Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan has version with no sex to watch with Catholic family

Nicola Coughlan wearing period costume and holding a fan in Bridgerton
Nicola Coughlan has moved from a supporting role in the hit drama to a more central one - Liam Daniel/Netflix

A PG version of Bridgerton was made so that one of its stars could watch the show with her Irish Catholic family.

Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, said she requested a diluted version of the period drama, devoid of its many sex scenes.

The 37-year-old said Netflix chiefs agreed and “it’s literally written into my contract”.

“People think I’m saying it as a joke,” she told The Sun. “I grew up Irish Catholic, that’s just not how we vibe.”

The newly released third series is expected to continue the show’s success, after the first was viewed by more than 82 million households in its first four weeks and the second became Netflix’s most-popular English language drama.

The romance between Coughlan’s character and her close friend Colin Bridgerton progresses in the new instalment, catapulting her from the fringes of the storyline to the centre.

Having played a supporting character since the show launched in 2020, the Derry Girls actress is still coming to terms with her newfound starring role.

Coughlan said “it was definitely intimidating”, given the show’s large audience, but “the sex scenes were one of the things I enjoyed most”.

Coughlan wearing a white haute couture dress and striking red lipstick
Coughlan said comments about her body had led her to choose to do a naked scene - Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

Speaking of the more romantic scenes with Luke Newton, 31, as Colin Bridgerton, she said: “It’s steamy. I was like: ‘Oh wow, are we really doing that?’”

“There is one where I am very naked on camera and that was my idea, my choice, it just felt like the biggest ‘f--- you’ to all the conversations surrounding my body,” she added.

Earlier this year, Coughlan told Harper’s Bazaar that some people assume she views herself as “hideous” and therefore unsuitable as a choice to play a leading lady.

While she said she was “in disbelief” about the casting, she clarified that she is pleased with how she looks.

Now best known for Bridgerton, Coughlan rose to fame playing Clare Devlin in the Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls. She made a recent cameo in Greta Gerwig’s box office hit Barbie.

Coughlan grew up in the staunchly Catholic county of Galway in Ireland, with its predominant opposition to sex outside of marriage.

She has branched out from her conservative upbringing to campaign for same-sex marriage and abortion rights in Ireland, as well as calling more recently for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“I think you have to be led by your moral compass,” she told The Irish Times in April. “And I don’t want that to sound worthy, but I do feel a massive weight of responsibility.”