Bridgerton drops first-look photos, reveals release date
Netflix has finally issued our invitation to the ball.
On Thursday, the streamer shared first photos and announced the long-awaited release date for Shondaland's first property under fearless leader Shonda Rhimes' epic 2017 Netflix deal. Bridgerton, a Regency-era drama (think Jane Austen) based on a series of romance novels by author Julia Quinn, will be here as a Christmas gift to all of us. The eight-episode series drops Dec. 25.
Bridgerton follows the lives of the eight titular Bridgerton siblings, a wealthy family living in Regency England. Season 1 is based largely on Quinn's first novel in the series, The Duke and I, tracking the story of Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), as she embarks on a fake courtship with Simon, the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). Beset by influence from Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) and societal pressures, Daphne and Simon turn to each other to try to beat the ton at their own game. But things get complicated when their fauxmance starts to feel all too real.
The cadre of first-look photos offer a glimpse of the show's most important players, including Daphne, Simon, and the entire Bridgerton family. We also get a taste of the Featherington sisters, most particularly Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), the kindest of the bunch and fast friend of Eloise Bridgerton (Claudie Jessie). There's also Marina Thompson (Ruby Barker), a poor relation of the Featheringtons, whose role has been significantly expanded from the novels. And who can miss the meddling society maven Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) advising her beloved Simon? But most importantly, we get our first taste of Simon and Daphne dancing (squee!).
"I've always loved period shows," showrunner Chris Van Dusen tells EW. "The sets and the costumes and the rules of society are what really strike me. They're just so ripe with conflict, but at the same time, they're considered a little traditional and a little conservative. But with Bridgerton and these books, I knew I could make the period show I wanted to see and one I hadn't necessarily seen before. Taking everything you love about a period show and really turning it into something fresh and topical and timely."
Longtime Shondaland force Betsy Beers is also producing. "It's an entirely different Regency than you've ever seen," Beers tells EW. "The fact that in any period you're up against certain constrictions and issues that are incredibly difficult to overcome, but also this really cool concept of during this time where marriage is a commodity, there's a mother who wants all of her children to marry for love. It's such a beautiful, in the purest way, romantic concept that I was blown away."
The rest of the Bridgerton clan includes Ruth Gemmell (Penny Dreadful) as matriarch Lady Violet; Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch) as eldest child Anthony; Luke Thompson (Dunkirk) as sensitive Benedict; Luke Newton (The Lodge) as fan-favorite charmer Colin; Claudia Jessie (Line of Duty) as independent Eloise; and Ruby Stokes (Da Vinci’s Demons) as shy Francesca. The youngest siblings, Gregory and Hyacinth, are still children when we first meet them and will be played by Will Tilston and Florence Hunt, respectively.
Sabrina Bartlett (Victoria), Polly Walker (Rome), Ben Miller (Paddington 2), Bessie Carter (Howards End), Harriet Cains (Marcella), Lorraine Ashbourne (Jericho), and Martins Imhangbe (The Tragedy of King Richard the Second) also round out the proceedings.
But perhaps most practically perfect of all, Bridgerton boasts the vocal talents of Julie Andrews as a Regency-era "Gossip Girl" and narrator, the anonymous author of a scandal sheet, Lady Whistledown.
Quinn, who wrote the novels the show is based on, admits the news of Andrews' casting caused her to hyperventilate, but the series as a whole is a marvel to her. "What's just as incredible as seeing your characters come to life is the sheer scale of it — to realize that something that began in my head and that was just me, now belong to so many people," she tells EW. "There are hundreds and hundreds of people working on this project, and they're all bringing a little bit of themselves to it. It's just made it so rich and wonderful."
For a taste of that opulence and glamour, check out the first-look photos above.