PBS, ITV to Adapt Jane Austen's Unfinished Novel 'Sanditon'

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Andrew Davies, who adapted 'War & Peace' for the BBC, is working on the eight-part drama.

Sanditon, the unfinished Jane Austen novel written just months before the author's death in 1817, is being adapted for TV.

Acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davis (War & Peace, Les Miserables, Pride and Prejudice) is set to bring the book to life for ITV in the U.K. and PBS' Masterpiece in the U.S., with Red Planet Pictures having been commissioned to produce the drama. 

Executive produced by Red Planet Pictures’ creative director, Belinda Campbell (Death in Paradise, Dickensian, Hooten & the Lady), and Masterpiece's Rebecca Eaton, Austen’s original 11-chapter fragment has been extended into a series of eight 60-minute episodes.

Sanditon tells the story of the joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her relationship with the humorous, charming and slightly wild Sidney Parker. When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, Charlotte is exposed to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London, exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover herself – and ultimately find love.

“Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment," said Davies, who added that the story included "a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress and quite a bit of nude bathing."

ITV's head of drama Polly Hill said that Davies had "an incredible track record for bold and original adaptations" and his script was a "rich, romantic, family saga built upon the foundations Jane Austen laid."

Added Campbell: “Andrew Davies’ compelling scripts bear all the hallmarks of the biting social commentary and realism that makes Jane Austen one of the most widely read writers in English literature."

Sanditon is a Red Planet Pictures production commissioned for ITV by Hill and for PBS Masterpiece by Eaton. Filming gets underway next spring, with casting to be announced. BBC Studios will distribute the series internationally.