AAP Entertainment

Austen’s unfinished novel heads for screen

By AAP Newswire

Jane Austen's unfinished final novel, Sanditon, is being developed as a lavish period epic with Andrew Davies, who wrote the BBC's acclaimed 1990s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, writing the eight-part series.

Austen penned the first 11 chapters of Sanditon months before her death in 1817. It follows Charlotte Heywood, a spirited and impulsive woman who moves from her rural home to Sanditon, a sleepy fishing village attempting to reinvent itself as a seaside resort.

Heywood's spiky relationship with the humorous, charming Sidney Parker is a key part of the story, which has "a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing," said Davies.

"It's a rich, romantic, family saga built upon the foundations Jane Austen laid," said Polly Hill, head of drama at ITV, which will air the series in Britain.

"There is no one better to adapt her unfinished novel than Andrew, who has an incredible track record for bold and original adaptations."

Executive producer Davies, whose other credits include War and Peace, paid tribute to the source material.

"Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died - but what a fragment," he said. "It's been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop Sanditon into a TV drama for a modern audience."

BBC Studios will distribute the series internationally with filming to get under way early next year.