Annoyed Jane Austenites were crushed when Sanditon’s heroine didn’t get her man in the last episode, an unexpected twist for viewers who were expecting a traditional happy ending. And when they learned that the U.K.-produced series that originally aired on ITV had already been canceled and was unlikely to return for a second season on PBS, there were howls of protest. Now, some say they won’t get hooked on another PBS series for fear of getting burned again.
‘Beecham House’ premieres this summer
PBS brings a steady stream of shows from across the pond to American audiences, including hits like Poldark, Call the Midwife, and Downton Abbey. But not every series is a success, and when a show gets canceled by its original broadcaster, there’s not a lot that PBS can do.
That’s what happened with Sanditon. The show aired in Britain in 2019, ahead of the U.S. broadcast. The ratings weren’t impressive, and ITV decided not to renew it. The show’s creator Andrew Davies hinted that an enthusiastic response from U.S. audiences when the show debuted here in 2020 might result in a reprieve. But so far, that hasn’t happened.
Now, PBS is promoting another period drama from the U.K. Beecham House is a six-episode drama set in India on the cusp of the 19th century, just before the advent of British rule in the region. John Beecham (Tom Bateman) is an English ex-soldier who has bought a lavish estate in Delhi and hopes to set up a business as a trader. He also has some secrets — he brings a mysterious Indian woman with an infant with him to his new home, and it’s not clear how he got the money to buy such a grand house. And when his mother arrives from England with a prospective bride in tow, things get more complicated.
Some ‘Sanditon’ fans say they won’t watch ‘Beecham House’
Beecham House is set to air on PBS Masterpiece in Summer 2020, but PBS members can stream all the episodes now via PBS Passport. While it’s not based on an Austen novel, it seems like the show would appeal to Sanditon viewers — it’s set in roughly the same time period (though in a different country) and even features Leo Suter, who played Young Stringer. But Sanditon fans say they’re not interested in the special sneak peek, nor are they likely to tun in when it airs in a few months.
Instagram posts promoting the new show have been flooded with comments urging PBS to bring back Sanditon for season 2. Some people even suggested pressuring the network by boycotting Beecham House or refusing to donate to their local member-supported stations, which rely on donations for a large chunk of their operating budgets.
“I’m boycotting this because of your decision to not have a second season for Sanditon,” one person commented.
“Perhaps if we all threaten to cancel our Passports, PBS will be persuaded,” wrote another.
Viewers say they can’t handle another cliffhanger
PBS viewers have another reason for approaching Beecham House with skepticism. Like Sanditon, the show has already been canceled by ITV. And like the earlier show, Beecham House also reportedly ends on a cliffhanger.
Creator Gurinder Chadha is holding out hope that the show can still be saved, Deadline reports, with ITV saying that she “is actively having conversations with international broadcasters with a view to the drama returning beyond series one.”
But on Instagram, many said they were unwilling to take a chance on the show knowing that its future is in doubt.
“No thank you. No more cliffhangers,” wrote one.
“Thanks, but no thanks #masterpiece not getting myself hooked on another show for it to end badly,” wrote another. “Still waiting on #sanditonseason2.”
Beecham House is currently streaming on PBS Passport.