PBS giveth, Theo James taketh away.
On May 6, Sanditon, the PBS Masterpiece series based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, was given new life. Though Sanditon was initially canceled after one season in 2019 by the British broadcaster ITV, it was miraculously revived for two new seasons thanks to high demand from fans. Call it the Bridgerton effect.
“Break out your bathing suits and bonnets…we’re heading back to the finest seaside resort,” Masterpiece PBS tweeted. “#SanditonPBS WILL RETURN for a second AND third season.”
Fans were delighted…until they weren’t. Sanditon follows Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), a Sussex girl who arrives to stay in the up-and-coming seaside town of Sanditon and ultimately ends up in a bit of a love triangle after making the acquaintance of the Parker brothers. A big part of the show’s appeal, at least according to the Twitter fandom, was Theo James’ portrayal of Sidney Parker. Unfortunately, one day later, the network announced that James will not be returning to the role.
“#SanditonPBS will return w/ seasons 2 & 3 and continue Charlotte’s journey through life & love,” they tweeted on May 7. “While Sidney Parker will not return, rest assured that an abundance of romance & adventure lies ahead for the Sanditon heroine. We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store…”
Along with the news was a quote from James, who seemingly chose to leave the series. “Although I relished playing Sidney, for me, I’ve always maintained that his journey concluded as I wanted it to,” he explained. “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.”
Let’s just say fans were not happy about the fate of their supposedly “endgame” ship. Many especially felt that James fundamentally misunderstood Jane Austin’s work and the romance genre as a whole.
Considering PBS announced in their tweet that “Sidney Parker will not return” as opposed to the actor, it doesn’t seem like the role will be recast, but some fans are calling on PBS to do just that.
This may remind some readers of the announcement that Regé-Jean Page will not be returning to Bridgerton season two. While the response to that unexpected news was definitely loud, the outcry was generally directed at the universe as opposed to Page (for the most part). Perhaps that’s because the character arc for Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, was only meant to span one season. Furthermore, the series delivered on the happy ending between Simon and Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor).
Still, while many Sanditon fans are clearly devastated, some are reminding the fandom to give season two and three a fair chance.
Here’s to two more seasons!