Sky Schedules Austen’s Sandition

Andrew Davies’ controversial adaptation of Jane Austen’s unfinish-ed last novel Sandition will premiere next month on Sky’s UKTV (9.30 Mondays from April 6).

The series is set in a sleepy fishing village that’s evolving into a fashionable spa resort, where an unconventional country girl discovers herself and true love.

The Hollywood Reporter said the eight-part drama “does fluff and stretch Austen’s original 11 chapters into oblivion” and “gives way to too many episodes that serve as clunky filler”.

But it praised the “refreshingly gut-wrenching ending” while the Wall Street Journal thought it “does incorporate aspects of life that were more or less obscured in Austen’s books. One can imagine her being tickled.”

UK critics were less impressed with Davies’ attempt to update and complete the original with modern themes.

The Times called each episode “interminable”, The Mail on Sunday quipped it evoked what “Austen might have written if she’d been a lesser writer” and The Guardian said: “Every box is ticked off to great satisfaction or dull predictability depending on where you stand on the period drama tolerance scale.”

And in an analysis rife with spoilers, The Guardian reported ITV’s dramatisation “offended the sensibilities of many Janeites” while Radio Times asked if there would be a second season:

Ahead of the show’s launch, Andrew Davies told press: “We would love it to come back as a second series. Lots more story to tell.” As for what might happen next, he revealed: “I do have a few ideas. And in fact the way we end series one, I hope we’ve ended at a point where the audience is going to say: well you can’t end it at that!”

Digital Spy reports he was right about the reaction of viewers, who were “furious with the ‘not very Jane Austen’ series finale”.

Whatever Sandition’s shortcomings, it’s disappointing UKTV’s taken so long to offer it here, given it aired seven months ago in the UK and four months ago across the Tasman on Foxtel’s BBC First channel.

But at least the long gap means the costume drama will now premiere here dressed up to the nines in HD.

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