PBS viewers will be relieved to know one of the network's canceled shows has been saved. Sanditon, based on the unfinished Jane Austen novel of the same name, was canceled by its original network, U.K. outlet ITV, after Season 1. It aired eight episodes in late 2019 and aired on PBS in the U.S. in early 2020. In December 2019, ITV pulled the plug on the show, which starred Rose Williams and Theo James, and PBS reaffirmed that decision in February 2020. However, PBS has now reversed course.
On Friday, the network greenlit not one, but two new seasons of Sanditon. The renewal was credited to the "successful run" in the U.S. and Canada as part of PBS's MASTERPIECE block. Furthermore, streaming service BritBox UK joined the production team which helps the situation financially. In the U.K., Sanditon will air on the service and will air on ITV following an unspecified "premiere window." Justin Young, the writer of four Season 1 episodes, will now be the program's executive producer and lead writer. Andrew Davies, who created the show, will return as executive producer and will also write an unspecified number of episodes.
Break out your bathing suits and bonnets… we’re heading back to the finest seaside resort! #SanditonPBS WILL RETURN for a second AND third season. Read more here: https://t.co/s09Rf1HLfv pic.twitter.com/OQqJmP6y6R— MASTERPIECE | PBS (@masterpiecepbs) May 6, 2021
As far as a synopsis for Seasons 2 and 3, PBS' update states, "After fans were left hanging in suspense by the first season’s finale and clamoring for more, the drama will continue to follow the high-spirited and independent heroine, Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams, Curfew) as she returns to the picturesque coastal resort of Sanditon. Charlotte’s journey is one thread of an intricate tapestry of compelling stories full of intrigue, excitement, and romance. Against the backdrop of beautiful vistas, familiar faces return and new inhabitants are introduced — all of whom will be having adventures as joyous and surprising as the seaside town itself."
One name absent from that synopsis is James, who played Sidney Parker. In an update added after the renewal news broke, PBS and James clarified that the actor will not return. "Although I relished playing Sidney, for me, I’ve always maintained that his journey concluded as I wanted it to," James said. "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."
Despite this setback, executives are still excited about Sanditon's return. "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,” said Susanne Simpson, MASTERPIECE executive producer. "Audiences can expect romance, humor and plenty of twists and turns in these new seasons of Sanditon."
Filming will begin some time later in 2021, and additional cast members will be announced in the future. (No release date has been set.) In addition to airing on PBS in the U.S., the network will also broadcast Sanditon in Canada. Additional personnel include series producer Rebecca Hedderly, producer Ian Hogan, lead director Charles Sturridge and executive producer are Belinda Campbell (Red Planet Pictures).