Deborah Yaffe

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Sanditon farewell?

By Deborah Yaffe, Dec 16 2019 02:00PM

Jane Austen experienced her share of literary rejection. One publisher declined even to look at the manuscript that eventually became Pride and Prejudice; another agreed to publish the forerunner of Northanger Abbey, only to sit on his acquisition for years.


So Austen’s ghost is probably coping with the lowering news that the much-hyped TV adaptation of Sanditon won’t be renewed for a second season.


And the early signs seemed so promising! Here was the novel Jane Austen left unfinished at her death! In its first full-scale screen adaptation! With a story by Andrew Davies, the man behind the BBC’s iconic 1995 P&P! Who is famed for his ability to squeeze sex scenes into period adaptations of classic fiction! Dreams of a Downton Abbey-style cash cow must have been dancing in the heads of the broadcast partners, ITV in the UK and PBS in the US.


But the reviews in the UK, where Sanditon’s eight episodes aired over the summer and fall, were mostly lukewarm or worse. Then some viewers objected to the ending, which, perhaps in a bid to keep the franchise going, was not – spoiler alert! – a classic Austenian happily-ever-after. And now comes word that the ratings were also pretty underwhelming – below three million, according to Davies himself.


"We would have loved it to return, but unfortunately we just didn’t get the audience that would make that possible for us,” an ITV spokeswoman told the entertainment website TVWise.


But all hope is not dead: British fans, eager for that happy ending, have launched an online petition calling for a Season 2. Meanwhile, Sanditon begins its US run on January 12, and if we Americans take to this beachy tale of Regency life, it seems possible that PBS might finance another season. Why we should like it when the Brits did not remains unclear, but hey – tastes differ! Once upon a time, some idiot decided to pass on Pride and Prejudice.


3 comments
Dec 29 2019 07:22PM by Kaat

I really hope and expect US viewing figures will be good! In the UK ITV decided to start the series in a Bank Holiday weekend with lots of people being away, against Peaky Blinders & without a lot of promotion. They seem to only consider overnight viewing, and did not take in account the catch up streaming. It would be a shame if this gem of a series would be indeed a one season only. It's been yeasr since I have been so captivated by a TV-serie! Loved it!

Dec 29 2019 07:25PM by Kaat

Also, could you link to another petition:
https://www.change.org/p/itv-give-us-sanditon-series-2

Jan 2 2020 04:53PM by dyaffe

I'm looking forward to seeing it -- thanks for your good review!

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