It is a truth recently acknowledged that Andrew Davies, grandfather of the sexed-up British period drama, used all the existing material from Jane Austen’s final novel in the first half hour of his adaptation of Sanditon (ITV). This – the one most of us haven’t read, and which has never before been adapted for the screen – is the fragment Austen abandoned unfinished in March 1817. She died four months later, leaving behind 11 chapters of a strange fiction about encroaching modernity in the industrial age and, more specifically, a seaside resort on the Sussex coast.
So for once we slip into the ease and comfort of a Sunday night period drama knowing precisely where the author’s words end and the adaptor’s imagination takes flight. Say 24 minutes in, as our lively and