Why Sanditon's Ben Lloyd-Hughes Thinks Colbourne Made That 'Upsetting' Season 2 Finale Decision About Charlotte

ben lloyd-hughes as alexander colbourne in sanditon season 2 on pbs masterpiece
(Image credit: PBS)

Fans of the PBS Masterpiece drama, Sanditon, were both pleasantly surprised and quite shocked when the series was renewed after having been cancelled for over a year. Everyone was thrilled that we’d finally get Season 2 as part of the 2022 TV schedule, but stunned when it was also revealed that Season 1’s romantic lead (Theo James) wouldn’t return. Now that we’ve seen how Charlotte moved on in the second season though, all fans want to know is how Alexander Colbourne made such a mess of things with the determined young governess. Luckily, star Ben Lloyd-Hughes thinks he knows why Colbourne made his “upsetting” Sanditon Season 2 ending decision.

Sanditon’s Ben Lloyd-Hughes Explains Why Colbourne Made His Finale Choice About Charlotte

As Sanditon Season 2 was drawing to a close (and Charlotte was finally past that premiere tragedy), it made quick work of tying up a number of plotlines, including it seeming to be quite obvious that Charlotte was about to end up with her moody boss, Alexander Colbourne. But, with about 10 minutes left in the finale, the dummy apologized for taking advantage of his position as her boss and fired Charlotte. Now, actor Ben Lloyd-Hughes has opened up about why he believes Colbourne did it, telling PBS Masterpiece:

It is his Everest, to break out of his comfort zone in that way and show, for him, that vulnerability of what he thinks is laying his cards on the table. What really spoke to me about Colbourne so much, is that he is a man of enormous integrity that permeates through him, often to his own detriment. What he thinks is the honorable decision is not necessarily the honorable decision for everyone else, because it’s all subjective. Sometimes he can cut off his nose to spite his face and be so proud. What he thinks is honorable is actually upsetting both himself and other people, and no one is left happy.

And, Charlotte was, indeed, left unhappy, as were Colbourne’s two charges, Leo and Augusta, and the stubborn man himself. As Charlotte tried pointed out, she was a very willing participant in their two kisses, and he clearly hurt her deeply by making it seem like those were mistakes on his part and insinuating that he only saw her as an employee.

As a viewer, I appreciated that Colbourne realized how his actions could’ve looked to Charlotte (and that he thought to offer her six months of pay after he fired her), but I think we were all hoping that the apology would lead into him confirming how he felt about her and making sure she felt the same. 

It did take “enormous integrity,” though, for him to admit that he maybe didn’t go about all that kissing in the right way. But, Lloyd-Hughes also noted that Colbourne had a lot of other things standing in the way of admitting his real feelings for Charlotte, even once Augusta convinced him to change his mind and he went to try and rehire Charlotte:

Colbourne has so much going on, so many layers there, that it is not just straightforward. You’ve got what he’s saying, being one thing, and then what he is feeling, being another, and then all the layers before that of his fear, and insecurity, and ego, and pride. And then his love for Charlotte, and how the words are coming out, but not the necessarily in the right order. I love a scene where the audience are not watching the best version of that scene, which is to say that they are aware of what they want these people to be saying, but the people do not have the vocabulary to say it.

By the time Colbourne shows up to talk to Charlotte, she’s decided to leave Sanditon and tells him that (leading to a decision that star Rose Williams really didn’t like), not wanting to hear him out. And, when Colbourne hears her news (though it seemed like he may have been about to confess his mushy, romantic feelings), it completely shuts him right back down, and he lets her go. Sigh… 

Luckily, Sanditon Season 3 has not only been given the go-ahead, but it filmed back to back with the second season (and we’ve already seen a teaser), so it shouldn’t be more than a year before it to hits our screens, and we can see how Ben Lloyd-Hughes’ character regains his senses and tries to woo Charlotte, seriously, this time!

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.