PBS Reverses Cancellation of Series for 2 Season Renewal, But Major Star Not Returning

In a shocking turn of events, PBS has reversed its initial cancellation of Sanditon and renewed it for a second and third season. Entertainment Weekly reports that ITV has acquired the new seasons for the UK release, and BritBox Original joined the series as a co-producer. Season one writer Justin Young (Death in Paradise, Ripper Street) will step into the role of lead writer and executive producer alongside series creator Andrew Davies (Pride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones's Diary). This renewal comes on the heels of a very vocal and passionate fan campaign to "Save Sanditon," leading to online petitions and trending hashtags.

Sanditon is an adaptation of Jane Austen's final, incomplete novel, and tells the story of Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) as she returns to the coastal resort town. As she helps the floundering town get back on its feet, Charlotte also has her first taste of romance in the form of Sidney Parker (Theo James). "We are absolutely delighted to announce a second and third season of Sanditon, a show that has inspired such a passionate and devoted fan base," executive producer Susanne Simpson said in a statement. "Audiences can expect romance, humor, and plenty of twists and turns in these new seasons."

However, there is one bitter caveat to this renewal: star Theo James will not be returning. PBS said in a tweet that the upcoming seasons will still focus on Charlotte's search for romance, but Sidney will not be a part of it. "While Sidney Parker will not return, rest assured that an abundance of romance & adventure lies ahead for the Sanditon heroine. We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store." James, who will next be seen in HBO Max's adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife, also released a statement about his decision. "Although I relished playing Sidney, for me, I’ve always maintained that his journey concluded as I wanted it to," he wrote. "The broken fairy-tale like ending between Charlotte and Sidney is different, unique and so interesting to me and I wish the cast and crew of Sanditon every success with future series."

Given how passionate the fanbase was about saving the show, they also have many opinions on James' decision to not return. "So glad Sanditon is returning! But can someone please remind Theo that Jane Austen never ends her books in an unhappy way and she would have never wanted things to end like that between Charlotte and Sidney?" one fan wrote. "Even if he just comes for the end of the 2nd season? We owe it to Jane."

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This renewal comes after the announcement of not one but two film adaptations of Austen's Persuasion, one starring Succession's Sarah Snook and the other starring Dakota Johnson and Henry Golding for Netflix. It seems like every decade or so there is a boom of Austen madness, so lace up your corsets and pull on your boots, because it appears that we may be entering the latest era.