There is a moment in the final episode of Bridgerton – which landed on Netflix on Christmas Day and promptly became the festive season’s must-watch television show – where we witness what could be referred to in the period drama genre as ‘the speech’. It sees one half of an inevitable couple-to- be turn to the other, following some row or misunderstanding, to proclaim that they love them, just the way they are. Colin Firth got to say it in Pride & Prejudice. Hugh Grant had the pleasure in Sense & Sensibility. In Bridgerton, however, the honour gets taken out of the hands of the man, and put into those of 25-year-old Phoebe Dynevor, the show’s heroine and lead. Her character, Daphne, may live in Regency London, but she is nevertheless a heroine for our time.
‘I love her coming-of-age story and her sexual awakening,’ Phoebe tells Grazia on the eve of our shoot. ‘I love seeing the female gaze and watching her figure it out for herself. She’s a late bloomer, but it’s not like she can google it.’
In a world where everything depends on how many names you have on your dance card, image matters. For Phoebe, it felt oddly contemporary. ‘My sister is nine years younger than I am,’ she explains. ‘She grew up with social media telling her that she had to be like this or that. Bridgerton might not have social media, but Daphne has to present a filtered version of herself, perfect and prim. You can’t live like that forever.’