Construction of a major outdoor film set is underway at The Bottle Yard for the latest high-end TV drama to shoot at the Studios; the upcoming adaptation of the final incomplete novel from Jane Austen, Sanditon. ITV has today announced that Rose Williams, Theo James, Anne Reid and Kris Marshall will star in the lavish drama, which has commenced filming.

A 10 week build process is underway following approval of a planning application submitted to Bristol City Council by Red Planet Pictures, the independent production company behind hits Death in Paradise and Dickensian, which is now bringing Sanditon to a wide television audience for the very first time. Adapted by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (War & Peace, Mr Selfridge, Les Misérables, Pride and Prejudice), Austen’s original 11-chapter fragment will be brought to life in a 8×60 minute series. It is filming at The Bottle Yard and on location in Bristol with assistance from Bristol Film Office. Bath Film Office are also supporting filming at a location in North East Somerset.

Set builders are creating an 1820’s outdoor Regency street of a ‘quiet seaside town’ within the Studio’s Back Lot. External elevations are being constructed from open frame scaffolding and wood, against which the authentic period street façade is being built, measuring 67 metres long by 21 metres wide, with heights of up to 10 metres in some places, according to set designs. Sets are also built inside the Studios, in 22,000 sq. ft. of build space in Tank House 4.

Alex Protherough, Head of Production, Red Planet Pictures said: “When looking for a suitable production base for filming Sanditon, we were immediately drawn to Bristol and the South West. There is a wealth of locations in this area, perfect for period drama, and particularly the Georgian period where our story is set. The country houses, Bath and its elegant Regency architecture, even the Somerset coastline all offer a wide range of locations perfect for Sanditon. The Bottle Yard Studios are perfectly located to access these locations, and they have more to offer. Sanditon was always going to require an element of set building, as is often the case with continuing drama productions of this size. The construction and studio spaces at the Bottle Yard have made Bristol the obvious place to base film and television production in the area.”

Fiona Francombe, Site Director of The Bottle Yard Studios, says; “Sanditon is a lavish, high profile production at The Bottle Yard which will also put Bristol locations on screen, thanks to the help of the city’s Film Office. It’s wonderful to see the external sets going up in addition to those inside the Studios; our spacious Back Lot allows for this type of build to take place where needed. Builds like this are so beneficial to the local area, they present excellent new opportunities for trainees in South Bristol as well as employment for a high percentage of local crew.”

Natalie Moore, Bristol Film Office says; “Sanditon is an ideal production for Bristol to host. With our own studio base and excellent Regency locations to offer, producers can also benefit from locations support from our neighbours at Bath Film Office nearby. The versatility of the West of England and its network of film friendly support makes this a prime region to base this type of drama, which brings valuable production spend and employment into the local economy.”

Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker. When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London, exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover herself… and ultimately find love.

Sanditon is a Red Planet Pictures production commissioned for ITV by Polly Hill and MASTERPIECE by Rebecca Eaton. Created by Jane Austen, it is written and executive produced by Andrew Davies with Belinda Campbell as Executive Producer for Red Planet Pictures and Rebecca Eaton as Executive Producer for MASTERPIECE. Series producer is Georgina Lowe, and casting director is Jill Trevellick. BBC Studios is distributing the series internationally.