There’s romance afoot on the Sanditon shores, with five new male characters heading to the resort in the upcoming second season. Who are these new male characters, and where are they looking for love? And what does it mean to be a Man of Sanditon — an Austen romantic hero? We find out in the final Making Sanditon preview podcast.
Jace Lacob I’m Jace Lacob, and you’re listening to Making Sanditon, a special presentation of MASTERPIECE Studio.
Among the first few times Sanditon viewers saw romantic lead, Sidney Parker, they saw… a lot of him.
Sidney Miss Heywood! Am I never to get away from you?
Charlotte Mr Parker, I assure you, you are the last person I wished to see!
Sidney Yes, I spoke out of turn. Forgive me.
Jace The cold, cautious Sidney emerges out of the sea, completely naked, and bumps into his unlikely romantic partner, Charlotte Heywood. And while Charlotte gets an uncensored eyeful, TV viewers still saw quite a lot of Sidney on their screens.
It was one of those rather risqué cinematic moments that lit up social media and TV critics alike when the first season aired on ITV in 2019, and on MASTERPIECE on PBS in early 2020.
Sanditon series creator Andrew Davies knows his way around this world more than most. His iconic adaptations of Austen — Sanditon, Northanger Abbey, Sense & Sensibility and, yes, his landmark 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, which featured a similar pop culture moment with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy emerging dripping wet from a pond — have prompted a new understanding of Austen’s male leads.
Andrew Davies That was a scene about a kind of social embarrassment. So two people having a polite, slightly awkward conversation and neither of them refer to the fact that one of them is is absolutely dripping wet. But it got taken as one of the sexy elements, I think. I think that’s the thing,Is Colin so gorgeous in that, that well, the women who saw it were crazy about him .
Jace While Theo James’ Sidney Parker will not be reappearing in the upcoming Sanditon second and third seasons, we can assure you that a slew of new romantic leads will make their way on to your screens when the series arrives on March 20, 2022.
Ben Lloyd-Hughes He finds her very intriguing and intelligent…and they have a very heated complex first meeting, which doesn’t necessarily go very well, but there is certainly a chemistry that he isn’t quite sure what it means.
Jace In the meantime, enjoy these three special Making Sanditon episodes of MASTERPIECE Studio, where we’re taking you behind the scenes to hear how and why we’re bringing back Sanditon, what it felt as a cast and crew to return to the series, and today — what it means to be a Man Of Austen.
Jane Austen wrote a mere six novels during her all-too-brief life, and for the past 200 years, those novels have been international cultural touchstones, drawing readers and viewers alike to her elegant stories of missed connections, misplaced confidences, and simmering romantic rivalries.
The women in Austen’s novels are smart, confident, and more than capable of holding their own on the romantic battlefield. But the men in Austen’s world are just as capable — if not a wee bit too self-assured at times. And increasingly, in modern film and television adaptations — striking. First and foremost among those attractive Austen gentlemen is, of course, Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy.
Devoney Looser These adaptations are giving us new ways to go back and see the variety of love and sexiness and romance in history and in the present. And I’m grateful for them
Jace Devoney Looser is the Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University. She’s a highly respected scholar of Austen’s life and works, and the author of The Making of Jane Austen, among many other books. Her search for new versions of romance aside, she knows there’s more than just looks that make an Austen hero.
Devoney Looser What I think is amazing about these characters, both in the original novels and in the adaptations is that they like smart women and that they listen to women, and I think the love of intellectual women is one of the things that makes the traditional Austen man sexy.
Jace And Looser knows that Davies understands what it means to make a Man of Austen.
Andrew Davies The Austen hero does tend to survive in modern romantic fiction. And I think Darcy is often the prime model — slightly foreboding, slightly withdrawn. We gradually find that he’s nursing some kind of pain or hurt in his heart, which emerges. And and he turns out to be a person capable of great tenderness and steadfast affection.
Jace The Men of Sanditon — our modern Men of Austen — are indeed slightly withdrawn and foreboding. And in the upcoming second — and third — seasons of Sanditon, there are a bunch of new Men to add to the canon.
Alexander Vlahos My name is Alexander Vlhaos. I am an actor, writer director and I play Charles Lockhart in Sanditon, season two.
Tom Weston Jones My name is Tom Weston-Jones. I play Colonel Lennox in Sanditon, season two.
Ben Lloyd-Hughes I’m Ben Lloyd-Hughes, and I play Alexander Colbourne in Sanditon.
Frank Blake My name is Frank Blake and I play captain Declan Frazer in Sanditon, season two
Maxim Ays My name is Maxim Ays and I play Captain William Carter in Sanditon.
Jace So who are our new Men of Austen?
Maxim Ays I think there’s a initial and palpable kind of physical attraction and rapport and. In a way that’s. I think I think. She’s looking for someone to love was. Carter’s, maybe I don’t know, he’s more experienced in this field, and he has felt a sense of love before. So he approaches it with an immaturity, which is kind of. One of his most defining characteristics
Jace Captain William Carter, played by Maxim Ays, is one of a few military men who come to town next season. He’s handsome, charming — and maybe more than just a pretty face.
Maxim Ays Essentially I think the looks are the main, uh, the main jewel in his not so studded crown. But despite saying that he is, he does have a certain level of base emotional intelligence and is a compassionate and sensitive person. So he’s not he’s not good looking and mean he’s a he’s a compassionate and caring individual. He’s just a little slow to come to realizations that he probably should have made quicker.
Jace Unlike his character, Ays came to the scene prepared — having read Austen’s Sanditon fragment before joining the cast.
Maxim Ays I mean, she’s a she’s a titan of a writer in this country and all over the world, so I was somewhat familiar with the stories and the characters in some of the bigger novels and the general themes. But I wasn’t that familiar, and the only novel of her’s I have read is Sandition, and obviously that’s only a partially finished novel.
Jace Ays’ Captain Carter is joined in the armed forces by the scarred, gruff Captain Declan Fraser — played by Frank Blake.
Frank B;ale I think he’s maybe a bit conscious about his looks, about his his scars and I mean small as they are, he thinks they’re massive, massive wounds on his face, and he just thinks he’s a bit gruff and rough around the edges for anyone to possibly love.
Jace Fraser is well-read, and witty — and his aloof manner conceals a sensitive, thoughtful bent.
Frank Blake He gets off on slagging people off a bit, teasing them and that might even be. A way of endearment for him, something he enjoys doing to people he kind of secretly likes and not secretly likes, but I feel like he just wouldn’t he wouldn’t engage with it, if at all, at all, if he didn’t really didn’t like it. And also she’s well able to give her back at times, and he really enjoys that.
Jace Both men are fiercely loyal to their commander, the sharp, suave Colonel Lennox — played by Tom Weston-Jones.
Tom Weston-Jones I think Lennox is someone who is used to people giving him what he wants and used to seeing a bit of awe in people’s eyes as soon as they lay their eyes on his resplendent red coat. I think that’s something that he uses a lot of the time, as you as people would, it’s just sort of status symbol, really.
Jace Indeed, much like Sidney, or Mr. Darcy, Lennox’s first appearance in the series has him not entirely clothed — a moment he uses to his advantage.
Tom Weston-Jones He knows exactly what he’s done and he knows exactly what she is implying, and he knows that there’s an element of him getting under her skin, not necessarily in a negative way, but he knows that they’ve kind of got each other. And from then on, I think it’s game on, really.
Jace A character with no such concern in this upcoming season is Charles Lockhart, played by Alexander Vlhaos.
Alexander Vlhaos I think he’s a peacock. I think he’s, yeah, a rock star. I wanted to give that effect. You. Walking into a party and people would immediately turn their heads wanting the equivalent of a selfie or an autograph.
His showboating artist character is a provocateur, almost a dandy, bringing the modern world to the still old-fashioned Sanditon with his daring words and jarring attire. He brings romance, too, of course.
Alexander Vlhaos But like any good relationship, it’s kind of like that Benedict and Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing in Shakespeare, where they absolutely despise each other and in public, they really don’t get on. But deep down, is something going on fireworks? There’s a spark? And that’s kind of what we what we aimed for and the writing really backed that up. And it’s a sort of great relationship arc throughout the season.
Jace And finally, the mysterious Alexander Colborne — played by Ben Lloyd-Hughes, who also might meet the Mr. Darcy level of dignified distance.
Ben Lloyd-Hughes He very much is a loner and an outsider. I didn’t film with many people for a long time. Most of my storyline was very intimate in terms of the characters I was filming with, it’s quite a small group of characters in one location or a couple of locations, which meant inevitably I just didn’t interact with many people, and it meant that I was probably inevitably slightly more of a, not aggressive outcast, but a kind of subtle one.
Jace You’ll note, of course — we don’t dare tell you who these five new Men of Austen are romancing.
Ben Lloyd-Hughes There is a fantastic and exciting and intriguing storyline there for the audience and one that I I’m really excited for it to be eventually seen and watched, and it’s got everything that a good Jane Austen story has, and it’s full of tears and romance and laughter and fun.
Jace We know, of course — and the actors playing these roles know too — but isn’t it more fun to sit and wait?
Before we hear more, let’s take a quick break to hear a word from our sponsors…
Jace While we wait, we can guarantee — as series’ lead Rose Williams did in our previous episode — that the romances to come are faithful to the spirit of Austen.
Lauren Wethers One of the qualities that they have is just this ability to see the protagonist for who she is and to understand her.
Jace Lauren Wethers is a podcaster and cohost of the Reclaiming Jane podcast, which bills itself as a Jane Austen podcast for fans on the margins.
Lauren Wethers And I mean, that’s a quality that you would want to see in any romantic hero of any age…Even as she’s figuring at herself and navigating the world and, you know, getting to understand her own faults and virtues. And there is somebody on the other side who takes the time to see and to understand her, sometimes against their own better judgment at first, sometimes have been, you know, waiting in the wings for their time to make a second entrance, but that there is a sense that you are seen and understood. And I think so many of us yearn for that and that alone can, and, you know, can elevate someone to hero status in your mind.
Jace Not all five of these new men of Austen are heroes, of course. It’s no spoiler to say that at least one of these dashing new beaus will break some hearts. But like any Austen adaptation — Sanditon remains centered on the feminine perspective.
Ted Scheinman I think there’s something about the the centering of not just of women characters, but of women’s consciousness and cleverness and. And the way that they shape their own destiny is the novels that seems to be very, very appealing…
Jace Ted Scheinman is a senior editor at The Smithsonian Magazine and the author of the deeply charming memoir, Camp Austen.
Ted Scheinman There is always a happy ending, but it is grounded in the strong sense of real life and it is sharpened with this deeply ironic consciousness.
Jace Happy ending or not, we can promise you, as Sanditon head writer Justin Young says, a range of classic literary heroes — with a modern edge.
Justin Young Hopefully we try to thread the needle of that in a way that we’re aware of the genre we’re in that, you know, you want a man who feels like a classic romantic hero, but somebody who also has enough of a kind of modern perspective.
Jace Young knows what’s he’s talking about here, too — Sidney’s poetic declaration of love to Charlotte in season one came from his pen.
Sidney I am a good deal less than perfect. You have made me all too aware of that. But for whatever it is worth, I believe I am my best self, my truest self, when I am with you. That is all.
Justin Young And when I wrote that, I didn’t think it would resonate with people because it just seemed to me that that was quite a that to me, is the definition of what love is, is when you know, you are somebody who makes you the best version of yourself that felt like something that I would want my hero to be. And so I guess that’s quite a modern and modern perspective in a way, isn’t it, that in some way, you know, it’s it’s we’re all working on ourselves, we’re all trying to be better, but we’ll try to improve ourselves while trying to be better versions of ourselves.
Jace The best version of us all — or indeed, at least of Sanditon — arrives on your screens here in the United States at 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 20 on MASTERPIECE on PBS.
You can hear more conversations about Sanditon — including interviews with the key cast and creative crew — throughout the upcoming second season, every Sunday here on MASTERPIECE Studio beginning in March. And you can listen to all eight episodes of our podcast interviews for Season One of Sanditon at pbs dot org slash MASTERPIECE Studio, or search for MASTERPIECE Studio wherever you listen to podcasts.
Coming up next, though — a different kind of literary adventure.
Fogg I am going to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days. Or less.
Fortescue My dear fellow. What has happened, Fogg?
Fogg Nothing has happened. Not for years. I’ll start today. One o’clock. With any luck I’ll make the overnight sailing from Dover to Calais.
Jace David Tennant stars in a brand new adaptation of Jules Vernes’ Around the World in 80 Days — and he joins here on the podcast — for our 200th episode! — on January 2.
MASTERPIECE Studio is hosted by me, Jace Lacob. This episode was produced and edited by Nick Andersen. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Susanne Simpson.
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