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‘Sanditon’ 2 shines in this golden era of period dramas

Crystal Clark and Rosie Graham as Georgiana Lambe and Charlotte Heywood, respectively, in a scene from Sanditon 2. Picture: BBC Studios

Crystal Clark and Rosie Graham as Georgiana Lambe and Charlotte Heywood, respectively, in a scene from Sanditon 2. Picture: BBC Studios

Published May 15, 2022


Period dramas have become the preferred genre of viewers, especially with the proliferation of content on streaming platforms.

“Downton Abbey” definitely helped with heightening the appeal of such offerings. As did “Outlander”, “Dickinson” and, more recently, “The Gilded Aged”.

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And, of course, Shonda Rhimes took it a step further with her deliciously scandalous tales of the Regency era in “Bridgerton”.

The latest season attracted plenty of eyeballs with the casting of Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran as sisters Kate and Edwina Sharma, respectively.

Rather than pander to the prejudiced mindset of the times, Rhimes, along with creator and executive producer Chris Van Dusen, flipped the script and had some fun with the non-discriminatory casting.

In one of his interviews, Dusen made it clear that they went to great lengths to pull down racial divisions by introducing a society that was fully integrated with “this reimagined world”.

“Sanditon” was another pleasant arrival on screens.

The historical drama centred on Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) moving to Sanditon, a quaint fishing village positioning itself as an attractive seaside destination to visitors and possibly new residents, too.

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A spirited individual, Charlotte finds herself fascinated by this high-society world while also drawn into a romantic conundrum.

In the second instalment, Charlotte returns to Sanditon – accompanied by her younger sister Alison, played by Rosie Graham.

Ahead of the show’s premiere, I got to chat with the 22-year-old Scottish actress.

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Graham was chuffed to be joining the new season even though her character was introduced – albeit briefly – at the start of season one and was played by a different actress.

She added: “When I got the audition, I did my research and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there is already an Alison Heywood’. It was exciting to join the cast who are returning.”

Having caught a few episodes of the show, she familiarised herself with the tone of the show.

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She revealed: “It helped me understand the world. Alison had heard all about Sanditon as Charlotte had been writing to her. This summer it is her (Alison) time to sort of enter the society.

Alison Heywood (Rosie Graham), Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) and Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke) in Sanditon 2. Picture: BBC Studios.

“It’s such an exciting venture as she’s grown up in a small town in a big family in a very humble village on a farm. To enter this Regency is the height of sophistication in Alison’s eyes.

“So she sort of comes to this town, hoping to make the most of this summer. She definitely has a goal to meet and find a husband – that is the true route to all happiness according to all the romance novels that she reads.”

In the six-part season, she finds herself befriending Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clark), who is part of the upper class. Although, Georgiana’s spirited views fly in the face of a submissive society.

This season, the sisters find themselves befriending Colonel Francis Lennox (Tom Weston-Jones), Captain Declan Fraser (Frank Blake) and Captain William Carter (Maxim Ays).

And Georgiana attracts the attention of Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos), an artist.

While Alison is enamoured by life in Sanditon, Charlotte, jaded by love, decides to take up a position as a governess to the daughter and tomboy niece of the town recluse – Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes).

Weighing in on the charm of period offerings, Graham shared: “I always grew up loving period dramas and it was definitely a bit of a bucket list thing to do. I think it’s two things in that there is real escapism because it is not what we know it to be and yet we can draw so many parallels as well.

“And although there is such glitz and glamour in the costume and sets, just the world and how it looks, there is also much that the audience relates to as well: first love, unrequited love and, I guess, the perils of dating.

“But I think it is charming escapism of seeing it take place at a time when there wasn’t any Tinder and texting. You had to use different methods. I think it is interesting. People like this longing in period dramas. The dos and don’ts.

“There were such rules. It is sort of fighting against human urges and instincts and following proper society rules and having guardians on dates and writing letters and waiting until marriage to kiss.”

She added: “Not forgetting the costumes and the balls. There is so much charm. Even like the carriages and horses. I wish there was more of this today. Maybe it is a bit of an antisocial world today with social media. This is charming, dramatic escapism.”

In the latest season of “Sanditon”, the feministic trope comes through strongly. However, fans will enjoy wallowing in the troubles of its characters as unhappy marriages, rejection and infertility become talking points.

“Sanditon” 2 is currently streaming on BritBox.