*Sanditon season 3 spoilers below*
The last season’s dramatic pub scene involving his character’s niece Augusta (Eloise Webb) and local rake Sir Edward Denham (Jack Fox) after they attempt to elope has been revealed by Sanditon star Ben Lloyd-Hughes.
The historical drama, based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel of the same name, has long evolved beyond the framework that the great author established, with new characters (like Lloyd-Hughes’ Alexander Colbourne) and fresh plotlines packed in everywhere.
As Sanditon comes to a close, a homosexual romance is presented, which is a first for an Austen-related TV drama.
The choice to show Colbourne and Sanditon lead Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) as they hurry out to try and rescue Augusta from what they consider to be a foolish mistake – all while pussyfooting around their own relationship – is also extremely unexpected.
It’s the kind of scenario that happens “off page” in Austen’s writings, with characters only acknowledging it (and only briefly) afterwards.
Lloyd-Hughes revealed that he ’loved’ the ‘amazing’ tavern scene, with it even ranking as one of his favourites – especially because it shows how far Colbourne has come when he doesn’t react at all as Augusta expects.
Rather than seeing red over his niece explicitly violating him by continuing her connection – or proclaiming her destroyed – he is willing to rescue her and strive to rebuild her image.
‘I hope it comes across, that element of it finally dropping in – it’s completely brand-new thoughts [for Colbourne]. I think he probably had on this long journey to get there this pre prepared speech of what he would say, and how he was going to say, and how he was going to take Augusta home and b****ck her essentially,’ the 35-year-old star explained.
‘What’s lovely to play is that it feels like it’s in that moment he realises it’s everything that Charlotte has been saying to him – everything that Charlotte says to him just before they enter the tavern – and it’s dropping in. At that time, he realises what’s going on in the lesson and how best to handle it,’ he recalled.
Lloyd-Hughes also said he relished how ‘exciting’ it was ‘to play with both speaking to Augusta, but also subtly to Miss Heywood’ – and that’s not to mention Fox’s character of Denham ‘as this kind of elephant in the room and not knowing how to deal with that’.
‘There were so many things at play, but I think it’s kind of a poignant and powerful moment for him – and I hope that comes across,’ he added.
Discussing Sanditon’s specific diving into displaying the intricacies of teenage Augusta’s almost-seduction at the hands of the older Denham at the bar, the actor feels that having what’s generally ‘off page’ in Austen represented onscreen for the programme is quite significant.
‘It probably must feel, watching it, quite voyeuristic to see that because in Pride and Prejudice, for instance, you would just hear about it later on and it would be this unknown heroic act,’ he mused.
However, the Industry and The Crown star is quite clear on what he believes the reasons were behind that groundbreaking decision to show the full sequence.
‘I think it’s because you see everything – the show is so through Charlotte’s eyes. In a way, you see all the characters and the story so much through her that you needed to go on the journey with her as the audience to really witness it,’ he pointed out.
Lloyd-Hughes was unaware of elopement-related scenes being only heard about and not shown in Austen during production, but admits that it’s ‘absolutely’ clear in hindsight.
From an acting standpoint, he appreciates the moment as well.
‘I think it’s great for the audience to have the satisfaction of seeing Colbourne in that moment change and discover, rather than hearing about later on.
‘It’s probably one of the moments where the writers could actually take some poetic license and say, well, Jane Austen might not have done it this way, but we can – and our more modern audience now can really see that.’
Lloyd-Hughes was overjoyed to ‘really walk through all the levels in the room’ rather than just hear about it.
The actor (quite literally) galloped in on his horse to rescue the day as the substitute new character for Theo James’s Sidney Parker, who left when Sanditon was cancelled after only one season.
Before commencing on a pretty intensive filming schedule in 2021, when seasons one and two were filmed back-to-back, he knew he would be the hero and get the lady at the end.
Lloyd-Hughes reveals’so much’ about what he’ll miss about Colbourne and his experience portraying him.
‘I think for an actor like me, just playing such a big juicy role was such a privilege – and so I’ll miss that big juicy role – but I just loved his journey and his decency and stoicism and his huge sense of integrity, but also with a twinkle and a sense of humour,’ Lloyd-Hughes shared.
‘It was that kind of ‘if Carlsberg made characters’ [referring to the brand’s famous ‘probably the best lager in the world slogan] … it felt like such a gift for me that I think I’ll always look back on that so fondly.’
When it comes to his dazzling outfit of tailcoats, cravats, and top hats, he acknowledges costume designer Lauren Miller’s ‘excellent’ job.
‘I think I miss them as a whole, but I don’t think I miss them in day-to-day life, especially when you have kids etc. I’m not sure that the knee-high boots and those dithery trousers with those little buttons, which can’t be dry cleaned or put in the wash, those probably aren’t the most appropriate for my day-to-day life!’ he confessed.
‘But in terms of the vibe and the energy that they brought, it was a job that just kept on giving.’
Lloyd-Hughes also mentioned the lack of practicality in bringing any mementos off set during his time on Sanditon.
‘People keep asking me if I stole anything from set and the answer is no, just because what would I steal that I could actually benefit from in real life?
‘And this is where I open this cupboard [behind] and there’s a huge array of Sanditon gifts and they all fall on top of me and I’m like, “Aargh! I don’t know where these came from!”’
Sanditon season 3 is available to stream now in full on ITVX.
Source My Celebrity Life.