Why did Bridgerton recast Francesca in season 3?

Hannah Dodd has replaced Ruby Stokes as the sixth Bridgerton sibling

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in Bridgerton season 3
Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton in season 3 of Bridgerton, where she will make her debut in the role after taking over from Ruby Stokes. (Netflix)

It's no secret that the Bridgerton family is a large one in the Netflix series, in fact it's what will almost certainly guarantee its longevity on the streaming platform. But with eight siblings to keep track of onscreen, viewers may not have quite taken notice of all of them yet — including Francesca.

In the show's first two seasons Francesca has been a largely absent figure, appearing every so often in large family scenes but otherwise having her absence explained away as her studying music in Bath. It's the reason why some viewers may not realise that the actor playing Francesca has changed, and she is set to make her mark in season 3.

Between seasons 2 and 3 the role was recast, with Hannah Dodd playing the part in the new episodes instead of Ruby Stokes.

Ruth Gemmell, Hannah Dodd and Florence Hunt in Bridgerton season 3
Francesca Bridgerton becomes a key focus in Bridgerton season 3 after remaining largely on the sidelines for two seasons. (Netflix)

In season 3, Francesca takes centre stage as she is introduced into society and must contend with the Ton, all it's gossip and all its expectations. This means that viewers get the chance to see firsthand how well Dodd fits into the role and made it her own.

Read more: When is Bridgerton season 3 being released?

Dodd, unlike her character, is not new to the game, the actor has already got a few impressive roles behind her. She began acting as soon as she finished school, landing a lead role straight out the gates in Hulu's Find Me In Paris, which she followed up with the streamer's steamy period drama Harlots.

The actor has worked with Netflix before, as subscribers may recognise her from Anatomy of a Scandal where she played a younger version of series lead Sienna Miller's Sophie. Dodd also starred opposite Millie Bobby Brown in Enola Holmes 2 where she played Sarah Chapman.

Hannah Dodd in the Netflix show Anatomy of a Scandal
Netflix subscribers might recognise Hannah Dodd from Anatomy of a Scandal, amongst other shows. (Netflix)

Dodd's other acting credits include Marvel movie Eternals, and an appearance in the music video for The Fratellis' single Six Days in June.

In an interview with TVLine when she was first cast as Francesca Bridgerton, Dodd shared how much she loved the character and said she jumped into the series by reading her character's book, When He Was Wicked, because she "didn't know what [she'd] got [herself] in for".

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"I needed to read that as soon as possible," she told the publication. "It's such a beautiful book, and she's such a beautiful character. I can't really believe that I get to play her. I know how people feel about her as well, so I'm going to do my best."

Ruby Stokes, Phoebe Dyvenor, Will Tilston, Florence Emilia Hunt, Ruth Gemmell, Luke Thompson and Jonathan Bailey in Bridgerton season 2
Ruby Stokes (left) originally played Francesca Bridgerton in season 1 and 2 but had to leave the role due to her filming commitments for Lockwood & Co. (Netflix)

The answer to this is simple, Ruby Stokes was unable to film Bridgerton season 3 because of her prior commitments to Lockwood & Co. which she led alongside Cameron Chapman and Ali Hadji-Heshmati.

As a result of her filming schedules for both shows clashing, Stokes had to leave Bridgerton in order to continue her work in Lockwood & Co. and it was after this that Dodd was brought in as her replacement. Sadly, Lockwood & Co. was cancelled by Netflix shortly after the release of its first season, which is a shame for Stokes who could have returned to Bridgerton.

But with hindsight everything seems simple, doesn't it? So instead let's look ahead to what's to come, and anticipate Dodd's debut in the role.

Bridgerton season 3 part 1 is out now on Netflix, and part 2 will premiere on Thursday, 13 June.