Bridgerton season 2: Who’s who, who’s up and who’s down in the Ton as Netflix’s period drama returns
After more than a year’s wait, Bridgerton is coming back to our screens today and the tension is threatening to burst our bodices.
You would have been hard-pressed to have missed the first series. The frocks, drama and scandal made it a worldwide hit, viewed by 82 million accounts and reaching number one in 76 countries on Netflix - making it the streamer’s most-watched series at the time it premiered.
Inspired by Julia Quinn’s novels, the show follows the lives of the eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family as they navigate high society in Regency-era London, aka the ‘Ton’. The fizz in the frothy spectacle is fuelled by anonymous newsletter writer Lady Whistledown – think of her as an 18th century Gossip Girl – who is voiced by Julie Andrews.
The series, which stars Phoebe Dynevor, Jonathan Bailey, Nicola Coughlan, ââAdjoa Andoh, Polly Walker and Golda Rosheuvel has now been renewed for a third and fourth series. The first season followed Daphne Bridgerton (Dynevor) as she searched for a suitable husband after being crowned the ‘diamond of the season’ - aka the year’s most promising debutante - by the formidable Queen Charlotte (Rosheuvel). Now, in season two, the focus shifts to her older brother, Lord Anthony Bridgerton (Bailey) as he attempts to leave his rakish ways behind and find a wife.
The new instalments promise to be as scandalous, visually dazzling and addictively watchable as the first series. If you are a little rusty on where the last series ended, or you are one of the few people who didn’t get around to watching it, here’s our recap to bring you up to speed beforehand.
A solid warning – season one spoilers coming up!
Lord Anthony Bridgerton
The hot eldest child of the Bridgerton family and heir to everything, Anthony inherited the title of Viscount at an early age when his father died suddenly. Fulfilling every eldest-child stereotype, he is confident, conscientious and dutiful to a fault. And because of his quintessential English gentleman charm, which is bolstered by the fact that he’s so, so, SO rich, he has garnered a fair few fans - in the Ton and among viewers.
After meddling unhelpfully in his sister Daphne’s love life, challenging one of his best friends (the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page, sadly not returning this season) to a duel on her behalf and painfully extricating himself from a drawn-out love affair with his mistress, the opera singer Sienna Rosso, at the end of season one, to viewers’ devastation, he announced his decision to get married and continue the Bridgerton line. The Ton is agog - who will be the next Viscountess?
Played by British actor Luke Thompson, Benedict Bridgerton once again falls into second child clichés. A bit aimless at the start of season one, he’s a drifting socialite, finding himself at a new party every night. But he’s misunderstood – he wants something more. Benedict is an artist and a sensitive soul and longs to make his hobby a career, so starts to look beyond the limiting – or so he believes – world of the Ton.
In season one his main love interest is Genevieve Delacroix, the celebrated dressmaker to the Ton, whom he meets at a racy party when he embarks on a threesome with her and a mysterious third woman - who turns out to be Lucy Granville, the wife of his close friend Henry Granville. Granville is an artist, and gay, so remains very bohemian about it. But with Genevieve tripping off to Paris at the end of season one, where will his attention turn?
Colin Bridgerton is the third son in the family (have you noticed the alphabetical pattern yet?) played by British actor Luke Newton. He has a jovial nature, and an adventurous spirit. In season one he pursues Marina Thompson, a distant cousin of the Bridgertons’ neighbours, the Featheringtons, and eventually proposes. But it all ends in scandal, when Lady Whistledown reports that Marina is pregnant. At the end of the season, heartbroken, he set off on his Grand Tour, as is right and proper for a rich young man looking for distraction. First stop, Greece. Will his heart be healed by the sight of all those ancient ruins?
Eloise Bridgerton, played by Claudia Jessie, is the fifth Bridgerton child. Rebellious and clever and appalled by the marriage market of the Ton, Eloise is keen to push back against expectations that she will be another obedient debutante as she approaches marrying age. She’d rather be reading than shopping for dresses or dancing at a ball. But season two coincides with her coming out - whether she’ll be able to avoid being herded through that particular cattle market remains to be seen.
Irish actress Nicola Coughlan is Penelope Featherington, the youngest Featherington sister. She is clever and warm-hearted – a rarity in Bridgerton’s snakes and ladders world. Her family doesn’t understand her – and after a while, nor does her close friend Eloise, who becomes frustrated when Penelope voices that she would like to look for a husband too.
Penelope has a crush on her friend’s brother Colin but this, predictably, strains her new friendship with cousin Marina. And the best bit? She is the real Lady Whistledown, though her identity remains a secret as series one ends. Viewers will be desperate to find out whether Queen Charlotte, gunning for Lady Whistledown, will be able to unmask her this season.
Polly Walker plays the formidable Portia, Baroness Featherington. She is a regency Kris Jenner – wildly ambitious, looking out for her daughters as they flounder in the shark-infested waters of London’s high society.
For Portia, it’s all about making good matches. She herself spent 22 years in a loveless marriage so can’t fathom why her daughters can’t do the same. She’s as cunning as Cersei Lannister, and far more effective. At the end of the series, her husband (played by Ben Miller) is found dead after a dodgy deal over a boxing match – throwing the family’s fortunes into disarray. As we enter season two, the remaining Featheringtons anxiously await the new heir (because obviously no woman can inherit titles or property, don’t be ridiculous) to find out whether he will do right by them, or turn them out into the street.
Daphne, Duchess of Hastings (née Bridgerton)
The fourth Bridgerton child and eldest daughter, Daphne is the central player in season one. Unlike her sister Eloise, she has always wanted to - and known she must - be a perfect debutante to set the tone for her younger sisters’ marriages, and despite her sheltered existence, she manages the pressure of this role with aplomb.
Her brother Anthony’s overeager involvement in finding her a suitor becomes a problem when he scares off half the town, but she nevertheless manages to build a relationship with his friend Simon Basset behind her brother’s back – to viewers’ delight. Their bodice-ripping (eventually) romance is the backbone of series one. At the end of season, they have married, making her the new Duchess of Hastings, and have a baby – so far at least, it seems to be happy ever after. She seems set to take a back seat in season two, but will return.
Regé-Jean Page stars as Simon Basset, aka the Duke of Hastings and the eventual husband of Daphne, in series one. He is honourable, reserved, kind and a real catch – sort of like a Mr Darcy but less uptight. More modern. Arguably sexier. No wet shirts though. Hastings is the centre of the town’s gossip when he arrives on the scene given the competition for quality suitors. However, Simon won’t appear in series two, after Page decided to leave the Ton behind - perhaps all those Bond rumours have something in them...
Played by British actress Ruby Barker, Marina Thompson is a cousin of the Featheringtons, who comes to live with them so that she can enter society. She is from a rural gentry family, and so isn’t used to the often vicious ways of London high society - meaning she often misses some of its social cues.
She is ambitious and witty, which, when combined with her beauty, makes her a real catch, but her love life is far from simple. There’s Colin, who is infatuated with her, George Crane, her old lover from the countryside, and Phillip Crane, his brother. When Colin finds out Marina is pregnant, their relationship is abandoned but Phillip dutifully comes to the rescue when he proposes to Marina in lieu of his brother, who is now dead. After some agonising, she accepts the proposal. At the end of season one, she is seen getting into a carriage with Phillip. Will we see her again?
Played by Martins Imhangbe, Will Mondrich is a boxer and a good friend of Simon Basset. Given his newfound celebrity, a result of his sporting success in season one, he finds himself at the centre of high society, but it’s not a familiar world to him.
He is married to Alice Mondrich and has three children. We’re excited to see what’s next for Will – it feels like in series one he was only getting started. He intends to go into business with the tidy sum he made from the boxing match in season one (yes, the same one that indirectly caused the death of Lord Featherington) but is secretly troubled by the deal he made to get it - Alice would not approve.
If this wasn’t enough, there are new characters joining the drama. This is what we know so far:
Edwina Sharma is a charming, beautiful girl coming out among the Ton after coming to England with her mother and sister having grown up in India. She will be played by British actress Charithra Chandran. She’s gorgeous, young, naive, and (obviously) in need of a husband - and as the diamond of the season, Anthony Bridgerton has his eye on her. Uh, oh, will the ton eat her for afternoon tea?
Kate will be played by British actress Simone Ashley (Sex Education), and is in London to support her sister’s campaign to marry well. She is said to be head-strong, clever, and as the books tell us, sparks fly quickly between her and Anthony Bridgerton – with sharp-tongued, capable Kate giving as good as she gets. We can already feel the tension between them vibrating over the card table.
Lady Mary Sharma
The mother of Kate and her sister Edwina will be played by British actress Shelley Conn. Although the daughter of an Earl, she once brought a scandal upon her family when she married a man beneath her social standing. Now, after her beloved husband’s death, she’s back and is prepared to face high society for the sake of her daughters. Will she find forgiveness among the unforgiving scandal-lovers of the Ton?
Bridgerton series two is on Netflix from March 25