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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Sanditon, the convention

In the past three years, Sanditon, the TV series based on Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel, has roller-coastered through a dizzying series of ups and downs: the hype (a new adaptation from Andrew Davies, screenwriter of the iconic BBC Pride and Prejudice!); the fizzle (lukewarm reviews, mediocre ratings, early cancellation); the lobbying (by a passionate online fanbase appalled at the unhappy cliffhanger ending); the reprieve (two new seasons, coming right up!); and the asterisk (star Theo James departs, and with him any hope for the desired happily-ever-after).

And now comes the next episode in the saga: SandiCon2022, a six-day fan convention in London, followed by a seven-day tour of filming locations in and around Bristol. The whole extravaganza kicks off next March, for a total cost of £750, or $1,059 – plus airfare, hotel rooms, and souvenir merchandise. The event, organized by and for fans, is non-profit, with proceeds going to charities, including Jane Austen’s House.

On social media, fans have voiced severe disappointment at James’ departure, but the tone of the SandiCon2022 publicity is unabashedly celebratory. “After working so hard to #SaveSanditon and making #SanditonSeason2 and #SanditonSeason3 a reality, we're going to finally come face to face with the lovely friends we've been interacting with for months,” the conference web site exults.

Programming details are still sparse at this early date, although organizers have announced participation by Austen biographer Paula Byrne, a consultant on the series, and Olly Blackburn, who directed three of the eight episodes. No word on the real cliffhanger: Has Theo James been invited?

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