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Sanditon screenwriter discusses the importance of Jane Austen's first black character

Louise McCreesh
Photo credit: Simon Ridgway - ITV

From Digital Spy

Andrew Davies, one of the writers behind ITV's upcoming Austen adaption Sanditon, has said it was "thrilling" to bring Jane Austen's first black character to screen.

The screenwriter, who also wrote BBC One adaptations of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, has written four episodes of the eight-part adaptation of the unfinished novel which premieres on Sunday (August 25).

One of the characters is Georgina Lambe (Crystal Clarke), an heiress whom Austen described as being from the West Indies.

And, speaking to Digital Spy, Andrew discussed the importance of interpreting that character as a woman of colour in his script.

Photo credit: Tristan Fewings / Stringer - Getty Images

Related: Sanditon cast respond to critics of the drama's racier scenes

"[She's] an heiress from the West Indies," Andrew said.

"Jane Austen didn't actually say that she's black, but we thought hell, why not," he said.

"'Chilly and tender' is how Miss Lambe is described. She finds the climate chilly, rather than her being sickly."

Photo credit: Simon Ridgway - ITV

Related: Kris Marshall reveals how he prepped for nude scenes in upcoming period drama Sanditon

He added: "I don't know what Jane Austen was going to do with Miss Lambe, her first black character, but [it was] thrilling to explore that.

"How are people going to take her? How is she going to feel thrust into this society? What relationships can she make? What's her backstory? What are her secrets?"

The series also stars Kris Marshall, who recently explained why he felt "pressure" taking part in the historic series.

Sanditon begins this Sunday (August 25) on ITV at 9pm.

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