It was the gift you never knew you needed, and might even have spurned if you had been offered it in advance: an eight-part Regency romance, set in a candy-coloured England where the wisteria forever blooms around the colonnades of pretty much every stately home you’ve ever seen on film.
But it’s estimated that 63 million viewers around the world will have tuned into Bridgerton in its first four weeks on Netflix – and it is a success owing, in no little part, to the on-off love affair between a brooding duke and the pearl of the season’s debutantes. In its on phases, this is so steamy and intimate that you’d do well to have one of the series’s many feathered fans to hand.
For Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne Bridgerton to Regé-Jean Page’s heart-stopping Duke of Hastings, it has meant keeping a quick hand on the fast-forward at her family home in Altrincham, near Manchester, where she retreated when lockdown came into force just a month after the end of filming. “I’m happy for Mum and Dad to see it, because they know the industry, and they know how hard I worked, and how much it meant to me getting that role. But not my grandparents,” she says. “And with my younger brother… well, it’s awkward.”
It’s a dilemma that might have confronted the very family-oriented Bridgertons themselves, had the dowager and her eight offspring found themselves confined to their mansion in the TV era – except that in their male-dominated household, the spirited Daphne would probably have had to punch her brother in the face to get the remote control off him. She certainly has form with her fists.