When Sanditon came to a close on Masterpiece on PBS this past Sunday, it wasn’t just the end of Charlotte (Rose Williams), Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), and Georgiana’s (Crystal Clarke) stories, but also the end of the actors’ respective journeys playing these beloved characters. Both Rose Williams and Crystal Clarke had been with the Jane Austen series since the very beginning, navigating the tumult of the show’s initial cancelation and subsequent resurrection. Ben Lloyd-Hughes, on the other hand, had the unenviable task of joining the show in Season 2 as Charlotte’s new love interest. But all three actors guided the show across the finish line, gifting Sanditon fans with the happy ending they had pined so long for.
Sanditon‘s fans can now savor each and every chapter of the series, noting in retrospect how every challenge thrown to the characters set up an eventual happily ever after. But what do the stars of Sanditon remember most about their experiences shooting the show? Decider asked Rose Williams, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, and Crystal Clarke to share their personal favorite memories of working on Sanditon and they ranged from the Masterpiece show’s earliest days to the cast and crew’s final farewells.
After shouting out the “absolutely brilliant people working behind the scenes,” Sanditon star Rose Williams told Decider that she always remembers the show’s “big set piece days, like the various balls, the beach days.” In fact, she fondly remembers one of the show’s earliest beach scenes.
“I remember the first day that we shot on the beach, when there was the first big beach scene in Season 1 with [director] Oliver Blackburn. And it was the scene where the Parkers and Charlotte and Clara all kind of trundled down the pathway. And there are the bathing machines, and there are the tents with tea and cake, and lots of supporting artists kind of playing various beach games,” Williams said. “The sun was shining and it was just, like, really incredible.”
“You can only ever really use your imagination [when reading the script] for a big set piece of a period drama. So then when you actually see it, that was really incredible. So I guess any of the big set pieces.”
“That Beach Day, the bathing machines exterior day, really stood out to me in my memory.”
Ben Lloyd-Hughes’s fondest Sanditon memory ironically came from shooting the show’s final episode. And, no, it wasn’t a romantic Colbourne/Charlotte moment. Instead, he loved filming the scene where Lady Denham (Anne Reid) stands up her suitor Rowleigh Pryce (James Bolam).
“But we were filming on a weekend and sometimes when you’re filming on a weekend, there’s that element of — have you ever been in school on a weekend?” Lloyd-Hughes said. “There’s that element of, ‘Oh, this is like a real novelty.’ And people get a bit giddy with, kind of, exhaustion and excitement.”
“And so we were all in the church that day and because we were coming to the end of filming, it was near Christmas. And some of us impromptually started, between takes, singing Christmas carols. Of course, you’re with a bunch of actors, so some of them are amazing singers. You’ve got Turlough [Convery] and Alice Orr-Ewing’s got a brilliant voice. And so we started harmonizing these Christmas carols, and by the end, there were a few of us: me, Ed Davis, Turlough, I think Emma Fielding, Alice Orr-Ewing, and we were singing Christmas carols and all the crew just kind of stopped and watched.”
“It was just like a really nice Christmas moment that had started through either boredom or just kind of procrastination. And actually, we were in this amazing echoey church. The acoustics were amazing. We’re all in amazing costumes looking like we’re filming A Christmas Carol and I think there’s some footage of it somewhere that might hit. I guess someone might release it. So watch out for the Christmas takes.”
Crystal Clarke’s thoughts also flitted to the end of production, but she remembers the emotions of finally wrapping her whole Sanditon experience. Especially since her last night coincided with Georgiana’s birthday party, complete with the fireworks on the Sanditon promenade.
“Honestly, the last night was amazing. The last scene we filmed, we were out on the promenade, all of us outside watching the fireworks,” Clarke said. “Somebody opened a bottle of champagne. And I just remember being huddled with like Kate [Ashfield] and Turlough and Lauren from costume — and like all the costume girls they were amazing — and hair and makeup… We were all just around and it was partially a party and it was really sweet.”
“We had been through it. It was like a tough shoot and we’d been through it. And we were all just celebrating and happy in a good space on that last day, and really proud of what we had accomplished. And that’s a great memory, that’s a great way to wrap.”
Cheers to that and cheers to Sanditon‘s happily ever after.