Is it rear-ly necessary? Theo James emerges from the sea to give viewers an eyeful of his pert behind in ITV’s latest Sunday night period drama Sanditon

Sunday night viewers were promised a very sexed-up Jane Austen, and the second episode of ITV’s Sanditon didn’t disappoint, as its hunky star emerged from the sea in a Colin Firth throwback, but this time stark naked.

Theo James, 34, who plays the unpredictable Sidney Parker in the racy version of Austen’s final, unfinished novel, set pulses racing as he displayed his toned torso and bare bottom during the 9pm primetime slot.

Its writer Andrew Davies is also responsible for the famous scene where Colin Firth emerged from the lake in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

The scene, which took the audience by surprise in the final minutes of the episode, caught the demure Charlotte Heywood, played by Rose Morrison, off guard as she paddled in the water.

Theo James, 34, who plays the unpredictable Sidney Parker (pictured) in the racy version of Austen’s final, unfinished novel, set pulses racing as he displayed his toned torso and bare bottom during the 9pm primetime slot

It follows a spicy first episode last week which also featured naked men and a sex act in the woods.

James is the love interest of Miss Heywood who he overlooks at first.

But the British actor is certainly not camera shy when it comes to being naked.

In 2009 he played Kemal Pamuk, the Turkish diplomat who had a heart attack while in bed with Lady Mary in Downton Abbey.

The scene, which took the audience by surprise in the final minutes of the episode, caught the demure Charlotte Heywood, played by Rose Morrison (pictured), off guard as she paddled in the water

‘You have to be conscious of salaciousness for the point of salaciousness,’ James told Radio Times.

‘If there’s going to be any nakedness, it has to be there for a narrative reason, and then it’s fine.

‘It’s fairly pointless to have someone whipping their kit off for the sake of it, their sun-drenched bodies quivering in the wind.

‘But if it adds to the story, it can be fun but also natural, and doesn’t feel shoehorned in for generated sexiness.’

Sanditon is named after a quiet village that Tom Parker – played by Love Actually star Kris Marshall – plans to turn into a fancy Regency resort.

Writer Andrew Davies – who was behind the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride And Prejudice – has confessed that the show is ‘Jane Austen, but not as you knew her’.

Speaking last month about ‘sexing-up’ an Austen novel he said: ‘I write something that I would like to watch and I suppose the ‘sexing it up’ thing comes in fairly naturally.

‘Because if it’s not there I feel, well, that’s a shame. Let’s put some in.’

He insisted the nudity in his scripts was historically accurate.

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