Monday, 14 October 2019

SANDITON four more episodes STRESS AND CONFUSION



Episode 5
Things are hotting up and beginning to go at a pace as plot themes continue and develop.
One important Austen aspect I think Andrew Davis does highlight and  portrays in this series is the power and strength of women subverting the male patriarchy. Charlotte continues to be feisty. Georgiana continues to be rebellious and Esther Denham and Clara Brereton continue to be wicked. Lady Denham with her wealth is enabled to boss everybody.

LADY CUPID

Charlotte continues to act as a go between, between Georgiana and Otis. She brings a letter  for Georgiana. As a guise to allow Georgiana to read the letter in the vicinity of Mrs Griffiths Charlotte reads out loud from Mary Brunton’s  book , “Self Control.” A witty 18th century type of joke there. Ha! Ha!
Lady Denham continues to be a match maker for her neice Esther. She has actually been writing letters to Lord Babington in Esthers name.Esther is mortified and seething with anger of course. A meeting between Lord Babington is arranged, Lord Babington proposes. Who would have thought? Esther turns him down.He is far too dissolute for her, poor man She really is in love with her ,”brother,” Edward. A passionate full on kiss later on proves incontrovertibly the truth of the matter to us the viewer.

THE CRICKET MATCH

. An annual Sanditon cricket match between the Workers and The Gentlemen is a crowd puller and a positive advert for the town. Tom is desperate for it to go ahead but there is the problem of the building workers actually turning up. They will constitute one of the teams and they have not been paid their wages. Also an equally desperate Young Mr Stringer , the captain of the workers team, needs money for materials and equipment to actually build Sanditon.  Tom Parker is really in a mess and it seems to be getting worse for him.

 CHARLOTTE PLAYS CRICKET

All of Sanditon turns out on the beach to watch the match. Lady Denham, Clara, Esther, Georgiana and Charlotte and many more are spectators. The gentlemen team wait for the workers team to arrive. Tom Parker, to assure their participation, promises them their wages. The workers arrive but Stringer loudly proclaims the workers grievances about no pay and Lady Denham and  Mrs Parker, who have both been kept in the dark about the dire financial situation now know all. What will happen next?
The game begins. The Workers are all out for 86 runs. The Gentlemen go into bat and are doing well. It looks an even game. One of the gentlemen can’t take his turn batting and Charlotte offers to take his place. Shock horror. This is a gentlemen’s game after all. Charlotte is unperturbed and tells how she often played cricket with her brothers and sisters. She goes into bat and hits the final runs for the Genltemen’s team to win. Another knock at the patriarchy. Hurray!!!Mr Stringers lenient bowling and chivalry may have had something to do with it though.

MISS LAMBE'S ESCAPE

While everybody has been distracted by the cricket., Georgiana has escaped and run off to the town where she thinks she is going to meet Otis. Otis is not there but she is bundled into a coach and driven off. Charlotte is horror struck. She and Sydney have another shouting match, this is becoming a regular theme in this series. Charlotte, the feisty individual she is, decides to go off to London…..is that where Georgiana has been taken... on her own to find Georgiana. End of episode. This is turning into a lively version of Miss Marple or even Poirotte. We shall see. Everything is up in the air. Phew. Exciting.


Episode 6:

SYDNEY PLAYS MR DARCY

Think European noire films from the 40s. Think Grahame Greens ,”Third Man,” starring Orson Wells filmed in black and white. Charlotte arrives in London at night time, alighting in the dark and dingy narrow foul smelling streets with shifty dangerous characters at every turn, in every doorway and alleyway. “I don’t know where I am?” She begins to wander aimlessly looking for the address she has for Otis, a hopeless endeavor it would seem. She is out of her depth. A man grabs her from behind and we imagine all sorts terrible things are about to happen when a tall, burly shaded character in black intervenes and brutally punches her assailant. There, suddenly is Sydney standing next to her ready to fight off all attackers. I must admit I have been remiss in this area of Sydneys abilities as a pugilist. In the first episode I failed to inform you that Sydney takes part in a boxing bout for the entertainment of an audience. He savagely beets up and cuts his opponent. So Sydney has history in the art of fighting. It must have been a miracle that Sydney should have been there at the very moment Charlotte was about to lose, even her life, perhaps. But this is an Andrew Davies story of course.

OTIS IN THE UNDERWORLD

The address for Otis is an inn near the docks. He uses the premises merely to pick up his post occasionally. Otis does not live here. Sydney and Charlotte enquire about Georgina. The only possible place is a brothel. Charlotte in her innocence enters with Sydney who is well known by the madam. Oh dear me. Its getting worse. It appears he is a client. Charlotte strangely does not appear too perturbed by this revelation. I thought she would have been. It seems Georgina has been sold to a wealthy gentleman who, when we see him, bears some resemblance to portraits of the Prince Regent. He wants to marry Georgiana  for her inheritance. Otis turns out to be a gambler deep in debt to this unsavory character.
We begin to understand some of Sydney’s behaviour towards Otis and Georgiana.

ANTIGUA CONNECTIONS

In Antigua Georgiana’s father, who was dieing, an old friend of Sydney’s has entrusted Georgiana to his care until she becomes of age to claim her inheritance. Sydney thinks of Otis as a predator only wanting to marry Georgina to get her fortune, a husband takes over the wealth of his wife, to pay off his debts and to have a fund to fuel his gambling habits. They find Otis eventually and he denies this version of things and feels hard done by. He loves Georgina.

ESCAPE AND RESCUE

The three find the house of the gentleman who has bought and paid for Georgiana and discovers they have eloped to Gretna Green, a place across the Scottish boarders where a license to marry is unnecessary. That reminds me of Wickham and Lydia but we have no time to make connections. Things are moving at a pace. They have already left a few hours previously. Georgina and Sydney take a carriage to intercept them. A carriage chase ensues at a speed, all of the blistering pace of perhaps 20 miles an hour, when the going is good. The excitement builds and the coaches pull level. Their drivers whip the horses into faster and faster motion. Sydney times his jump and leaps on to the driving seat of the escaping carriage. A sharp elbow to the chin of the driver renders him unconscious. Sydney halts the carriage and retrieves Georgina. The portly, slavering, kidnapper calls, “ What about my £1800? Actually that is a considerable amount of money. Georgina is returned to Sanditon safely, intact and unsullied, I think.

SYDNEY HELPS HIS BROTHER TOM.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, sorry Sanditon, things are not going well.Tom thinks he has hit rock bottom. He can’t pay his workers. There is no more money for materials and he despairs that he has lost the trust of his dear wife. He looks and we feel his deep depression. Sydney is informed about this situation in a conversation between the two brothers and Sydney offers £3000 of his own money. Tom is humbled and grateful. He has been saved, for now. He has got to repair the relationship with his wife though. I have had my suspicions about Sydney’s wealth. He obviously has made money in his West Indian adventures although he declares to Charlotte that he deplores slavery and does not condone it. So how has he got his wealth? Another episode will reveal more. There are only two to go.

LADY DENHAMS WILL

At the end of the last episode Lady Denham appeared to be dieing or was she dead? No, she is still alive, bedridden and weakening and declares in a feint voice. “ I am well. There is nothing wrong with me. I shall recover.” Are we to believe her? Lord Edward begins a frantic search for Lady Denhams will, searching day and night. He leaves nothing unturned. His sister Esther thinks even with the possession of the will they can’t persuade Lady Denham to change it. 

CLARA BRERETON ON TOP.

Just when his searching proves fruitless Clara appears, holding between her thumb and forefinger, the will. She had possession of it all along. Lord Edward promise that she can have one fifth of the proceeds of the will. They destroy the will burning it on the fire.  With the will gone Lord Edward will be the natural recipient if there is no other evidence. Clara at first agrees to this arrangement. However, she has other ideas. More in keeping with the brothel in London, we wonder further about Clara’s past, she skillfully seduces him., Taking charge she climbs on top of Lord Edward’s ,”manhood,” as she prostrates him on the floor and ,”rides,” him to their mutual, gasping, heavy breathing climaxes.( My goodness this sounds like a slutty novel. Ha! Ha!) Clara then ups the stakes and demands a quarter of the will. Why? How? Because she will tell Esther what has just occurred and also, I suppose, if she becomes pregnant that will be another factor to help Lord Edward keep his word.  I can’t help thinking that the wily old Lady Denham will have more than one copy of her will. Surely her solicitor will have a copy ? But we shall see. So, would you like to know what was written in the will? Of course you would. Clara and Edward read it before destroying it. The bulk of the inheritance was for the development of Sanditon. The rest, well, to a donkey sanctuary. I do not jest.

LONDON BALL

Anyway. Things are just beginning to look up for Tom Parker and Sanditon. Lord Babington, who is now appearing to be quite a good sort and not the dissolute type everybody thinks he is, arranges a ball in London for all the glitterati to promote a sailing regatta Tom wants to hold off the coast at Sanditon. Tom thinks this regatta will be the highlight of the year and draw many more people to Sanditon. The ball goes ahead and Charlotte reluctantly  attends. Sydney has changed his mind about Charlotte and shows her a lot of attention.  Is this the beginnings of love? Charlotte is told that it is love she is feeling when she meets a mysterious, sophisticated, lady ensconced in the green house at the back of the ballroom. Who is she? Charlotte reveals her thoughts and mixed up feelings and the lady tells her she is in love. Sydney arrives to take Charlotte back to the dance floor. But a twist at the end reveals that a past love of Sydney’s, Eliza, who married another man for money instead of Sydney is attending the ball. She is now widowed. Sydney shows her attention and is obviously distracted by her. We finish this episode, the camera on the face of Charlotte, distraught and not knowing what on earth is going on.
Yes, this is getting quite good. But, as I have said before its definitely not Jane Austen.


Episode 7

JUST STRAIGHTFORWARD NASTINESS

If you have every watched,” The Adam’s Family,” an American horror, comedy film and TV series about a family made up of ghosts and monsters you can imagine the beginning of this episode, the penultimate episode to Sanditon. In a darkened room, Lady Denham is laid out like a corpse, surrounded by her supposedly grieving family, Edward Denham, Esther Denham and Clara Brereton, all looking suitably somber.  Lady Denham is not yet dead but we assume the moment is nigh. Esther is left on her own with the dying Lady Denham and as she lies there. Esther pours her poisonous heart out into the ear of Lady Denham telling her as she dies about their scheming plans to take her wealth. She speaks about the burning of her will and the sexual passion enacted on her ballroom floor between Clara and Edward. Esther is venomous and sneering in her recount. There is not a flicker of consciousness from the apparently unconscious Lady Denham. The viewer can’t help thinking that all this ire surely cannot go to waste in this dramatic episode. There is the overriding feeling that Lady Denham will suddenly sit up straight and make us all leap out of our seats screaming. Was she conscious enough to take in the bile and nastiness that poured out of Esther into her ear though?

SYDNEY GOES SWIMMING AGAIN

It is the early morning. A mist clears over the calm sea. In the far distance,  onto the pristine, flat, yellow sands, beneath a pale blue morning sky emerges a far off naked Sydney  fresh form his early morning sea bathing. Then suddenly the camera turns to a shot of his slender hairy wet legs as he apparently dries off his upper half  with a towel, out of view. All erotic thoughts are annulled. Good sex is  about being aflame with passion. Here we just have wet hairy legs. Nice!.Theo James, who plays Sydney Parker, permanently has a furrowed look of concerned anguish, and confusion on his face. This facial expression has not altered for the whole seven episodes so far and I doubt, with that expression apparently frozen on his face , it ever will.

LADY DENHAM SHOCKS THEM ALL

Charlotte visits Georgiana at Mrs Griffiths lodgings. Georgiana seems to be recovering but is in a sulk. Will she be reunited with Otis? Not during this episode anyway.
Clara, Edward and Esther are profoundly shocked to their very ,”foundations,” by the sudden news that lady Denham has made a full recovery. Dr Fox is delighted. What is more she was ,”compos mentis,” all through Esther’s vituperative speech about the hatred for her and the awful things they plotted against her  while she apparently lay unconscious. She knows all the nasty intrigues that have been going on. After the  lack of eroticism in the  scene with Sydney’s hairy legs earlier, Lady Denham gives eroticism another great kick in ,”the behind.”. She is disgusted at the thought of Clara and Edward having sex on her ballroom floor and declares that she will have to have the ballroom resurfaced. A real ,”cold shower,” on the ardour of Edward and Clara.  Lady Denham proceeds to pack Clara off back to her family never to return and then proceeds to kick Edward out too, never to return. She appears to want to retain Esther for some nefarious reason, perhaps, enticing her with the thought that she alone remains to inherit her fortune. But, that is not what the original will said! I don’t know. Lady Denham has obviously got something up her sleeve yet.

THE REGATTA

Tom Parker is proceeding with plans for the regatta.  The regatta is to be a skiff race with rowers on a local river. Anybody who lives or has visited the South Coast of England knows that a regatta is a race between sailing boats but I suppose that would be too cumbersome and slow an event for a TV series. Andrew Davies transposes the regatta to a rowing race on a river instead. Lady Worcester, the mysterious lady with the advice about love Charlotte met at the London Ball arrives in Sanditon with all her wealthy aristocratic followers. Tom Parker thinks it is to attend the regatta but Lady Worcester has come to see Charlotte. Of course the regatta benefits form her attendance and the attendance of her friends.

ELIZA CAMPION IN SEARCH OF SYDNEY

Eliza Campion is among the visitors and she is in Sanditon to continue and further her relationship with Sydney. Charlotte feels rejected and in emotional turmoil. Charlotte and Sydney have their moments and Sydney’s look of pained confusion does sterling work. Eliza of course commandeers most of his attention. She is beginning to see Charlotte as an adversary in Sydney’s affections. Sydney is  just confused.
At the regatta Charlotte performs her job as Mr Parkers’ accountant. She collects  the takings  and records the receipts, while Lady Worcester, Eliza Campion and all the other members of Sanditon society watch Mr Stringer and his boat win the regatta in a close finish with the Parker brothers boat. Charlotte has a moment or two with Mr Stringer who is obviously in love with her, unawares to Charlotte. The last episode will bring that situation to a conclusion. It has to.

LADY DENHAM SAYS A FEW THINGS.

Lady Denham, has some of the best lines in this episode. She gives a heartfelt speech to her nephew and nieces explaining the corruption and misery money brings and lambasts the three of them using that brilliant word to describe their behaviour as, venality.

SIR EDWARD IS AT A LOSS

Sir Edward is seen wandering the streets of Sanditon staggering about drunk. He puts on a cheerful face to Esther when he brazenly announces, “We have won. It’s all ours.” He thinks Esther,as the only apparent heir  will include him in whatever she gets. He is mistaken of course. Esther rejects him. He has broken her heart and treated her abominably and she has now had her eyes opened to Edwards atrocious treatment of her. She completely  rejects and so Edward, that nasty snake in the grass, that pompous, vain, revolting character is laid low. Hurrah!! You feel like shouting.

WHAT ABOUT ESTHER DENHAM?

 But what has Lady Denham really in store for Esther? Maybe she has a cruel come down prepared for her part in all the subterfuge. There is some positive hope for her. Lord Babbington who at first always appeared as a ,”playboy,” and good time person has developed into a truly kind and caring person especially towards Esther. He loves her and professes that he can only imagine the terrible acts and  injustices her brother has brought to her. He has not given up on Esther. He approaches her again to marry him again. By the look on Esther’s face, a look of doubtful hope  she may be changing her ideas towards him. Again, the last episode will reveal all.

LADY WORCESTER RETURNS TO LONDON

Lady Worcester returns to London announcing she will return with a friend. Tom Parker can only assume her friend is The Prince Regent. However, I personally think Lady Worcester is far too much a sane, kind, intelligent and thoughtful  person for an alliance with that profligate. I will be disappointed in her if it is him. Surely not.  I wonder who she means though? And why is she so interested in Charlotte? We will see. This is getting interesting. To be truthful  this series of episodes  has been interesting for some time.
The episode ends with Eliza Campion returning to London apparently with Sydney and we are left with Charltote, a bereft, heart broken, expression on her face. Suddenly Sydney appears. He looks at Charlotte.
“I am only my truest self when I am with you.”
 End of episode. Role credits. Blimey! Is that good or not?



Episode 8

A WALK ON THE SANDS
Well, we are here, Episode 8 and we think everything is going to be resolved or , maybe not. Jane Austen would bring things to a gentle close and give our character’s hope and we as the readers would give our good wishes, in our hearts, for everybody’s future. But, what of Andrew Davies in this imagining of Sanditon?

The episode starts with a loan Charlotte Heywood walking along the wide flat yellow sands of Sanditon beach, a calm flat sea in the background and a benign blue sky above. WE almost wish we could enjoy the walk with her, but this is a contemplative moment for Charlotte and I would not wish to break her calm solitude.

Her walk takes her back to the centre of Sanditon town with passersby, carriages trundling along and Tom and Sydney Parker, standing in the street, contemplating Sanditon’s progress. A self-satisfied moment with some hope for the somewhat, at times, harassed Tom Parker. Tom is his ebullient self on greeting Charlotte but Sydney and Charlotte look coyly at each other, both holding the memories of their last meeting and what was said between them.

GEORGIANA
The scene changes to Charlotte visiting Georgiana in her rooms and the two talk about Otis and other matters when Sydney reappears to check up on his wayward ward. Charlotte and Sydney have a moment or two to talk and they both have Sydneys words to Charlotte in their minds, “ I only feel my true self when I am with you.”  We can sense the chemistry. They are evidently beginning to arouse strong emotions in each other.

THE STRINGERS
Mr Stringer announces to his father that he has received a letter informing him that a London architect will take him on as an apprentice. A choleric Old Mr Stringer is not impressed but Young Mr Stringer stands firm in ambitions.

LADY DENHAM AND ESTHER DENHAM

Lady Denham has turned into a tyrant towards Esther giving her orders and making demands of her.”Play the pianoforte for me.” “ Lady Denham you know I can’t play very well.” “Play it, and sing while you are at it.” This is getting  nasty. The old bat!! Suddenly Lord Babbington arrives and wants to pay his respects to Esther. Esther declines but Lady Denham makes her go for a carriage ride with Lord Babbington. The carriage ride begins with a frosty atmosphere.  As they ride along the beach Lord Babington suggest Esther takes the reins.Some sort of symbolism  for what is about to occur  I think. She takes over driving the horses and they race at breakneck speed across the sands. Esther shows joy and glee on her face and begins to enjoy herself. Lady  Denham reveals her past love life to Esther and how she lost her great love, Tolly because she wasn’t socially acceptable. All of a sudden the viewr begins to feel sympathy for Lady Denham as indeed by the thoughtful look on Esthers face, Esther does too. Esther is changing her view of Lord Babbington. When he proposes  again they have a discussion about her liberty. Will she still be able to make her own decisions? Will she be a kept woman? Lord Babbington reassures that he loves her because of her independent spirit and wouldn’t want her any other way. This is a discussion about the role and influence of women in a marriage. Some great 18th century social commentary. Esther, under the circumstances agrees to marrying Lord Babbington and they kiss, Hurray!. A good kiss, but, not as good as what is to come!! Wait for it now.

A WALK ALONG THE CLIFFS
We next see Sydney and Charlotte taking a cliff top walk. Charlotte purportedly is on her way to get a fitting for the dress she will wear at Sanditons summer ball. We think, great, another ball. We need one of those to complete this series. However as they walk Sydney realizes they are going away from the town but Charlotte doesn’t mind. She has that giddy look of love.They stand. They look into each others eyes. Their hearts are pounding. Our hearts are pounding. They both admit to not sleeping for thinking about what Sydney has said about Chalrotte making him feel his true self. They pause. They look into each others eyes some more. The camera gets a close up of their two faces getting closer and closer . They pause. They look. We look. Their lips are almost touching. Then!! The climax. They kiss. WOW!!! Elation all round.

THE SUMMER BALL

I feel exhausted writing this. Now, you must be aware, Sydney has not yet asked Charlotte to marry him. So let’s hold on a bit longer.
Charlotte and Mrs Parker arrive at the ball together. Charlotte can talk intimately with Mrs Parker. “How do you know when you are in love?” asks Charlotte. “With Mr Parker I just knew. You just know when you are.” The ball scene is a glittering and bright affair with chandeliers and candles. Tom Parker announces to the gathered throng, “ Let joy be unconfined.”

THE STRINGERS, FATHER AND SON ARGUE

Meanwhile Young Mr Stringer is getting ready for the ball but argues with his sick father about things like ambitons, improving yourself in society, his hopes for Charlotte Heywood. Young Mr Stringer is in love with her obviously and his coming apprenticeship. Old Mr Stringer is against all this ambition.They part on angry terms as Young Mr Parker goes to the ball. Left on his own, in a candle lit room, Old Mr Parker has an apparent heart attack falling onto the lit candles knocking them over. We can guess the consequences. The scene moves to the ball.

THE BALL AND SOME REPERCUSSIONS

Now things move along. Georgiana confronts her guardian Sydney over his intentions about Charlotte. She doesn’t like Sydney and berates him to Charlotte. This is not foreboding well it seems. Young Mr Stringer dances with Charlotte but she admits to him she is in love with Sydney. He actually takes it very gracefully. They talk about his future plans and apprenticeship and Charltote is very supportive and encouraging. So that little problem is over.Lady Denham and Esther arrive at the ball. Lord Babbington spies Esther and admits his love for her to his friendsa. HE is obviously besotted. They dance together. Everything is going swimmingly untl Sir Edward gatecrashes amongst shouting and remonstrating. He reveals his love for his,”sister,” and pleads for her to come with him. The whole assembled ball are aghast. They now know about their incestuous relationship. Sydney bundles Sir Edward out of the ballroom to who knows where. Esther looks pleadingly at Lord Babbington. He reiterates his undying love and pronounces he doesn’t care about her past. All is well. The ball continues. Lady Denham when asked about this revelation merely replies she has no opinion about it.

SANDITON ABLAZE

Sydney manages to dance with Charlotte and they of course have a balcony scene  looking down on the assembled dancers. No betrothal yet. We are kept on edge. When will they say the words?
An alarm goes up. Sanditon is aflame. The fire begun by Old Mr Stringer knocking over candles has spread. A whole terrace of houses is aflame. Buckets of water. Chains of people and an 18th century fire engine pulled by Sydney and the other men of the town arrives. They douse the flames but the terrace is destroyed. Tom and Sydney stand amongst the debris the following morning. Arthur,and Diana come to their sides. The Parkers resolve to rebuild Sanditon to an even better standard. The insurance will cover the money. AGH!! The insurance. Tom has not got round to insuring the buildings of Sanditon. Diana pledges her endowment and so does Arthur. They are unselfish for all their irritating quirks but then Sydney enquires how much debt needs to be repaid. £80, 000. “Cor blimey governor!!” I’m speechless. Gloom and doom hovers over the group.

DECISIONS ARE MADE

We are nearly at the end now, I assure you. Arthur and Diana return to London.  Arthur vowing to be a bachelor for the rest of his life, to the relief somewhat of his sister. Dr Fuchs has taken up residence in Harley Street. They intend to visit him. often. Sydney and Tom request a weeks leeway from Lady Denham who demands that her investment be returned.Sydney goes off once more on a quest for finances. Charlotte is left wondering what is going to happen. Sydney returns. He has acquired the necessary investment to cover Tom’s costs. All is cheerfulness. Sydney and Charlotte are left to talk. Sydney looks grave. Charlotte, “ What’s wrong Sydney?” Sydney reveals he has asked Eliza Campion to marry him. She will provide the money to save Sanditon. OH, MY, God!!! Charlotte is devastated. Sydney looks a broken man.
We do have a joyous wedding though. Lord Babbington and Esther Denham marry to great celebrations. And the assembled throng look exceedingly happy including Charlotte , Sydney and Eliza who has arrived back in Sanditon to claim Sydney. I suppose they are being happy for the newly married couple.

 THE END OR NOT THE END? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Charlotte decides to return home to her family at Willingden. And at the end we see her riding in a coach across the cliff tops. But wait, suddenly Sydney rides up and stops the coach. Charlotte and Sydney talk and he professes his undying love but he must marry Eliza. Charlotte is heart broken as she travels on. We are heartbroken for her and Sydney is a mess. The END.

So many strands unfinished. Georgiana and Otis, what happens between those two? What will happen eventually between Charlotte and Sydney? Surely Eliza must die in some horrible circumstances to leave Sydney eventually free? Will Sanditon be rebuilt? Will Tom Parker eventually get a settled life? Will Mr Stringer become the greatest architect ever known? What will happen to Lady Denham? And, what of the dastardly Sir Edward and Clara Brereton? I can see her running a brothel in Covent Garden but that’s just my opinion. And whatever happened to Lady Worcester who befriended Charlotte and promised to return?  So many things. Yes, I know, there must be a second series. .Andrew Davies can’t leave us like that. Can he?










Tuesday, 17 September 2019

SANDITON the first four episodes. HOT STUFF



Charlotte Heywood played by Rose Williams.

Episode 1 of Andrew Davis’s Sanditon an unfinished novel by Jane Austen. How much is it Jane Austen and how much Andrew Davis? That is the question. I read Sanditon a few days before the airing of this first episode to remind myself of Jane’s plot strands and initial characterisations. This first episode began. The countryside setting wasn’t as I imagined. There was no narrow country lane impassable by the carriage the Parkers were travelling in. I suppose the main plot features were there, the carriage accident, the care provided by the Heywood family, a  blossoming friendship between the two families,   the Parkers in search of a surgeon in the area, the offer to Charlotte Heywood of a visit to  Sanditon. Much was missing though. The friendly effusive Mr Parker revealed a dark side in the novel. He hated and loathed a rival resort called Brinshore. He provides a hellish description. No mention of such place in this episode. I would have thought the rivalry would have been a powerful theme to pursue. Jane Austen created a tension and contrast between the old and the new, the traditional social structures and the new fluid structures a place like Sanditon might produce. None of this contrast. Some characters are missing. One of the Parker sisters doesn’t exist. Sydney Parker has no servant to drive. Lady Denham appears to have lost one of her three families, The Hollis’s. The Breretons and the Denhams do feature. Some of the characterization is wrong. Sir Edward Denham, who was a fool and snobbish beyond belief in Jane Austens Sanditon is turned into a wicked, cunning lothario and hell bent on finding a wealthy heiress at all costs. His sister too has evil intents it appears. In this episode an overtly sexual encounter is witnessed by Charlotte Heywood between Sir Edward and Clara Brereton. Jane Austen would never have written such a thing. Many of the characters are recognizable as exaggerated examples of Austen characters from other novels. Sydney Parker is a harsher more boorish Darcy. Charlotte Heywood is an even more opinionated and more intelligent version of Elizabeth Bennet. Sir Edward and Miss Denham have become even more wicked versions of Henry and Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park.Andrew Davis is taking his characters to extremes, especially the wicked Lady Denham. Jane Austen was more subtle. Maybe Davis thinks people today are unable to understand subtlety. Who knows? And most of the male lead characters get their kit off and go swimming. All in all I was disappointed. Perhaps because I know and enjoy the way Jane Austen writes. Andrew Davis has driven a coach and horses through all that. What will happen next?

Chalotte Heywood and Sydney Parker walk on the beach.


Episode 2 of Sanditon and Andrew Davis has thrown ALL caution to the wind. 

Lady Denham thinks Charlotte is very intelligent. Mr Tom Parker looks at her quizzically and makes her his company accountant. She herself has a second career in mind of course, as the architect of Sanditon.How intelligent can you get? She announces she doesn't want to get married. She stares down Sydney and tells him where to get off with his boorish behaviour. She plays the Good Samaritan and saves poor Miss Lambe from jumping off a cliff and commiting suicide. Miss Lambe, has by this point, been treated abominably because of her colour. There are lots of racist innuendos and comments. Thats Lady Denham again. A series of sharp, verbal exchanges takes place,back and forth, up and down and all around, between Sir Edward, his sister and Clara Brereton about ,"hand jobs." Clara, knows a thing or two. There is some repartee in appreciation of a pineapple. “Don't touch my pineapple. Leave my pineapple alone," Lady Denham again. The pineapple is rotten to the heart, squirming with worms and stinking. A few characters do come to mind. And, if that wasn't enough, a completely naked Sydney Parker emerges from the sea, ( what happened to the wet shirt? Darn it. Too much trouble.) in front of Charlotte who turns her back, gamely tries to make conversation and then decides she has had enough and runs away. Cue, shaky hand held camera action running alongside Charlotte with some panting sounds and blurriness to boot. Blimey. That was exhausting. BUT, it wasn't Jane Austen.



Miss Georgiana Lambe

Episode 3 Can we now forget Jane Austen in connection with this series of Sanditon? Almost, but not quite. There are echoes of Austen still apparent.  

So, in this episode the themes Andrew Davis has set out in the previous two programmes continue and are developed. Building work continues of the new Sanditon, although it is really the Old Sanditon that appears to be being refurbished and rebuilt. Mr Stringer, is desperate for more workers and new building equipment to help him construct the town. Tom Parker is as enthusiastic about Sanditon as ever although the dark undercurrent of possible failure and bankruptcy looms making him a haunted man. Mrs Parker is evidently worried about her husband. Tom Parker asks his brother Sydney to request more funds from their bankers in London, £2000, possibly £3000. That is a lot of money in the early 1800s.

 Old Mr Stringer, the father of the younger Mr Stringer is badly injured in an accident when stones from the building work fall on his legs. Charlotte of course does her Anne Elliot bit and takes charge to the admiration of Sydney.  A German Doctor, Doctor Maximillian Fuchs, or in Mr Parkers parlance, Dr Fox, performs an operation, resetting the leg. Dr Fuchs, sorry, Dr Fox , here in England the innuendos are legion with a name like that, persuaded by Mr Parker to come to Sanditon from nearby Worthing, has invented a wonder machine, a shower and bath unit driven by a steam engine. The Industrial Revolution gets to Sanditon.

 Clara Brereton volunteers to try this shower bath in front of a skeptical Lady Denham, a cynical Sir Edward and Esther Denham and a hopeful Mr Parker and his family. Mr Parker thinks the introduction of Dr Fox to Sanditon will be a great incentive for more people to visit and stay.Hidden behind a surrounding curtain Clara performs a gruesome self harming act deliberately burning her arm on the side of the steam engine. A plot to gain Lady Denhams continued sympathy in her fight with Sir Edward and his sister Esther who are out to discredit her and remove her as a rival to Lady Denhams wealth.Esther Denham wonders how she could suffer so much pain to gain her ends and digs her claw like nails into Claras injured arm. There is an element of sadism  in this episode. Clara explains quite calmly, “This is nothing compared to what I have endured in the past.” We begin to wonder seriously about her past history. A brutal scene. 

Diana and Arthur Parker suddenly become hypochondriacs, a missing element so far, as they hurry vigorously across the cliff tops to visit the said doctor at Lady Denhams house listing their ailments loudly as they go , dry skin, the ague, canker, goiter and the list is endless. But how healthy they look. Charlotte Heywood and Sydney meet in the street and admit to each other that they have perhaps misunderstood each other in the past and both make their apologies,  humbly to each other. Echoes of Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.There is a glint  in both their eyes. Any nudity in this episode you might ask? None at all . Actually that is not quite true. At the sight of Sydney, Charlotte has a rather erotic flashback. 

Miss Lambe, who has apparently recovered from her suicidal thoughts  is behaving as wayward as ever in fighting against the restraints put on her. She appears to have a secret lover. She wears a locket around her neck with his picture displayed.  One thing I don’t understand yet is how Sydney Parker is her guardian until she reaches the age of majority. A twenty eight year old man, the guardian of a seventeen year old girl has not been explained yet. Obviously further plot development is needed. And I am beginning to have a theory about the said Miss Lambe, a very wealthy heiress with a fortune of £100,000. But ,no more about that now. Let’s wait and see.


Dr Fuchs/Fox discussing illnesses with Diana and Arthur Parker.


Episode 4 Wow! Half way through already. An episode of surprises and some shocking stuff.
Miss Georgiana Lambe receives a letter which lights up  her face and her eyes too. Soft and yearning, comes to mind. But more of that later.

The Parkers, Diana and Arthur, take  delight and are positively gleeful at their imagined sicknesses. They make a sport out of self diagnosis. Dr Fuchs or Fox, whichever you prefer, is being driven to despair.
 Old Stringer, still recovering from his leg injury tries to lecture his son, Young Stringer, about his ambitons to be an architect. Old Stringer thinks we  should all keep our place in this world and be happy with our  lot, while his son is ambitious and wants to progress and climb in the world.  Young Stringer has designed  a Chinese pagoda  to be the centre point of the new Sanditon. His father derides his ambition and, rather upsettingly,his son  burns his design on the fire. A sad moment.

Charlotte, who has been commissioned by Sydney Parker to keep watch over his ward, Miss Lambe, while he is away. Arranges a picnic for Georgiana. Miss Lambe’s governess is against such a thing. How common and demeaning.to be out in the open where passersby could see her. Is this a sneaky reference to something in the first episode? No, it couldn’t possibly be. Charlotte is persuasive and is not averse to lying, announcing that Mr and Mrs Parker will attend the picnic too. The picnic is permitted to go ahead. At first only Charlotte and Georgiana are the sole participants in the said picnic when suddenly a Mr Otis Molyneaux appears . This is Georgianas secret lover. Remember the locket in the last episode and the letter at the start of this one. Charlotte is compromised but tags a long.

Lord Babbington continues to persue Esther Denham by way of love letters even though she has aggressively spurned him. Letters are big in this episode,

Clara Brereton spies Lord Edward Denham and his sister having a moment that could be construed as having incestuous overtones as he strokes her kneck and tightens her stays tightly causing, apparently, pleasurable pain. Clara confronts Esther over this. The excuse is that they do not have the same biological parents. Brother and sister discuss their forbidden love. He seems less attached than she is. You can tell by the look on his face.Esther  is definitely  in love with her brother. You just need to look at her face. All sorts of trouble ahead can be envisaged. A very clever musical moment when Clara plays the harpsichord for the entertainment of Lady Denham. Esther is employed turning the pages of music. Clara, rather unkindly,  goads her by referring to that certain moment by referencing Italian musical terms,largemento, allegretto, mosso, allegro, crescendo. Passionate, stiring stuff, which in the end causes Esther to explode. Not literally of course. Oh Dear Me!!

 Lady Denham continues to help Lord Edward pursue wealthy brides. She has drawn up a list. It looks as though Esther, in the end, will have to plump for Lord Babbington.

Sydney returns just as Charlotte is giving a demeaning impersonation of him to Otis and Miss Lambe in the street. Rose Williams could take up a new career as an impersonator. She is very good. Sydney is far from amused at being ridiculed and totally incensed at the sight of Otis who he appears to know well has previously banned from ever seeing Georgiana. Suggestions of Sydney having connections with Antigua and mention of slavery and slaves. Reference to Otis being aslave in the past and being made a freed man by somebody, unknown as of yet. Otis is hurt by Sydney’s attitude towards him and devastated that he may never see his beloved Georgiana again. Otis and Sydney have obviously had virile encounters before. The plot thickens and we wonder What? If? When? and How? and , perhaps, Why?

Charlotte, in her feisty combative mood loses her cool with Sydney and he berates her. Quite a verbal battle in public. Dislike, revulsion, misunderstanding, are a few words that come to mind.Their relationship takes a dive beyond repair, well, maybe.

On the other hand, Young Mr Stringer and Charlotte obviously like each other and respect each other and have a friendly stroll together on the beach. If Sydney is going to triumph by the end of episode 8 this can only be a red herring, surely.

Tom Parker is in trouble. Sydney has failed to acquire extra funding for his Sanditton project. Poor Tom Parker is sinking into a deep depression and he is also compounding his problems by lieing to his wife and making out that everything is fine. There will be tears, I can assure you.

Definitely NO male nudity in this one. You can only take a,”dick joke,” so far because after a while it is bound  to wilt. The joke I mean.

Actually, and I am being truthful , this could all make a great novel. Just not a Jane Austen novel. Bring on episode 5.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

SANDITON ( an unfinished novel by Jane Austen) is coming to our screens. What might we see?



Sanditon first look: Jane Austen's last ever novel has ...
Rose Williams plays Charlotte Heywood.

Andrew Davies, the adaptor of Pride and Prejudice for television back in 1995 with Colin Firth doing his Darcy stint, has adapted Jane Austen’s final and unfinished novel, Sanditon, for ITV as an eight part production. Davies has taken the plot themes and characters introduced by Austen in her unfinshed novel and extended and ,”finished,” the story in his own inimitable way. The first episode is being shown on ITV on 25th August at 9pm here in Britain.

Here are some of the themes that Andrew Davies is presented with by the novel.

The unthinking enthusiasm of the Parkers leads  to surprising results..The story starts with an accident. Mr and Mrs Parker are overturned in their carriage along a narrow country lane. They have persuaded their reluctant driver to take them off their route to visit Willingden, a place Mr Parker is convinced he will meet a doctor who has advertised his services. Mr Parker is in search of a physician to be employed at his new sea side resort of Sanditon. Mr Parker,  has mistaken Willingden for Greater Willingden . The  accident leads to their meeting with the Heywood family who are a farming family located in Willingden. The Heywoods take care of the Parkers over ,"a whole fortnight," and nurse Mr Parker with his twisted ankle. The Parkers invite Charlotte Heywood, the 22 years old eldest daughter to accompany them to Sanditon. 

There is a moment, in which Mr Parker discusses with Mr Heywood the great benefits of Sanditon as opposed to a rival resort, Brinshore. If Mr Parkers words are to go by, Brinshore, is a terrible place. His eccentric and damning attack on Brinshore makes you wonder about his judgement. An unattractive trait in a man who appears to be friendly and generous in character. Some dark undercurrent within the story perhaps?

Jane Austen was accutely aware of the world changing around her. Sanditon is a discourse to some extent about, “Civilization,” developing by shifting from the comfortable rural past, where people are born, live and die in one place, (The Heywards born and bred and residing in Willingden for 57 years) to Sanditon with bracing sea air, invigorating bathing, social fluidity,  a place that people  visit  on a seasonal basis. A world where people move and socialise in new ways.The railways were already begun by 1817. Swansea in South Wales had its first steam railway in 1807. The seaside was becoming accessible to everybody. I hope Andrew Davies agrees?

sanditon-theo

Theo James plays Sydney Parker

One central theme to the story is the rich Lady Denham’s three families, firstly the Breretons, her birth family, who supplied her with a large fortune, secondly the Hollis’s, the family of her first and property owning husband and lastly the somewhat impoverished family of her aristocratic and last husband, Sir Harry Denham from whom she takes her prized name and title. Members of these three families vie for her favours and her inheritance. She is aware of their efforts to ingratiate themselves. Jane Austen describes her as uneducated and mean and sordid, a real monster by the sounds of it. A number of story strands immediately suggest themselves about Lady Denham alone.

We can always come back to , of course,   the enthusiastic dreamer Mr Parker, the instigator of Sanditon, his ineffectual wife, his hyperchondriac family , their over energetic  and mistake imbued efforts at grandiose schemes, and in Mr  Parkers case his naive  overinflated opinion  of Sanditon. 

How do you attract people to a new resort such as Sanditon? Much comedic value can be derived from this. The Parkers appear to employ, word of mouth. Mr Parkers sisters, Susan and Diana and his brother Arthur  by talking incessantly to all and sundry attract some possible visitors but, true to the Parker family traits, Diana Parker, in her enthusiastic rush at things and lack of sober reflection is often mistaken. She doesn’t pay attention properly.She thinks she has, through contacts and personal persuasion enticed two large families to visit Sanditon but the two families turn out to be one and the same family and a much smaller group than expected of four women, a teacher and her three young boarding school pupils from Camberwell.

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A walk on Sanditon beach.

The possible marriage scenarios are interesting. Sir Edward Denham, , the inheritor of the baronetcy since Sir Harry Denham died, needs to marry into wealth. Lady Denham does not intend to leave him any of her wealth and has said as much to him. There are no available wealthy spinsters to choose from  at the start. At first he  tries to seduce  the poor Clara Bereton, Lady Denhams young relation who is residing with Lady Denham at Sanditon House. Clara is all too  aware of his character and at first doesn’t want to entice him. A mystery begins when  Charlotte Heywood and \Mrs Parker on a visit to Lady Denham spies Clara and Sir Edward sitting in a field, sitting together at very close quarters. One wonders what could this mean? Who is going to inherit Lady Denhams wealth is so far a mystery to all and many maneuverings are open to speculation. A rich 17 year old, Miss Lambe from the West Indies arrives with the school from Camberwell. How will she impact on the society of Sanditon and Sir Edwards ambitions? Compared to other Austen novels where the characters are settled in one place, often from birth, Sanditon is a new more fluid society that changes almost daily with new arrivals and new departures. A society in flux.

Jane Austen was always  a firm believer in the power of reading and especially novel reading. In Sanditon, however, she has a go at the more pretentious readers of novels. I can imagine the scene. Sir Edward Denham is a ridiculous character. He makes a long winded verbose analysis of his reading habits and condones strong passions, intense feelings and human grandeur as the epitome of great writing. He goes on and on using words he doesn’t necessarily know the meaning of. Charlotte Heywood brings him down to earth after his long and florid descriptions with the simple statement, “If I understand you right- our taste in novels is not at all the same.” At this point they parted. Jane Austen is definitely in cynical mode.

'Sanditon' on PBS: How it portrays Jane Austen's first ...
Crystal Clarke plays the wealthy young West Indian heiress.

 Who might the intelligent and slightly priggish Charlotte Parker team up with? We are left at the end of the piece with the arrival of Sydney, another  brother of Mr Parker. Mr and Mrs Parker have spoken much about Sydney. He makes fun of his hypochondriac sisters and brother and by making fun of their moans a groans and about their ailments they describe in their letters Sydney often provides Mr and Mrs Parker with a guilty amusement. They, in turn, describe Sydney as , idle and saucy. But then Mr Parker's descriptions of the rest of his family has not turned out quite as he describes. His sickly siblings are anything but a lot of the time. They think themselves ill but as soon as they are distracted by some mission or task they appear to have lots of energy, vigour and health, so maybe Sydney will not be as at first suggested. If his arrival has anything to go by he has the possible makings of a Jane Austen male character worthy of  Charlotte Heywoods attentions.Charlotte and Mrs Parker meet him on their way to visit Lady Denham. He  appears out of the mist driving his own  servant ,”in a very neat carriage.” which at first could be anything from a gig to a phaeton, from one horse to four. Those who know their carriages will understand the social meaning of each type. And driving his own servant too?  Another example of society turned on its head perhaps?   It was a very friendly meeting in the road as his carriage stops beside them for a moment and his sister inlaw ,"seemed," to like him. So we shall see. He announces that he is only going to stay for two or three days in Sanditon and informs them that he had come from Eastbourne. Is this a comment on Sanditon in that he would prefer Eastbourne ? And, of course what and who has he left behind in Eastbourne to where he must return?

Some of the other topics Andrew Davies might explore further, sea bathing, libraries, walks along the terrace, Charlotte Heywood's two sisters, near to her age and all her many younger siblings featured at the start of the novel. There is  Mr Parker's  search for a resident physician to be employed in Sanditon. Then there is the pull from the past, Charlotte Heywood's home in Willingden, the Parkers former comfortable farm house located inland in a dip in the ground near the old Sanditon village. The development of the old Sanditon village itself appears to be going apace as opposed to the struggling new Sanditon on the cliff tops, and so on and so forth.  Andrew Davies, save us from our ignorance.


"Trafalgar House, on the most elevated spot on the down was a light elegant building, standing in a small lawn with a very young plantation round it, about a hundred yards from the brow of steep, but not very lofty cliff..." Sanditon by Jane Austen.

The above picture is Tenby , in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, a place Jane Austen knew and which in the 18th century was a famous seaside resort. Sir William Paxton, a local  politician and merchant banker, invested heavily in the town. In 1802 he started building many fine residences in terraces along the cliff top and within the town itself. It had seawater baths for invalids, bathing machines lined the beaches, an assembly rooms and a small theatre were built in the town.  John Wesley, the great Methodist preacher preached in Tenby during the 1790s and George Elliot came to stay in 1856. A blue plaque on the outside of an elegant Georgian terraced house,overlooking Castle Beach, names, Admiral Lord Nelson, along with Lord and Lady Hamilton as residents during a  trip to Pembrokeshire visiting Lord Hamilton's Pembrokeshire estates. Charles Norris (1779-1859), the English Topographical etcher lived beside Tenby harbour in a small cottage. He is famous for creating etchings of the Pembrokeshire countryside but especially of Tenby itself. George Austen , Jane's father, had a copy of Norris's etchings among his own collection of books at Steventon Rectory. Jane would most certainly have looked at them. Mr Parker would only have been too delighted to attract those people to Sanditon. Sir William Paxton was a man instep with Mr Tom Parker, without a doubt.