In a special bonus episode of MASTERPIECE Studio, Sanditon stars Rose Williams and Crystal Clarke reunite in the studio to answer a few of your viewer questions about the series, their friendship and the difficulties of wearing Regency-era corsets.
Barrett : I’m Barrett Brountas, and you’re listening to a special bonus episode of MASTERPIECE Studio.
In Jane Austen’s picturesque seaside resort of Sanditon, the brothers Parker might be on the rise, but it’s the women of Sanditon who are really in charge — and who hold the purse strings.
Tom Parker: We are just coming up to Sanditon House now, Lady Denham’s place. She is the great lady of the town, you know, very rich, and very much involved, as I am, in the future of Sanditon as a first class bathing resort! There, you see it coming into view now.
Barrett The flinty Lady Denham — and the reserved, mysterious Miss Georgiana Lambe — have the real money in Sanditon, and like so much else in Regency Era England, money is power.
Mrs. Griffiths Between you and me, Lady Denham, I understand there was another reason for sending Miss Lambe away from home.
Lady Denham Doesn’t surprise me in the least. What’s her fortune?
Mrs. Griffiths One hundred thousand pounds.
Barrett Charlotte Heywood and Georgiana Lambe are a mismatched pair of best friends — a sheltered, ambitious and blunt young country girl and a wealthy, worldly woman of color — but their blossoming friendship lights up the Sanditon screen and has animated our MASTERPIECE social media feeds ever since the show premiered.
Charlotte I do not think I have ever seen anyone lie quite such virtuosity.
Miss Lambe The fault is entirely with her. Were she not so pious, we’d have had no cause to lie. And it worked, did it not? Here we both are!
Barrett It was for just that purpose that we opted to bring Sanditon stars Rose Williams and Crystal Clarke back together for a special bonus episode of the podcast, responding to some of your midseason questions and commentary.
Our @MASTERPIECEPBS Twitter handle — which you should follow if you don’t already — asked viewers for any questions or comments they had for Rose and Crystal, and we asked the pair of real-life friends a few of those questions in a recent interview.
Crystal Clarke’s first day on set was Miss Lambe’s near-tragic cliffside gaze sequence in the series’ second episode.
Rose Williams: I remember your first day really well.
Crystal Clarke Oh my gosh.
Rose Up on the cliffs. Like it was the second week, I think, of filming.
Crystal: It was the second week of filming and my first day. And it was intense.
Rose: Yeah, it was, very windy.
Crystal: It’s this scene where I’m on the cliff crying.
Rose: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, God. Yeah.
Crystal And Charlotte comes over.
Charlotte Hello? Miss Lambe? Are you all right? Miss Lambe? Miss Lambe? It’s me…Charlotte Heywood? We met at Lady Denham’s? What is it? What’s a matter?
Rose: Crystal killed it.
Crystal: It was good. Yeah. But you also like from the very beginning always made me feel really safe. Like I think we both knew that we were safe in each other’s arms.
Rose: One hundred percent.
Crystal: And very much like always discussing things about the script to make sure that they fit in and fit in with this this new type of Jane Austen that we were doing and fit in for our characters. Your character as a young woman, and my character as a young woman of color and always like, had each other’s backs. So then, when that was our first scene that day, it was just perfect because it’s Charlotte being an ally and being an ear for Georgiana when she hasn’t had that. Yeah, and it fit perfectly because that’s how I felt with you.
Rose: Oh, bless. Yeah, I know. It’s really nice to hear. Because that is how I felt.
Barrett And you, our viewers, were overwhelmed with warmth around the joyous scene of budding new friendship that followed this potentially dangerous moment.
Charlotte! Come on, it’s fine! Good for you, come on! You see…it’s freezing!
Barrett Twitter user @soberlandness wrote, “Georgiana and Charlotte becoming besties is life Can I join the girls club?,” and user @quoththetweet similarly shared, “I need into Georgiana and Charlotte’s girl army.”
But perhaps most mischievously, user @leebee4life asked, “Can Charlotte and Georgiana couple up instead? Honestly, none of these dudes is worth either of them.”
Rose: Thank you.
Crystal: Thank you, yes. We were saying that like all the time.
Rose: We did. We legit, said that
Crystal All the time.
Rose They listen to each other.
Rose: They understand each other. They bounce off each other
Crystal: They support, each other. They’re very, they’re not the same like person. They’re not like, super similar.
Crystal: They’re very different people. But their differences, they accept them and they support them. Yeah. And it’s not like. Yeah.
Rose: And Georgiana can make Charlotte more glam….
Crystal I mean, yeah, like we wanted that. We were like we’re like we really wanted. That would be a lot
Rose That would be an interesting, that would have been an interesting take. We like that very much.
Crystal: Yeah. We support that. We support it.
Barrett While the Charlotte — Georgiana friendship may be slightly based on a ruse so Charlotte can spy for Sidney Parker, the emotional connection the two actors built on set and off lends their relationship a truly grounded experience, they told us.
Rose: I think that the friendship from the beginning, because that was a very, very emotional for me. Rose to see Crstyal, we’ve just met. And she was opening her heart and he soul on the edge of a cliff, on this gorgeous landscape. Like, when do you see that? With this gorgeous young woman that is just baring herself and it’s so palpable as an actor on set when that is another actor that’s really going that emotionally because you can feel it, you get the chills. You get goosebumps.
Crystal: You’re going to make me cry.
Rose: I feel emotional too, but it’s rare that you really find that in a scene. And it’s like when you watch a movie or when you go see a play or something, and you’re moved to tears. Crystal on day one did that. However many takes, however many times, stood looking stunning on the edge of a cliff. And then I come up behind and like, we embrace. And that was real. Like, I couldn’t be fake in that moment with Crystal because she was so open and so beautiful. So, from that scene, I think there is a real genuine emotional connection. I think that happens in real life. If you just meet somebody and you both, there’s an emotional exchange that connects people.
Crystal: Yes, emotional intimacy. Yeah. Like right away, right away, you’re able to see someone vulnerable.
Crystal Like that, then I think it’s pretty deep.
Crystal Right away. And it’s not like she runs away, she stays and comforts her and walks with her and they talk.
Crystal So I don’t know. I feel like she, I don’t think there’s like any particular expectation.
Rose: No, it’s a genuine exchange.
Crystal: There’s an immediate appreciation of another person. I think of each other at the end of that cliff scene, like when they’re walking.
Rose: And I think Charlotte massively looks up to Miss Lambe, too. Although, is she younger? I think Miss Lambe’s younger.
Crystal: Miss Lambe’s younger.
Rose: Yeah Miss Lambe’s younger. Charlotte’s 22 and Miss Lambe’s a teenager. Yes.
Crystal: I’m actually older in real life. And I look it.
Rose: No you don’t, you look like a little baby.
Crystal: I’m a little baby.
Rose: I think that there’s an element of Charlotte up what looks up to Miss Lambe greatly because Charlotte admires people that speak their mind. And Charlotte, I tell you when Charlotte really respects and thinks Miss Lambe’s wicked, is that that pineapple luncheon.
Crystal The pineapple scene, yeah.
Rose And that’s before the walk. So Charlotte has…
Crystal Oh, yes. Of course.
Rose Because she says, do you remember me from yesterday? So she’s been sat there at the table. And Annie’s character, Lady Dunham says some really probing, inappropriate, nasty things at the table.
Lady Denham An heiress with a hundred thousand must be in want of a husband, I think?
Miss Lambe I don’t care to be any man’s property, Lady Denham.
Lady Denham Oh! Hoity toity! I should have thought someone like you would be quite used to being a man’s property! Was not your mother a slave?
Miss Lambe She was. But being used to a thing and liking it are not the same, my lady.
Lady Denham I am beginning to think you are a very opinionated young lady, Miss Lambe! What do you think, Miss Heywood?
Charlotte I know that young ladies are not expected to have opinions, Lady Denham, but I think Miss Lambe is quite right to value her independence, just as you do yours.
Rose And Miss Lambe holds her with so much poise and so much mischief.
Crystal: And then Charlotte also like pipes up for Miss Lambe, and Miss Lambe notices that, you know, they’ve already like in that moment forged a connection. Because it’s an understanding of, ‘Oh, okay, you are you are open to my perception and my perspective. That makes me feel safe.’ There’s an immediate thing with them.
Rose: And I think that’s the best. For me, those kinds of female bonds mean the most in the world ,more than anything. A genuine support, like sister-like connection is the ultimate kind of support in my life.
Crystal: And you gonna stand up for each other at that long table with that rotten pineapple in the middle. Because it happens quite often.
Rose: Oh, yeah. One hundred percent. I would say that it is a genuine bond. And Charlotte deviating from that with her kind of ‘Mission Sidney,’ quote unquote. I think she thinks that what she’s doing. That’s Charlotte’s problem. She always thinks that she’s doing the right thing. But she kind of has to understand that she needs to maybe think a bit more when she makes decisions.
Crystal She also didn’t have all of the information all of the time.
Rose Yeah, she wanted to keep Miss Lambe in a good, safe, and actually she didn’t investigate enough.
Barrett Let’s take a brief break from this BFF conversation to hear a quick word from our sponsors…
Barrett Another place where Rose and Crystal found common ground on set was the stunning, uncomfortable Regency-Era costumes. Twitter user @mickimaynard asked whether or not the costumes got in the way during outdoor scenes.
Crystal: Those clothes, man. Those clothes are uncomfortable and you gotta do everything, you got to sit there like, and eat, and be full with a corset on, and all these layers at a ball, dancing around in heat, like…it was uncomfortable.
Rose The physical challenges.
Crystal It’s like they weren’t just like emotionally, mentally uncomfortable, they were physically uncomfortable, pretty much all the time.
Rose: That’s the thing about corsets, man. And I’ve said this before quite a few times because it really confuses me. The cut of Regency, that style of dress, the one that comes right into the bust, the A-Line, that conceals the waist. So these women were in these very uncomfortable corsets that the Regency period corset came all the way down really, really far to the top of the thighs almost, at least the one that I was wearing. And it pushes the bust up a lot. But it’s not visible. It just affects the way that you walk and it affects the way that you feel and it affects the shape of the bust. So, underneath this flowing dress, that’s quite sexy and Grecian, there’s this constriction. And I think that’s such a good metaphor for the Regency period was, you know, it was artistic. There were people kind of being poets and William Blake and painters and things were changing and exciting. But at the end of the day, women couldn’t sign contracts. And under those dresses…
Crystal: They couldn’t breathe. It was all quite glaringly difficult. I don’t know, it’s not something that I’ve not thought of before. Like the difficulties that Ms. Lambe goes through and that Charlotte goes through, I was just already aware, like in terms of life. And that is that stuff for the costume. Yeah.
Rose: So the reason appears weird because right off then the Victorians came in and everything got worse. So it was this like breath before the Victorian era, that was still pretty like, unparalleled.
Crystal That’s how it goes, that’s how the world goes, in cycles isn’t it? These were people. They may have had like certain airs about them, but everyone wasn’t like talking in like a really specific masked way all the time, do you know what I mean?
Rose: I mean, yeah. These are human beings, that’s what Olly really wanted to portray, was this vibrant Regency period where people were wearing like crazy fashions coming over from Paris and men are in pinstripes and with top hats. And the women have these flowing curls. And like the landscape of Britain is changing, and that’s exciting and different. And these people were very much alive and very much creative and very much changing the landscape of Britain. And he wanted to capture that. And his notes to all of us really were, ‘Just be natural.’
Crystal: Just be natural.
Rose Because the kind of the expected tight kind of style of performance…
Crystal Is a style of performance.
Rose Is a style of performance. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
Barrett Another twitter user, @SMaryG, asked Rose and Crystal what personality trait each actor most admired in their character.
Crystal: Georgiana is very…she’s protected. But can also be vulnerable at the same time. I mean, that’s something that I hold on to.
Rose And she has a great sense of humor.
Crystal She has great sense of humor. She is not afraid to speak up. Love that. Like, I love saying things that make people uncomfortable. So I identified with that strongly.
Rose: I admire those qualities in Miss Lambe For Charlotte, I’d say I guess the way that she isn’t afraid to speak up too, I like. I think that’s nice about her and the fact that she isn’t focused on romance. Kind of, love finds her. She doesn’t look for love.
Crystal: I like that about Charlotte. Which I wish Georgianna would do more than she does.
Barrett On this week’s episode, Charlotte and Georgiana escape the watchful eyes of Miss Lambe’s Gorgon for what was supposed to be a friendly picnic — with the unexpected addition of one Mr. Otis Molyneux, Georgiana’s lost London love.
Miss Lambe Has Otis not the most handsome face you have ever seen?
Otis Forgive Georgiana. She has far too high an opinion of my virtues. You may disregard most everything she has told you of me.
Charlotte As a matter of fact, Mr. Molyneux, she has told me nothing of you. Until a moment ago I did not even know you existed
Barrett It’s definitely a bit of a third-wheel situation for Charlotte, but Rose doesn’t think her character would necessarily be all that jealous of her new best friend’s well-deserved happiness.
Rose: I think ultimately she wants her new friend to be happy and okay and safe and we know she can sense that Miss Lambe is unhappy in Sanditon because it’s all so boring.
Crystal: Among other things.
Rose: Among other things, yeah. Yeah. Boring and horrible people everywhere. And absolutely get me out of here. I would say…
Crystal: I don’t think she harbors like jealousy in that way. I mean, because that’s not like a real friend wouldn’t do that.
Crystal It’s just like it’s just like an emotional reaction, like just like initial shock and like… Also because then it begs the question for her, what else don’t I know? Yet, like, she’s like, okay. Then I’d clearly just don’t understand what’s going on at all.
Rose: She doesn’t know who to trust and she would trust Georgiana over Sidney. And as that episode progresses, we see. I think when they’re on the boat and Otis sings his lovely song, that is when Charlotte is sold she’s like, ‘This guy is great. These two… can be maid of honor?
Barrett Rose and Crystal also gave viewers a bit of a preview of the rest of this season of Sanditon — with hints of the story still to come.
Rose: Well, it ends on the question, who is Sidney Parker and what is he up to, what kind of a guy is this? And also, what is Charlotte doing? Stepping out of line and disobeying Mary Parker. Which is just…me and Kate had a really hard time filming that scene because she didn’t want to call me a silly girl.
Rose Yeah, I know. I know. I said I don’t want a fight. We didn’t want to fight with each other in that scene. She goes, ‘It just feel right being like this with you.’ So we had a hard time with that. So I think Charlotte disobeying Mary Parker really says a lot like where is this girl going now? And I suppose all the questions posed around Sidney’s character and Miss lambe.
Crystal: Miss Lambe’s relationship, her situationship, no, I’m just kidding, it’s not a situationship, to be clear. It’s a relationship.
Rose: Yeah. Well, what’s gonna happen to Otis?
Crystal: Why is Sidney not wanting them to be together?
Crystal Huge question.
Barrett To find out for yourself, don’t miss Sanditon, continuing on through February 23 at nine PM Eastern / 8 PM central on MASTERPIECE onPBS, or streaming on PBS Passport, a member benefit from your local member station.
Thanks to all of our viewers for their great questions for Crystal and Rose on social media. You can join the conversation at Twitter.com/MASTERPIECEPBS, or on Facebook.com/MASTERPIECEPBS.
This episode of MASTERPIECE Studio was hosted by me, Barrett Brountas, and produced and edited by Nick Andersen. Rebecca Eaton is the executive producer at large of MASTERPIECE. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Susanne Simpson.
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