Bridgerton could not have come at a more perfect time. Premiering over the Christmas season, the Netflix period drama from television juggernaut Shonda Rhimes has been the source of fascination, with millions revelling in the escapist fantasy of debaucherous Regency-era London.
If you binge-watched the entire thing, you might be looking for a quick Bridgerton fix before the inevitable second season rolls around. Well, we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of stories about how the show was made, from assembling the sumptuous costumes to its impressive locations.
So with that in mind, here are some facts about everyone’s favourite scandal-filled period drama. Be prepared for major spoilers.
1. Phoebe Dyevnor and Regé-Jean Page did six weeks of preparation
The actors, who play star-crossed lovers Daphne and Simon, had a lot to learn when it came to embodying their characters. The pair had to take dance, horse riding and etiquette lessons prior to filming, but according to Dyevnor, the packed schedule was actually really helpful.
“I think the thing that actually really helped the chemistry was all the dance rehearsals,” she said. “Because we just spent so much time with our choreographer, Jack Murphy, and loads of time in the studio—just me, Regé, and Jack sort of getting the moves right and dancing and dancing to this modern, fun music. And we just got time to play and sort of form a connection.
2. Those carriage scenes weren’t filmed how you’d expect
Those aristocratic families sure do love to ride a carriage. But we’re afraid to say that we’re about to destroy the illusion: those scenes aren’t real. The carriage scenes were actually filmed on a studio set – plus, the horses aren’t even real! “Usually, it’s just three grips and your mate, Pete [pushing the carriage],” Page revealed. Not quite as grand as horses.
3. Queen Charlotte was a real person
As any Bridgerton fan knows, Queen Charlotte is the scene-stealing monarch – but did you know her character was based on a real royal? Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz ruled alongside King George III, and she’s also believed to be mixed-race.
4. Julie Andrews recorded all of her narration virtually
The legendary actress doesn’t appear on screen, but you can hear her throughout the series as the voice of Lady Whistledown, the 1800s version of a gossip blogger. While the entire cast had to film in London, Andrews was able to record her voice overs over Zoom from a studio in New York. Because of this, a majority of the cast hasn’t actually met Andrews yet, despite beings such a major presence in the show.
“I had such a blast writing the voiceover for Lady Whistledown because she gets to say the most scathing, sometimes insulting things,” showrunner Chris Van Dusen said. “And they're not typical things that you would think that would be coming out of Julie Andrews's mouth."
5. Over 7,500 costumes were made for the series
The lavish costumes of Bridgerton are a visual feast, and it was quite the challenge to create them all. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick purposefully added a modern twist to the Regency era gowns and suits by using an updated colour palette while keeping the classic silhouettes intact. But what’s mind boggling is that around 7,500 costume pieces were custom-made just for the show.
6. Phoebe Dynevor had 104 dresses alone
You read that right. The headstrong daughter of the Bridgerton clan had an extremely packed wardrobe. “I’m in a different outfit in every scene, basically,” Dynevor said. “We counted. I have 104 dresses, which is just madness.”
7. The music was adapted from modern pop songs
Eagle-eyed (or eared?) viewers might have noticed some familiar contemporary hits in the show’s soundtrack including Ariana Grande’s ‘thank u, next’ and Billie Eilish’s ‘bad guy’. These classical reimaginings were performed by Vitamin String Quartet, who are famous for their rock and pop string covers. A Kanye West cover was also planned, but it ended up being cut.
8. One scene had to be filmed quickly because the Queen needed the room
That’s Queen Elizabeth II that we’re talking about here. The cast and crew were short on time when it came to the pivotal scene when Simon confesses his love for Daphne in front of Queen Charlotte because the Queen needed Lancaster House, where they were filming.
We had very limited time to shoot this scene before Her Majesty (the real one) needed the space @ Lancaster House,… https://t.co/1xXLrY7Hkh
9. Nicola Coughlan landed the role of Penelope after just one audition
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Derry Girls star Nicola Couglan as the delightful Penelope Featherington. Luckily, she only needed to audition one time to get the role.
10. She also didn’t know that Penelope was Lady Whistledown until she was cast
Since Coughlan hadn’t read the books before auditioning, she wasn’t aware of the twist surprise that her character is Lady Whistledown. It wasn’t until she asked showrunner Chris Van Dusen that she found out her character’s secret. However, Van Dusen wasn’t even sure if Lady Whistledown’s identity was going to be revealed in the first season. Obviously, that ended up being the case by the end of the season.
11. Coughlan spent two hours in the make-up chair to get Penelope’s look
On top of the delicate costumes and the corsets, there was also the matter of the extravagant wigs and make-up looks to prepare. On her Instagram, Coughlan posted a time-lapse of the lengthy process it takes for her to transform into Penelope Featherington. “For anyone asking the whole process from very scruffy Nicola to Ball-Ready Penelope took about 2 hours,” she said.
While a lot of Bridgerton is pure make believe, certain elements were actually based in fact, including Simon’s sparring partner Will Mondrich, who was based on professional boxer Bill Richmond.
“He found a lot of favour in society due to his charisma and his boxing ability,” said Martins Imhangbe, who portrays Mondrich. “He used boxing as a way out and as a way to provide for himself and his family. In the first season we see the early stages of Will trying to build that reputation and who he is.”
13. Anthony Bridgrton might be the focus of season two
A second season hasn’t been confirmed yet, but if Bridgerton follows the plot of Julia Quinn’s novels as expected, the show will probably follow the eldest Bridgerton sibling, played by Jonathan Bailey.