Andrew Davies’ latest period adaptation hit ITV over the bank holiday weekend, with Sanditon – based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel – introducing viewers to the titular up-and-coming seaside resort and its residents through the eyes of young ingénue Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams).
Full of romantic tension, monetary squabbles and hints of dark mystery pasts, Sanditon’s first episode gave us a lot to think about – but for many, a surprise clinch in the woods between Sir Edward Denham (Jack Fox) and Clara Brereton (Lily Sacofsky) was the biggest talking point about the whole thing.
And when we say clinch…well, we’ll let the viewers explain.
Is that what I think it is, a hookup??!?!!? #Sanditon
— Amanda, Dispenser of Period Drama Discourse (@amandarprescott) August 25, 2019
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a hand job in the woods #Sanditon
— Monty (@MontyDeWitt) August 25, 2019
A hand job? Said in my best Lady Bracknell #Sanditon
— Neil Alexander (@neilalexander_) August 25, 2019
And as some were happy to point out, it’s not your usual Austen plot twist…
Is this the 'Jane Austen' adaptation with the hand job? #sanditon
— Sarah (@sarahvanpelt) August 25, 2019
Not sure how I previously missed the handjobs in Jane Austen’s novels ????#Sanditon
— spericki (@spericki) August 25, 2019
Mama Kitchen: “ah yes, this is where we get the handjob” not your classic Austen adaptation then ???? #Sanditon
— Rowan (@RowanKitchen) August 25, 2019
Didn't look too shy to me, first bottoms now sex in the woods this isn't Austen as we know it #Sanditon
— GentlemanJack???? (@GentlemanJackAL) August 25, 2019
So was this scene in Jane Austen’s original writings? Well no, not really – though screenwriter Andrew Davies was inspired by something within the first chapters of Sanditon to add it in…
“There’s a funny bit in the book when Jane Austen says: poor Charlotte peers looking for the deer, and sees something, she’s not sure what she’s seen, something white and womanly. And anyway, somehow it became – what it was,” Davies said.
“We just sat around talking and thinking, and saying, dare we do that? Yes!”
“I really aim to please myself, writing these things,” he added. “I write something that I would like to watch. And I suppose the sexing it up thing comes in fairly naturally. If it’s not there I feel that that’s a shame, and I put some in.”
In any case, overall fans didn’t seem too bothered about this being a racier sort of Austen adaptation – especially when they were much more creeped out by Denham’s weird relationship with his sister.
Okay with the arses and the handjob, less keen on the incest, but very jolly all round.#sanditon
— Singularist (@HannahJBetts) August 25, 2019
Is it just me, or is there a distinctly incestuous vibe between Edward and Esther Denham..? Or have I just got Lannisters on-the-brain? #Sanditon
— David Cann (@drwhofan_194) August 25, 2019
Will Charlotte tell anybody about what she saw in the woods? Is Denham really trying to ruin Miss Brereton? And will things really go all Game of Thrones by episode three? Given that Jane Austen never got beyond the first few chapters, it looks like we’ll need to keep watching to find out…
Sanditon continues on ITV on Sundays at 9.00pm