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‘Sanditon’ Season 3 Review – A Feel-Good Final Series for the Fans

Say goodbye to Charlotte, Georgiana, and the other Sanditon characters with the third and final season on PBS.


Sanditon Season 3 Review featured image with Charlotte and Georgiana
(L-R); Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS); Georgiana Lambe (CRYSTAL CLARKE). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt (C) Red Planet (Sanditon 3) Ltd

Sanditon (loosely inspired by Jane Austen’s unfinished novel) has been a polarizing addition to the period drama fandom, from the surprising steaminess in the first season to the abrupt cliffhanger to the show’s cancellation without a happily ever after.

And then on to the loss of the leading man, Theo James, diverging opinions about the new love interest for our heroine Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) in Season 2, Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), not to mention some fandom racism, and the changeover from Andrew Davies as the head writer to Justin Young. And so on and so forth.

And yet, Sanditon sparked a movement and added to the pop culture conversation. No matter where your opinion lies about the show, for period drama fans, it became must-see entertainment.

While I imagine not all fans will be happy with the show’s denouement (most will love it), Sanditon helped (along with shows like Bridgerton) push for more diversity in period dramas, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I will miss Sanditon and all its lovable characters, witty zingers, swoony romances, and gorgeous seaside scenery. The show may not have risen to the level of quality one might expect from Jane Austen (this series is not really an adaptation, after all) – but it was a fun, enjoyable series full of escapism and romance.


I’ve waited patiently to post my thoughts on the new show since I had press access to early screeners, but I wanted to wait and post my review until after the show was released to the fans on PBS because I have much to discuss with my fellow Sanditon fans.

And yes, there will be spoilers in my review below. So, I don’t recommend reading my review until you’ve finished the entire third season.


Colbourne and Charlotte at a dance
Photo: Alexander Colbourne (BEN LLOYD-HUGHES); Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS). Credit: PBS/Red Planet

Set amid the romantic intrigues of an English seaside resort in the early 1800s, the MASTERPIECE series has been called “a balmy retreat” (Salon), and “perfect escapist fare” (Indiewire). True to themes from other Austen novels, the first two seasons raised and dashed various matrimonial prospects for the heroines, played by Rose Williams (Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris) and Crystal Clarke (Empire of Light).

Williams appears as Charlotte Heywood, a young woman from the country whom fate has thrust into the social scene in Sanditon, which is vying to become the go-to spa for fashionable aristocrats and gentry. Although her father intends her to marry local farmer Ralph Starling (Cai Brigden, Summer of Rockets), Charlotte has attracted the attention of some of Sanditon’s most eligible bachelors – among them the enigmatic Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes, The Crown), a landowner with a mysterious past.

Clarke’s character, Georgiana Lambe, faces an entirely different problem. A mixed-race heiress from the West Indies, she can’t trust any of her suitors, because in all probability they are only interested in her fortune. The two women bond over these courtship dilemmas as well as their resolve to forge their own destinies.

The returning cast includes Flora Mitchell as Colbourne’s tomboyish young daughter, Leonora, and Eloise Webb (The Queen’s Gambit) as his rebellious niece, Augusta, who falls for a questionable admirer. Kris Marshall (Death in Paradise) reprises his role as Sanditon’s tireless promoter, Tom Parker, joined by Kate Ashfield (A Confession) as his principled wife, Mary, and Turlough Convery (Les Misérables) as his ebullient brother Arthur.

Also back are Anne Reid (Last Tango in Halifax) as the imperious Lady Denham; Jack Fox (Cheaters) as her dissolute nephew, Edward; and Sophie Winkleman (The Chronicles of Narnia) as Charlotte’s high-society friend, Lady Susan, who happens to be the king’s mistress.

Romantic possibilities this season are enhanced by new cast members, including Emma Fielding (Cranford) as the financially distressed Lady Montrose, who arrives in Sanditon to snare matches for her grown children: Lydia (Alice Orr-Ewing, The Theory of Everything), who is an independent-minded young woman; and Lord Henry Montrose (Edward Davis, Emma), a duke whose title alone is an attractive selling point, if he is perhaps less suitable in other ways. James Bolam (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner) plays Rowleigh Pryce, a crusty investor whom Tom Parker is courting to bankroll a new hotel in Sanditon, subject to Landy Denham’s approval, of course. It turns out that Pryce and Lady Denham share a very interesting past.

And there is Liam Garrigan (The Pillars of the Earth), who appears as Alexander Colbourne’s brother, Samuel, a London attorney whose legal help is crucial as the plot approaches its climax. An eligible bachelor himself, Samuel gets caught up in the Sanditon marriage market. Intrigued by this former sleepy village which has become a place of hidden passions, he eyes a new female acquaintance and muses, “There are so many interesting things going on in Sanditon that require careful observation.”

For more information on Season 3, see our article with everything we know about the final season.


Sanditon S2Ep3 Charlotte and Colbourne
Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS) and Alexander Colbourne (BEN LLOYD-HUGHES). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt © Red Planet

I went into Sanditon, Season 3, still reeling from the after-effects of Sanditon, Season 2.

The second season left me with a mixed bag of emotions – torn between feeling like I “should” like the Charlotte and Alexander romance (since so many fans do) but not actually loving it – try as I might, not to mention the abundance of women like Georgiana and Esther (Charlotte Spencer) who had to continue to deal with abusive or bad behavior from men.

Season 3 turns this on its head by making the final series partly about the redemption of some of these men. Sure, I don’t mind flawed male characters – I’m an avid defender of the Byronic Hero. And I love redemption stories.

But when even Edward (Jack Fox) got a romance and a redemption story, I raised an eyebrow or two. Although, I’m pleased with how that arc ultimately played out. Still, there was a major ick factor connected to the Edward plot.

And yet, despite my reservations about the male redemptive theme, I enjoyed the final season, even if I started to wonder if the real theme of the season was that women should forego men altogether and be single like Jane Austen!

Thankfully, the finale was so feel-good and happy; it eased most of the doubts I initially had about the male characters.


With Season 3, the writers and production team have, in good faith, created something special for period drama and Sanditon fans. The final season has all the romantic period drama trappings you could ever want:

Romance, gorgeous costumes, independent heroines, witty dialogue, romanticized settings, a triumph of good over bad, moody heroes, longing stares, HEAs, and more.

I was especially pleased to see Georgiana Lambe continue to take a more central role as an equal heroine to Charlotte.

And if a light-hearted escape is what you’re after, this one delivers in spades. It’s a lovely tribute to the romantic period drama genre and incredibly entertaining to boot.  


Colbourne and Charlotte in Sanditon Season 3
Photo: Alexander Colbourne (BEN LLOYD-HUGHES); Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

However, what one viewer may perceive as an homage to Austen and previous period dramas, another might perceive as somewhat derivative, with some dialogue, characters, and plot points borrowing directly from Austen’s other novels, adaptations, or even other period dramas like Bridgerton.

Thus, my “minor” reservations about the final season have more to do with me as a viewer than what the writers intended to accomplish: a story that pays homage to Austen and previous popular romantic period dramas in an entertaining way.

While the writers, production team, and cast succeeded in telling the story, I felt disappointed there wasn’t a more original story and resolution for a few of my favorite characters.

Some stories and character arcs did rise above the homage level (Arthur Parker’s story, Lady Denham, Lady Susan, Georgiana, etc.), but others did not.

Thus, I wanted something more than an homage for every character arc and storyline – but that’s more of a personal preference than anything else. And maybe that’s a nearly impossible task for this new season.


Charlotte in sanditon season 3
Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

At the end of it all, if you love the Alexander and Charlotte romance, you will love Season 3. It will give you everything you could want or dream of this time: no horrible endings or rotten cliffhangers.

If you loved Georgiana’s romantic storyline in Season 1 and her quest to find her mother in Season 2, you will love her resolution in Season 3. And if Season 2 was totally your jam, this one will be too.

But if you have reservations about some of Sanditon’s derivative qualities or weren’t entirely on board with the main love story, you may walk away with minor disappointments – even if the final season is quite entertaining and lovely with fitting happy endings for all.

So, let’s explore the final season of Sanditon as I discuss what has been a polarizing but fascinating period drama.


Montrose Family in Sanditon posing on the beach
Shown (L-R); Lady Montrose (EMMA FIELDING); Lydia Montrose (ALICE ORR-EWING); Henry Montrose (EDWARD DAVIS). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

There is much to love about the final season! The new characters are entertaining and a breath of fresh air. From a scheming quintessential Austen mother to her snarky spinster daughter (Alice Orr-Ewing), a badly behaved but lovable Lord played by Edward Davis, Lady Denham’s old flame and a curmudgeonly investor (James Bolam), and Colbourne’s witty lawyer brother, Samuel (Liam Garrigan).

It was also lovely to see the return of Lady Susan, played by Sophie Winkleman. She brings maturity and modernity to the cast and story. There is an air of vulnerability in her performance while also reminding me of the best of Austen’s mentors. She also gets a nice romance of her own.

Rowleigh, Lady Denham and Tom Parker
PHOTO: Shown (L-R); Rowleigh Pryce (JAMES BOLAM); Lady Denham (ANNE REID); Tom Parker (KRIS MARSHALL). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

Some of the dialogue is hilarious and clever – particularly from the dry Lady Denham (Anne Reid) – whose zingers could match the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.

Lady Montrose (played by the consistently brilliant Emma Fielding) – a scheming mother trying to ensure marriages and fortunes for her disinterested children – also entertains.

Arthur Parker (Turlough Convery) comes into his own this season, and I enjoyed how his story played out! It’s a highlight, for sure.

Samuel Colbourne and Lady Susan walking
PHOTO: Samuel Colbourne (LIAM GARRIGAN) and Lady Susan (SOPHIE WINKLEMAN). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

Surprisingly, the best, most original romances belong to the supporting characters: Arthur and Lord Montrose, Miss Hankins (Sandy McDade, a total scene-stealer) and Dr. Fuchs, and Lady Susan and Samuel Colbourne (Alexander’s bachelor brother). Expect to look forward to their romances – they are charming to watch.

Tom and Mary Parker on the beach in Sanditon Season 3
PHOTO: (L-R); Tom Parker (KRIS MARSHALL); Mary Parker (KATE ASHFIELD). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt (C) Red Planet (Sanditon 3) Ltd

Of course, seeing our beloved heroines Charlotte and Georgiana again was fun as they find their own happily ever afters. And it’s always a joy revisiting the Parker family. I was pleased with Mary Parker’s (Kate Ashfield) and Tom Parker’s (Kris Marshall) compelling arc and proper resolution.

Ultimately, Sanditon Season 3 shines with the depiction of women, creating paths for each of them that don’t necessarily fit into society’s expectations.

And overall, the final season of Sanditon is a blast to watch and an improvement over Season 2. The sets are gorgeous, as are the costumes and the beautiful setting. The episodes flow together breezily, making you want to see what happens next.


Charlotte and Alexander talking outside
Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS) and Alexander Colbourne (BEN LLOYD-HUGHES). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

This may not be the most popular opinion, but I still don’t love the Charlotte and Alexander love story as much as I feel I should. While it entertained me, and I accepted that’s whom Charlotte should end up with – I didn’t feel all the feelings I thought I should feel about it.

I recognize it’s become a beloved period drama couple – so I don’t mean to knock them as a pairing – they’re just not my cup of tea.

The end of Season 2 and Alexander’s treatment of Charlotte put a bad taste in my mouth toward the Heybourne romance, and no matter how much the writers tried to transform Colbourne into Mr. Darcy (they repeated similar dialogue and character motivations and even scenes) – I couldn’t be swayed.

The Season 2 finale was problematic and uncomfortable for me. After Colbourne breaks things off with Charlotte (yes, we’re supposed to accept that he’s been emotionally messed with by Colonel Lennox, but still), claiming he was acting inappropriately as her employer, Colbourne then fires Charlotte from her position and gives her six months’ wages.

At this moment, Charlotte becomes more muted and reserved as a character. She’s been mistreated – first by Sidney and now by Alexander – and it shows. She then resolves to marry Ralph Starling (Cai Brigden), the man she first escaped to Sanditon to get away from in the first place.

Charlotte doesn’t find her voice again until the end of Season 3.

Perhaps I also take issue with some of Colbourne’s derivative qualities. He is a mix of Mr. Darcy, Captain Von Trapp, and Mr. Rochester – but less memorable because he’s not unique. It bothered me, for example, when some of Mr. Darcy’s words came out of his mouth.

That said, my feelings toward him and the Heybourne romance are more about me as a viewer and my personal experiences, but I still enjoyed the romance and the swoony scenes between them. And most viewers will love them as a pair.

I plan on rewatching the entire show from start to finish – so who knows, on a second watch, the Heybourne romance may finally win me over. On the surface, I see it. So, there’s hope I’ll like them better on a second viewing.

I like them okay – I just don’t love them…yet.


Georgiana Lambe on the beach
Georgiana Lambe (CRYSTAL CLARKE). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt (C) Red Planet (Sanditon 3) Ltd

One of the best changes from Seasons 1 to 2 (and even 3) was making Georgiana an equal Austen heroine to Charlotte Heywood. Crystal Clarke, as Miss Lambe, continues to shine as the complex and likable Georgiana.

But would she receive the treatment and happily ever after an Austen heroine deserves?

Thankfully, yes.

Georgiana’s central storyline for Season 3 is about finding her mother while also dealing with coming into her inheritance. The sharks come out – circling her, wanting her money – and she doesn’t always know whom to trust.

She becomes engaged to Lord Montrose to keep the press and fortune hunters off her back. It’s a way to protect herself from predators and excessive attention. But is she willing to throw away her opportunity for true love?

Well, entering the picture comes Georgiana’s long-lost mother (yay!) and the surprise return of Otis.

In Season 1, Otis was Georgiana’s first love, only to get her into trouble due to his gambling problems.

Was he a bad guy? No. But is he also someone who can be trusted with an heiress with a lot of money? Again, I raise another eyebrow or two. But for the story’s sake, I can choose suspension of disbelief here. Otis genuinely seems like a good man now.

However, much to my disappointment, the romance is mainly handled off-screen. While Georgiana and Otis’s few scenes together were quite swoony (grand gestures and all), I felt they deserved more scenes together.

So, in the end, Georgiana Lambe gets her happy ending with the man she loves and reunites with a mother who loves her, but I did want more romantic scenes for our heroine.

But it was fantastic seeing her happy and settled. I also appreciated the handling of racism and racial politics in the 19th century in a realistic but respectful way. It was nice to see the writers pay attention to these essential topics.


Georgiana and Charlotte in Sanditon Season 3 looking sad.
Georgiana Lambe (CRYSTAL CLARKE); Charlotte Heywood (ROSE WILLIAMS). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

Just about everything succeeds in the feel-good final season of Sanditon. And while I had some hesitations relating to the central love stories for our heroines, I still see the romances as successful – especially since the men did become worthy of Charlotte and Georgiana – each proving their love with grand gestures without expecting anything in return.

And despite mixed emotions about a few of the writers’ derivative choices in the final two seasons, I still love Sanditon!

It was a show that reminded the world that Janeites and period drama fans are passionate and worth paying attention to. The series also brought much-needed diversity to the period drama genre.

Some viewers may appreciate the homages toward Austen and previous period dramas, while others prefer more originality. Maybe you’re a Sidney Parker fan, a Colbourne fan, or both. Maybe you were watching for Charlotte or Georgiana or the numerous quirky supporting characters. Or all the characters.

Whatever the case, it’s clear Sanditon sparked a conversation in pop culture that will resonate for some time. That makes Sanditon a brilliant success!

The fact that fans of the show discuss and feel as much as we do proves that it accomplished something worthy of note. And that is fantastic. May it spark and inspire more romantic period dramas in the future.

All in all, I see Sanditon as a delightful addition to the period drama world.


Lord Montrose and Arthur Parker in Sanditon publicity still
Henry Montrose (EDWARD DAVIS) and Arthur Parker (TURLOUGH CONVERY). Credit: Courtesy of Joss Barratt

You can stream the entire romantic drama series (including all six episodes of the final season) on PBS Passport. New episodes aired on PBS Masterpiece on your local PBS station and on the PBS Masterpiece Amazon Channel. The series finale aired on April 23, 2023, on PBS.

Did you watch Sanditon, Season 3? How much did you love the season and ending? Were you happy with how everyone’s story ended? Let me know in the comments!

Four and a half corsets rating
Four Vintage Hearts Rating

Sanditon Season 3 Review - A Feel Good Final Series for the fans; pinterest image


By on April 24th, 2023

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a writer and digital publisher full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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10 thoughts on “‘Sanditon’ Season 3 Review – A Feel-Good Final Series for the Fans”

  1. I feel so validated when I read this. I have not been happy with the Charlotte/Colbourne storyline from the very beginning. I agree it was a failed attempt at recreating the broody Darcy, etc. However, Darcy had an undeniable attraction that Colbourne did not. I moaned audibly when some of Austin’s original dialouge was used. I completely agree with your above review and thank you for your honestly.

  2. That was a very fair and well balanced review, thank you!
    I’m a self-confessed Season 1 fan and loved the pairing of Sidney and Charlotte. I found their story exciting, magical, enchanting, tender, heartbreaking. It would have been difficult for any new romance to surpass that and we all know that without the appeal of that pairing, the show wouldn’t have been renewed for 2 further seasons.
    So Season 2 was kind of tragic for me and I approached it in a detached way and analysed it more clinically, although there were some fun moments and lines that made me laugh. But there were lots of ways they could have dealt with Charlotte’s story (grief, loss, heartbreak, recovery) better… her treatment by Colbourne at the end of S2 just made things worse. I felt depressed afterwards. Georgiana’s story wasn’t all that great in S2 either, and let’s not even talk about Esther and Edward… (why bring him back to groom a teenager? Yuk.)
    So although Season 3 may be fun for all these new couples and minor characters we don’t particularly care that much about (apart from Arthur, kudos for skimming the subject of LGBT romance I guess), and thank goodness they FINALLY gave Georgiana a better storyline and addressed the issues around her character and the historical context, ultimately Season 2 and 3 do not have the same emotional appeal as Season 1, and I don’t think they ever will. I totally agree with what you say about the derivative plots, scenes and lines as well – Season 1 had its faults but Andrew Davies understood how to interpret the themes of Austen’s fragment and create a believable historical world. Seasons 2 and 3 are a strange mix of fantasy land, disturbing misogny and recycled period dramas, with very little connection to the original fragment.
    We’ll see, but I’m pretty sure in years to come, Season 1 and the Sidney/Charlotte pairing will stay in the collective memory longer, not least for the way it brought fans together from all over the world. S2&3 are entertaining, but has inserting a different actor in a puffy white shirt speaking Mr Darcy’s lines really healed our hearts from that devastating clifftop ending? I don’t think so.

    • Thank you for your well-thought-out comment! I love to hear other people’s thoughts about the show! I agree that Andrew Davies is a more gifted, experienced writer – making him better equipped to interpret Austen’s unfinished work. It will be interesting to see how Sanditon stands the test of time. 🙂

  3. Don’t be so sure that “most” fans love Heybourne. Perhaps it’s safe to say those that preferred S2 over S1 do. But in reality amongst those S1 that fought so hard for S2 and for many others too, Charlotte’s new love story just did not work. Inadequate build up, inadequate exploration of reasons for her attraction to him, lack of natural chemistry, his unattractive character traits, the way it became all about HIS issues when Charlotte was in pain, no evidence that he helped Charlotte learn lessons or develop, plus the fact that the real Charlotte (sprited, principled, honest) seemed to have gone permanently awol, are all reasons for this. It was heartening that Georgiana’s story concluded much more satisfyingly at least.

    • I just came back to look at your review again and wanted to make clear that this is a different Lucy to the one above
      But I agree with her comments. Surely the job of a reviewer is to give honest opinions, and that’s what you’ve done. There is much to enjoy in Sanditon 2&3 but the main love story doesn’t work, sadly. We shouldn’t have to try and like it if we’re not feeling it. The impartial reviews I’ve read tend to agree with you, and if you look at comments by general viewers they are very mixed.
      Charlotte finally got her HEA but seems to have lost something of herself along the way.
      Lastly, Sidney didn’t mistreat Charlotte at the end of S1 – it was presented to us that he had to sacrifice their happiness to save his family. The fact that the actor declined to return doesn’t alter that fact.
      But you’re right, this show has provoked a lot of discussion, creativity and even friendships, so that’s definitely something to celebrate!

      • Yes absolutely! Sanditon fans have got to be some of the most passionate fans in the world. Many of those who have not been too impressed with the new direction have simply tried to be supportive of the fandom by only speaking publicly on twitter on what they do like. But in private or in dedicated safe spaces, the conversations are very different and so many are still so sad for what was lost and what could’ve have been. Fan fiction continues to thrive three years on, with so many ideas of where the story could’ve have gone instead, as such it is a huge comfort but also a reminder of the missed opportunities.

        But it’s always good to reality check that fandom does not make it the vast majority of viewership, and yes the reception when looking at general SM is mixed


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