Warning: contains spoilers for Bridgerton season one.
Netflix's Bridgerton has everything you could possibly want from a steamy period drama - duels at sunrise, heaving bosoms and bejewelled collarbones, unrequited love, swooning debutantes, and a feminist lead who refuses to marry for anything other than love...
But what makes it so uniquely original for a series set in the 18th century is its colour-blind casting, inclusion of the LGBTQ community, celebration of female pleasure, and classical versions of contemporary music - with orchestral covers of Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish.
Based on the first novel from a series of best-selling books from Julia Quinn - and the first scripted product of Shonda Rhimes' deal with Netflix from her production company, Shondaland - the drama follows Daphne Bridgerton as she makes her debut in the cutthroat marriage market.
Determined to marry for love, she is sidetracked by the elusive Duke of Hastings, who claims to have no interest in settling down or producing an heir.
Meanwhile, as the women accept they have no power or sway in a society controlled by men, they do wield some weight when it comes to spreading gossip, which can either ruin or enhance a reputation - hence the success of Lady Whistledown's gripping gossip column.
We finally found out the identity of the mysterious Whistledown in the show's finale - so what will happen next? Here's everything we know so far...
There will be a second season
On 21 January, Netflix confirmed that there will be a second season - which comes as very little surprise following the huge success of Bridgerton's debut.
By the end of January, Bridgerton became Netflix's most-watched show of all time. Within the first 28 days of its release, the Regency drama was viewed by 82 million households, far exceeding the 63 million that Netflix predicted.
News of a second series was not only confirmed on Twitter by Netflix, but fans were also treated to a message from Lady Whistledown herself.
"The ton are abuzz with the latest gossip, and so it is my honour to impart to you: Bridgerton shall officially return for a second season. I do hope you have stored a bottle of ratafia for this most delightful occasion," it read.
It was listed on Production Weekly that a second series was originally due to start filming in July 2020 on location in Uxbridge, with production intending to run until May 2021. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, these plans were delayed; filming is now meant to start this spring.
There's a total of eight novels in Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series - so there's plenty of material to use.
In fact, the show's creator Van Dusen previously revealed that he would love to adapt all eight books, telling Collider: "The first season was primarily about Daphne and her love story with Simon. But, this being a family of eight children and there being eight books, I would love to be able to focus and really tell stories and love stories for all the Bridgerton siblings. For each character, for sure. I would love that."
What would season two be about?
Season one was based on Quinn's first novel, The Duke and I. The second book in the collection is The Viscount Who Loved Me, which follows "reformed rake" Anthony Bridgerton in his quest to find a wife. But, as always, an obstacle stands in his way in the form of his wife-to-be's older sister, Kate Sheffield. Described as "the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom", Kate is determined to put a stop to the betrothal, but unwittingly then becomes the object of Anthony's desire.
Kate is determined to protect her sister - but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. Will she succumb to Anthony's charm and charisma?
Bridgerton season two cast
The story for Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page) came to a happy conclusion, so these two would no longer be the show's protagonists. Netflix confirmed that Page would sadly not be returning in season two, but that Dynevor's Daphne will remain in the cast, to help her brother "navigate the upcoming social season".
A statement, written in the form of a letter from Lady Whistledown, said: "While all eyes turn to Lord Anthony Bridgerton's quest to find a Viscountess, we bid adieu to Regé-Jean Page, who so triumphantly played the Duke of Hastings. We'll miss Simon's presence onscreen, but he will always be a part of the Bridgerton family."
Dynevor said in a recent interview that she'd like to play matchmaker to her brother Anthony.
"If the seasons are sticking to the books, then it's Anthony's turn to find love, so we're passing on the baton, in that respect," the actress told Elle.com. "I want to see Daphne get involved in Anthony's love life a bit, as he sort of meddled with hers quite a lot. I think that will be fun."
Regé-Jean Page had previously hinted that there could be more to explore for Simon and Daphne further down the line as their relationship evolves, telling TV Line: "I'm not sure I believe in paradise. I know that the romance genre generally does — part of the deal is that you get a happy ending. But as far as continuing to explore characters, I think that love is an evolving thing. It’s a living, breathing thing that needs tending, that needs looking after, that needs mending when it gets worn or torn.
"They get married very young. They still have a lot of growing to do. They have a lot to do, and I think it’ll always be fun to watch them do that together." So, perhaps there's scope for the duke to reappear in later seasons.
Sex Education actress Simone Ashley has been confirmed as a new female lead, playing Anthony's love interest, Kate Sharma. Deadline describes the character as "a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools — Anthony Bridgerton very much included". The actress is best known for playing Olivia Hanan in Sex Education, but was also seen in season three of Broadchurch.
Four additional new cast members have also been announced. "Dear readers, it seems we have a few new faces in the Ton," the announcement read, again in the manner of Lady Whistledown. "Do try your best to welcome them generously. I know I will..."
These include additional members of the Sharma family, with Charithra Chandran as Kate's younger sister Edwina, and Shelley Conn as their mother, Mary. Chandran is best known for her role in Amazon Prime series Alex Rider, while Conn notably recently appeared in ITV drama Liar.
Fellow newcomers Calam Lynch and Rupert Young will play Theo Sharpe and Jack, respectively. Lynch previously had parts in Dunkirk and series Derry Girls, while Young's TV work includes Foyle's War, Merlin and Doctor Who.
We'd also expect the return of the legendary Julie Andrews providing the narration for Lady Whistledown, and Jonathan Bailey back as Anthony Bridgerton, our new male lead.
We're hoping Claudia Jessie will bring back her feminist bookworm Eloise Bridgerton, and we'd love Luke Newton's Colin Bridgerton returning to fall in love with Nicola Coughlan's adorable Penelope Featherington.
We also saw another side to Coughlan's wily Penelope when she was unveiled as Lady Whistledown at the very end of the first season, unbeknownst to the other characters, so we can expect Penelope back to excite their lives with more juicy gossip.
On Coughlan's hopes for Penelope and Eloise in a possible second series, she added: "I’ve been speculating a lot about storylines and just trying to apply logic where I don't know if logic works. I don't know who's taking over the family estate and my dad, has he really been killed? Is Eloise going to figure out who Whistledown is? I know none of that stuff. I'm honestly just as curious as you."
We're also hoping that Adjoa Andoh is back as the commanding Lady Danbury, and Golda Rosheuvel returns as the indomitable Queen Charlotte - as her backstory was hinted at in season one.
We expect Luke Thompson's Benedict to be back to explore his sexuality and gift for art, but we know Ben Miller won't be returning as Lord Featherington after his untimely death at the end of the series. If he did indeed die, that is, and not fake his own death to avoid his mounting debts...
When would it air?
Filming is due to start in the spring, so we can probably expect a second season to arrive on Netflix sometime during 2022. We are already counting down the days.
Bridgerton is available to stream on Netflix now.
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