Every television fan knows the feeling of their favourite show ending or being cancelled without warning, but how many of us can count ourselves among the lucky few whose formerly-cancelled shows were saved from the jaws of Hollywood irrelevance? Sanditon loyalists can, but whenever the historical drama returns to television, it’ll still look very different: Its leading man has already bowed out of the project.
If you love historical dramas and all things Jane Austen, it’s likely that you already tuned into the ITV series Sanditon. The Regency-era story, pulled from the notes of one of Austen’s unfinished manuscripts, explores life in the bustling seaside town of Sanditon; there, love, class, and ambition collide, bringing total opposites Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) and Sidney Parker (Theo James) closer in the process.
The show was obviously a hit, attracting Theo James stans and lovers of historical fiction alike, but after just one season, ITV revealed that it wouldn’t be renewing the series. That announcement was understandably heartbreaking for fans, especially since the final episode of the first season ended on a particularly un-Austen like note — after seven episodes of longing gazes and tender touches, the CharNey ship did not sail. Dissatisfied and disappointed, Sanditon viewers rallied for the show’s comeback at every turn, and their efforts paid off because the show has been belatedly renewed for two more seasons. In the UK, they’ll be available to watch first on BritBox, and will air later on ITV.
The return of Sanditon is bittersweet because it won’t feature its beloved main character Sidney Parker. Upon learning of the show’s renewal, James shared that he will not be joining his cast mates in the second and third seasons.
“Although I relished playing Sidney, for me, I’ve always maintained that his journey concluded as I wanted it to,” James explained in an official statement shared to the show’s social media accounts. “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.”
Besides being the only person alive satisfied with the way the last episode ended, James likely has too much on his plate to reprise the role of Sidney on Sanditon. In February, HBO announced that British actor had been cast as the lead in the TV adaptation of The Time Traveller’s Wife along with Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie. The HBO project is still in pre-production and probably won’t hit screens for another year or so, but its timing most likely conflicts with filming for Sandition.
Losing Sidney might be unfortunate, but Sanditon still has an ensemble of interesting characters to keep up with. And because Austen never technically finished the manuscript that the series is based on, this story is essentially limitless — we can truly take it in almost any direction.
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