‘Mr Selfridge’ writer says it’s ‘a privilege’ to complete Jane Austen’s ‘Sanditon’ for TV

The creator of Mr Selfridge has described what attracted him to adapt Jane Austen’s unfinished final novel as a new TV mini-series.

Austen’s original 11-chapter fragment will be extended into eight one-hour episodes for ITV and Masterpiece, it was announced last month.

Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, the final manuscript of Sanditon will be brought to life by Emmy and BAFTA-Award winning screenwriter Andrew Davies, who has previously adapted War & Peace and Pride & Prejudice for the BBC.

Davies commented: “Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment!”

He teased: “Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing. It’s been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop Sanditon into a TV drama for a modern audience.”

The official synopsis reads: “Sanditon tells the story of the joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky 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, it exposes Charlotte 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.”

The book is available to buy on Amazon.

Sanditon will begin filming next Spring and is expected to air in late 2019 in the UK on ITV and in the US on Masterpiece on PBS.

Writer Andrew Davies is currently working on the BBC’s new version of Les Misérables.