity after season one to explore herself. Rose said as far as the loss of Sidney, she compares Charlotte’s state of mind to being something like Anne Elliot in Persuasion. A love lost. Charlotte will be hired as a governess in Colbourne’s household to care for his niece, who is his ward, and apparently a child that he has from what fans gather from tidbits during filming.
It was also mentioned that due to the USA PBS fans’ complaints about the over-sexed season one (let us remember Clara’s skillful hands and the romp upon the parlor floor), the second series will be toned down in that regard and be more Austen inspired. The UK audience didn’t balk that much about season one’s impropriety. PBS Masterpiece has never had a lot of skin exposed when it comes to sexual content because it’s public television. Frankly, I think season two of Sanditon will do just fine showing chemistry, longing, and heated interactions that will require the audience to fan themselves. If you want sex, go watch Bridgerton season two. You’ll get plenty of nudity and bedroom scenes over there.
What impressed me the most about the comments being conveyed are those of the new leading men. Apparently, they both came across as charming during the conference but also did their homework regarding their parts. Tom Weston-Jones recognizes that his character of Lennox is inspired by Austen, and took the time to research historical journals. Ben Lloyd-Hughes admitted he always wanted to play an Austen hero. Even though Colbourne is a creation of an Austen-Inspired-Hero, he said, “It was just a joy from start to finish” to play Alexander Colbourne.
Naturally, with the release of this news and the short preview, there is a wide range of comments from complaints to praise. The possibility of episode one telling the story of Sidney Parker’s demise is upsetting to some fans who wanted Theo’s return. I find more solace in that scenario than one of Sidney living an unhappy and painful existence with Eliza Campion. Even if the writers had them move to the other side of the world, Charlotte would remain exposed to Sidney’s life through Tom’s family. My personal wish would be to spare her such a situation and rather have her grieve a loss and move on.
The fact of the matter is, Theo James will never return to Sanditon as Sidney Parker. Fans need to accept his decision. Otherwise, they are going to miss out on something spectacular.