We’ve got terrible news, Sanditon fans: the Jane Austen drama has been cancelled by ITV.
An ITV spokesperson told RadioTimes.com: “We loved Sanditon and we were very proud to have it on ITV. We would have loved it to return, but unfortunately we just didn’t get the audience that would make that possible for us, which is heartbreaking for everybody involved in this wonderful adaptation.
“Sanditon is yet to air in the US and we hope they may find a way of continuing with this series.”
Speaking just before ITV confirmed the cancellation of the series, writer Andrew Davies claimed that the broadcaster was reluctant to return to the seaside drama – or any period show all.
“ITV are still dragging their heels over this,” he told RadioTimes.com at the BBC Writers’ Festival when asked if Sanditon – which is based on an unfinished manuscript by Austen – would return.
“[Viewer numbers] dipped below three million. They had taken a bit of a hit over Vanity Fair – they’ve sort of gone off doing period drama.”
Vanity Fair – the 2018 adaptation of the William Thackeray novel of the same name – saw its audience shrink during its first series, with viewing numbers threatening to dip below two million mark by the finale. The drama is not expected to return for a second run.
However, the broadcaster will be serving up another period drama with Belgravia, a series penned by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, in 2020.
Although now likely, ITV’s cancellation doesn’t necessarily mean Sanditon will be forever lost at sea. As Davies told us: “The American co-producers are very keen to do a second series – we’re still living in hope.”
Plus, Red Planet Pictures, who produced Sanditon, also say this isn’t necessarily the end.
“We’re very proud of Sanditon and look forward to seeing how it’s received on [US channel] Masterpiece in January. We will obviously explore all opportunities to keep the world of Sanditon alive,” they told RadioTimes.com.
Although the first series of Sanditon was received reasonably warmly by critics, many viewers were perplexed by the show’s very un-Austen-like ending.
Rather than gifting fans a happy ending to the story (a hallmark of the author), the series concluded on a cliff-hanger, with leads Charlotte (Rose Williams) and Sidney (Theo James) not in a relationship, tearfully bidding each other goodbye.
Would the couple end up in each other’s arms in the show’s second series? Or are the pair destined to take other lovers? Davies suggested either ending could be possible in new episodes.
“I don’t know if you could tell from watching it, but we were rather counting on getting a second series,” he said. “We thought if wrap up Charlotte and Sidney at the end of the first series, we’d have to have a new heroine take over or something like that in series two.”
He added: “I do sympathise with everyone who felt upset about Charlotte and Sidney not getting their happy ending. Although, happy endings don’t always happen.”
BBC Cymru Wales, National Theatre Wales and BBC Writersroom Wales have recently opened their Wales Writer in Residence scheme for aspiring writers.