Who doesn’t love a passionate period drama? This month, the fictional seaside town of Sanditon is coming to our shores, and we know it’ll have us captivated. The BBC series, based on Jane Austen’s final and unfinished novel, centres on the experiences of country girl Charlotte (played by Rose Williams), when she travels to the town of Sanditon. While Charlotte’s story is pivotal and inspiring, the male leads also play a big part in bringing the tale to life.
Here, we catch up with some of the burlier stars of the new BBC show, Sanditon…
Check out the latest trailer here:
Theo James plays Sidney Parker
Actor Theo James, 34, of the Divergent film series fame, is married and lives in London.
Q: Tell us about your character, Sidney Parker.
TJ: “Sidney is the middle of three brothers and is, in a way, the anti-hero. He’s wayward, ill-tempered and slightly dangerous. He’s been in Antigua for the last 10 years so adjusting to life in England is hard. His backstory is that he was engaged briefly, but his love left him to be with a wealthier man. He starts out broken and unwilling to trust anyone. Initially, he views Sanditon as a small, sleepy town but, over time, he comes to see it as prosperous. Sidney becomes a good, moral person, but he’s not the classic dashing star. I liked the challenge of playing someone who evolves.”
Q: Were you familiar with the Sanditon story before you saw the script?
TJ: “Honestly, I’d never heard of it. But I wasn’t going to pass up on the chance to work on a great period adaptation. And I knew Austen’s writing is warm and funny, with great social commentary and messages that are still very relevant today. There isn’t much about Sidney in the book, so the character is largely a new creation.”
Q: What was the hardest thing about being on the show?
TJ: “Wearing a three-piece suit and leather waistcoat in the middle of summer. And, I haven’t done TV in 10 years, so I had to get used to the quicker filming schedules – you get a lot done in a day. Fun parts were learning to dance and play cricket – though, I think I’m pretty rubbish at both. There’s a lavish ball in almost every episode and a special dance between me and Rose towards the end of the season. I hope I pulled it off.”
Q: Your favourite Austen novel?
TJ: “Mansfield Park – though, probably because it’s one of the few I’ve read.”
Kris Marshall plays Tom Parker
Death in Paradise star Kris Marshall, 46, lives in Bath with his wife and two young children.
Q: Have you ever been in a show like this before?
KM: “Never. Though, I’ve been in Shakespeare films and 1920s dramas. But this sounded like a lot of fun. I love everything about the Georgian era because the extravagant architecture and fashion is completely contrasted to the harsh realities of the time – disease, poverty, people losing their teeth. But, we gloss over all that in the show, so don’t worry.”
Q: Tell us about your character, Tom Parker.
KM: “I play the eldest Parker brother, who’s trying to be the most upstanding of the three – it shows in how tight my costumes are and how straight my back is. Tom’s an entrepreneur and property developer who wants to transform Sanditon into a thriving resort town featuring everything from elegant hotels and circuses to bathing machines, so tourists can’t resist going there. He’s a visionary and if he were alive today, I imagine he’d be the head of a cool tech company.”
Q: What were some of the challenges you faced?
KM: “Keeping up that very formal way of speaking. We’ve become quite lazy in our use of language, so making sure modern-day colloquialisms didn’t creep into Austen-style dialogue was tough. Also, the woollen suits and jackets got very hot, but I’m sure they’ll edit the sweat marks out in post-production.”
Here’s a quick behind the scenes video if you want to learn more about men’s style during Austen’s era:
Q: What do you want audiences to take from the series?
KM: I hope the show attracts the traditional costume-drama fans – they’re the bedrock of our viewership – but, I also think it’s something anyone can enjoy. The team worked hard to create something that feels new and delicious; there’s a sense of naughtiness and fun that’s really refreshing. TV period drama is a well-populated field but, because this hasn’t really been done before, I think audiences are in for a treat.”
Sanditon premieres on 1 November at 8pm on BBC First, DStv channel 119
If you want to hear from the dynamic female leads, grab a copy of our December issue (on shelves from 11 November) for more insightful interviews.
Compiled by Features Editor Stephanie van der Plank