Jane Austen’s Sanditon ‘sexed up’ in Andrew Davies adaptation

Screenwriter says he used all the material from Austens work in first half of first episode

Jane Austen novels are not known for scenes of nude men jumping into the sea or secret sex acts between lovers in forests.

But for the screenwriter Andrew Davies, who is transforming Austens final, incomplete novel, Sanditon, into a TV series, it would be a shame not to add them in.

I aim to please myself when writing these things, Davies said at a preview screening, according to the BBC. I write something that I would like to watch and I suppose the sexing it up thing comes in fairly naturally.

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Andrew
Andrew Davies. Photograph: Jonathan Hordle/Rex/Shutterstock

If its not there I feel, well, thats a shame lets put some in. I like to write it and I like to watch it, the Telegraph reported him as saying.

Austen wrote the first dozen chapters of Sanditon in 1817 before she died from illness later that year. The story centres on a young woman who moves to the eponymously named sleepy village where she meets a man who is attempting to turn Sanditon into a fashionable resort.

It was previously described as being notable for its unprecedentedly forthright treatment of sexuality, and 82-year-old Davies who has previously worked on adaptations of War and Peace, Les Misrables and Pride and Prejudice admitted he used all the material from Austens fragment in the first half of the first episode.

Theres more male nudity these days and pulling back on female nudity, he said. Female nudity can be a contentious area so one feels comfortable not [including it]. But maybe the pendulum might swing back.

One section from the novel in which two characters appear closely engaged in gentle conversation has been turned into a sex scene. Another includes a sex act in the woods.

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Davies previously said adapting the unfinished work was a privilege and a thrill and that it would feature a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress and quite a bit of nude bathing.

Sanditon features an ensemble cast including Rose Williams, Theo James, Anne Reid and Kris Marshall, and the screenwriter said the contents of many of the scenes were decided collectively.

It was very much a team job, Davies said. We just sat around talking and thinking and saying: Dare we do that? Yeah!

Some period stuff can be quite dour and worthy and this is witty and lustful and lascivious, said Marshall. Sanditon is a place where anything goes.

  • Sanditon will air on ITV in the autumn.

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