All anyone is talking about it the elephant in the room – or the absence of elephant. I’m talking about the loss of the glorious, mouth-wateringly sexy, master of the single raised eyebrow that was Rége-Jean Page as Simon, Duke of Hastings, in Bridgerton series 1. Yep, Simon has pulled out for the last time.
Don’t hate me, but as a reader of the source material, Julia Quinn’s octuplet series about the love lives of the eight Bridgerton children, I’m OK with his departure. This is because I can happily predict that by the closing credits of episode 1, series 2, I will be swooning over a new story. I am so confident because this is what happened when I read the books. Leaving Simon and Daphne to their happy ever after at the end of The Duke and I broke my heart. I was certain the second book couldn’t compare. But a chapter or so into Anthony and Kate’s story in The Viscount Who Loved Me I was all ‘Simon and Daphne who?’
In The Viscount Who Loved Me, Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey, he of the energetic tree bonking scene in the first episode of series one) has decided it is time to marry, and turned his eye towards Edwina Sheffield, the sweet and naïve belle of the season. Edwina’s headstrong older sister Kate, all too aware of Anthony’s rakish reputation, does her best to prevent the match … and in the process, gets much closer to Anthony than she ever intended.
True to series one, Shonda Rhimes will continue recast Regency London in racial diversity, this time with a focus on British Indian characters. Kate becomes Kate Sharma, and will be played by Simone Ashley (Sex Education), while Charithra Chandan (Alex Rider) will take the role of Edwina and Shelley Conn (Deep State) will be their mother, Lady Mary Sharma, who once scandalised the ton by marrying (gasp!) a tradesman.
Two male characters, not in the books, have also been added: Calam Lynch will play Theo Sharpe, a high-minded working-class printer’s assistant, and Rupert Young a man known only as Jack at this stage – though pre-publicity promises he has a link to one of London’s first families.
Rest assured that Lady Whistledown/Penelope will continue to gossip, the family will continue to bicker, the frocks will be flounced and the ball rooms full. If the book is anything to go by, more of the Bridgerton family’s back story will be revealed, too – the sad tale of the death of the previous viscount, Anthony’s father, to a bee sting at the young age of 38. (Anthony’s consequent fear of bees drives a crucial episode the story.)
And when Anthony and Kate find their HEA, we will all agonise because it means their plotline is at an end … but then will come Benedict. Bridgerton keeps on giving.