This New Masterpiece Adaptation and Additional Programs Featuring the Works of Jane Austen Air This Winter on CPTV

Charlotte Heywood, played by Rose Williams (Photo : Copyright © Red Planet Pictures/ITV 2019; Photographer: Simon Ridgeway)

Jane Austen was chronically ill with a mysterious disease in early 1817, when she turned her thoughts to a happier subject. She started work on a witty and delightful novel set in a seaside town. She never finished it.

Now, noted screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Les Misérables, Primetime Emmy® Award winner for Little Dorrit) picks up Austen’s plot and takes it in a glorious and satisfying direction, on Sanditon.

When to Watch

The eight-hour series comes to Masterpiece on PBS in January 2020. Don’t miss it on CPTV, airing on Sundays, January 12 – February 23 at 9 p.m. (Episodes 1 and 2 will premiere back-to-back beginning at 9 p.m. on January 12.)

View a Trailer

Jane Austen Marathon

On Sunday, February 16, 2020, enjoy a marathon of Jane Austen programs:

  • 6 p.m.:  I Hate Jane Austen – British columnist Giles Coren hates Jane Austen’s writing. Can others convince him he is wrong?
  • 6:40 p.m.: The Public Television Feature Film Collection: Sense & Sensibility (1995) Rich Mr. Dashwood dies, leaving his second wife and her three daughters poor by the rules of inheritance. The two eldest daughters (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet) are the titular opposites.
  • 9 p.m.: Sanditon on Masterpiece, Episode 7 (Premiere)

More About Sanditon

Masterpiece’s bold and lavish adaptation of Jane Austen’s final work stars Rose Williams (Curfew) as Austen’s lively but levelheaded heroine, Charlotte Heywood; Theo James (Divergent) as the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker; Anne Reid (Years and Years) as the forthright grande dame of Sanditon, Lady Denham; Kris Marshall (Love Actually) as Sanditon’s compulsively enterprising promoter, Tom Parker; and Crystal Clarke (Ordeal by Innocence) as the mysterious West Indian heiress, Miss Lambe.

Also appearing are Kate Ashfield (Secrets and Lies) as Tom’s stalwart spouse, Mary; Jack Fox (Riviera) as the fortune hunter Sir Edward Denham; Charlotte Spencer (Watership Down) as Sir Edward’s scheming sister, Esther; and Lily Sacofsky (Bancroft) as the enigmatic and elegant Clara Brereton.

The storyline, as Austen left it in 11 beautifully crafted chapters, is as follows: Tom Parker is obsessed with turning the sleepy seaside village of Sanditon into a fashionable health resort, and he enlists the backing of local bigwig Lady Denham. Through a mishap, Tom makes the acquaintance of the Heywoods and invites their eldest daughter, Charlotte, for an extended stay at Sanditon. There, the sensible Charlotte observes hypochondria, avarice, and attempted seduction run amok. Lady Denham is playing matchmaker for her destitute nephew, Sir Edward, who is determined to seduce Lady Denham’s ward, Clara. The arrival of wealthy, mixed-race heiress Miss Lambe, under the protection of Tom’s upright brother Sidney, adds an interesting complication. Eligible men find Miss Lambe fascinating, while Charlotte is intrigued by Sidney…

With many promising loose ends and romantic possibilities, how will the young people pair off? Who will Lady Denham designate as her heir? Will Tom’s tourist spa finally catch on with the public? Where will that lead? Andrew Davies imaginatively enters this world of Georgian-era suitors, hustlers, and health cranks and boldly tells us what happens next.

Remarkably, even as Jane Austen was succumbing to the ravages of her fatal illness, she chose to lampoon the contemporary fad for tonics, sea water cures, and other medical remedies. Undiagnosed at the time, her malady was probably Addison’s disease, which today is easily treatable. She might have had many years of writing ahead of her, but Jane Austen died at age 41, on July 18, 1817.

For more on Jane Austen and Sanditon, visit the Masterpiece website.