'Sanditon' delivers Regency era drama in third, final season

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Mar. 19—For three seasons, Crystal Clarke stepped into the world of "Sanditon."

It was an opportunity to bring Georgiana Lambe to life.

"Sanditon," is based on the last unfinished novel from treasured author Jane Austen.

The Masterpiece series begins its third and final season at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 19, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1. It will air the final six episodes through April 23.

The series is set amid the romantic intrigues of an English seaside resort in the early 1800s.

True to themes from other Austen novels, the first two seasons raised and dashed various matrimonial prospects for the heroines, played by Rose Williams and Crystal Clarke.

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, Charlotte has attracted the attention of some of Sanditon's most eligible bachelors — among them the enigmatic Alexander Colbourne, 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.

"Georgiana knows all the secrets," Clarke says with a laugh. "She's not one person that you mess with."

The returning cast includes Flora Mitchell as Colbourne's tomboyish young daughter, Leonora, and Eloise Webb as his rebellious niece, Augusta, who falls for a questionable admirer. Kris Marshall reprises his role as Sanditon's tireless promoter, Tom Parker, joined by Kate Ashfield as his principled wife, Mary, and Turlough Convery as his ebullient brother Arthur.

Also back are Anne Reid as the imperious Lady Denham; Jack Fox as her dissolute nephew, Edward; and Sophie Winkleman as Charlotte's high-society friend, Lady Susan, who happens to be the king's mistress.

Clarke has learned a lot from the character over the course of the three seasons.

"What I've really enjoyed about the character is that things can really get messy, but she takes it all in stride," she says. "There's a strength that she's carrying through the new season that makes me proud to have brought her to life. The writing is really well and I'm honored to have been part of this tremendous show."


The third season of "Sanditon" premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 19, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1. It can also be streamed on the PBS app.