Two major Sanditon characters will not be returning for season three

They made their final appearances in the season two finale...

It's been revealed that two major characters have bowed out of Sanditon ahead of its upcoming third season, which has already been filmed and is set to air sometime in 2023.

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Charlotte Spencer, who played Esther Babington in the period drama's first two seasons, will not be returning for its third instalment. Additionally, season two's red coat rogue Colonel Francis Lennox, played by Tom Weston-Jones, will also not be back for the new episodes.

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Speaking to Decider, showrunner Justin Young explained: "I don't think it's spoiling much to say, I don't think we'll see Lennox again in season three. He's kind of gone," referencing Lennox's lost bet against Tom Parker (Kris Marshall) which resulted in him having to pay back his debts and leave town for good.

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As for Esther, who finally got her happy ending at the end of season two, he added: "I think Esther, where we leave her at the end of season two, I think she's got everything she's ever wanted. She's happy, married, and now she has a child that she adores so I think that's the end of Esther's story as far as I'm concerned."

Esther Babington actress Charlotte Spencer will not be back for season three

He continued: "I've always said with respect to this show, I think the way we built it is that, like a novel, I think we have to honour that characters have finite stories. So when their stories are done, rather than just having them in the kind of ensemble treading water, I'd rather just say that's the end of their story and they move on and we bring new characters in."

Season two's rogue redcoat Colonel Lennox will also not be back

The two are not the only major stars to have departed the series. As fans will know, Theo James - who played the show's initial love interest Sidney Parker - announced his exit shortly after the show was saved from cancellation by PBS. As a result, his character was written out as having died from yellow fever.

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The series, which is based on Jane Austen's unfinished novel of the same name, wrapped its second season back in April and ended on a dramatic cliffhanger that saw Rose William's heroine Charlotte Heywood's hopes of a future with the Mr Darcy-esque Alexander Colbourne dashed.

Following their kiss in the penultimate episode, Alexander unceremoniously fired Charlotte as a governess to his children after being convinced by Colonel Lennox that the pair would not be happy together. He and Charlotte subsequently parted on bad terms, and although he tried to win her back, the episode ended with Charlotte engaged - to another man. As a result, Alexander decided to leave town, leaving many viewers wondering if he will ever return.

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