Sanditon Reveals How Season 2 Is Handling Theo James' Exit As Sidney Parker, And It's No Bridgerton

Sanditon Season 1 Theo James as Sidney Parker
(Image credit: PBS)

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD for the Season 2 premiere reveal of what happened to Theo James’ Sidney Parker. 

Sanditon is finally on the verge of returning for Season 2, after an extended hiatus that seemed permanent for quite some time. The first season ended on a heartbreaking twist, when Sidney Parker bucked Jane Austen tradition by not sweeping leading lady Charlotte off to a happily-ever-after. The Season 2 renewal came with the news that Theo James wasn’t returning to reprise the role; now, the show has revealed how Sidney’s absence will be explained, and it’s a whole lot darker than what Bridgerton – which shares some scandalous similarities with Sanditon – is doing to explain Regé-Jean Page’s absence as Simon.

While fans had every reason to expect that Sidney had married Eliza Campion for all the wrong reasons and was living with her off-screen, Sanditon went in a much more final direction. In a clip released ahead of the premiere (via TVLine), Charlotte is back in Sanditon and walking with Arthur Parker, the brother of her former flame.  Arthur said that he’s “no substitute for Sidney” but has made himself useful to their brother Tom – who can probably use all the help he can get, based on Season 1 – even though he can “hardly bring himself to speak Sidney’s name.”

Charlotte responded by saying that it’s “unwise to keep grief bottled up," and Arthur’s response settled the matter of what happened to his brother:

Since we don’t have a grave to mark him, I often light a candle in the church. Weep like a baby. I always feel much the better for it.

Rest in peace, apparently, Sidney Parker! Although Sanditon evidently left the door a little bit open for a dramatic return due to the lack of a body to bury, Theo James’ statement about why he wasn’t returning for Season 2 didn’t indicate that he had plans to come back down the line either, and it seems that the show didn’t want to go the route of recasting him

The look at the Season 2 premiere doesn’t give away exactly what happened to Sidney, but Arthur’s certainty that his brother is gone coupled with not having a grave to mark him makes me think that Sidney died at sea when his ship went down. It would be a straightforward way to kill off the character without leaving a grave, and give fans reason to speculate... unless the premiere settles the matter even more. 

In contrast, Bridgerton is going in pretty much the opposite direction with original leading man Simon Bassett after the departure of actor Regé-Jean Page, when Simon was alive and well at the end of Season 1. Even though the second season of the hit Netflix series won’t premiere for another week, actress Phoebe Dynevor already shared that Simon will be referred to a lot, and Daphne and Simon’s son will appear. 

Of course, Bridgerton Season 1 ended on a much happier note for Daphne and Simon than Sanditon Season 1 ended for Charlotte and Sidney, so there was never going to be a cheery way to write out Sidney while bringing back Charlotte, primed and ready for new love interests

The long-awaited Season 2 premiere of Sanditon comes to PBS on Sunday, March 20 at 9 p.m. ET in the 2022 TV schedule, and there is also great news for fans when it comes to streaming the new season

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).