Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page says hit Netflix show is Downton Abbey’s ‘more scandalous sibling’

Show set in Regency-era London is proving a hit for Netflix

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Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page has said he hopes the new Netflix show is providing some “colourful and fluffy” entertainment for fans in lockdown over Christmas.

Based on the bestselling novels by Julia Quinn, Bridgerton was produced by Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Grey’s Anatomy), and follows two high-society families in Regency-era London.

Page, who plays the broody Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, told BBC Breakfast that he viewed the series as “Downton Abbey’s wayward sibling” but “considerably more scandalous”.

“I think the idea we had with Bridgerton was very much in the early conversations, to do something fresh and exciting and entirely more fun, fast, funny and glamorous than has been done before in the period genre,” he said.

“It's kind of meant to be something a bit kind of colourful and fluffy for Christmas, hopefully like a big, warm Regency hug to help you get through a festive period that's been a little bit different for everyone this year.”

Each episode follows Phoebe Dynevor's character, Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family, as she makes her debut on the competitive marriage market.

It also stars Dame Julie Andrews as the voice of Lady Whistledown, an anonymous and mysterious gossip writer.

Page, 30, described the Duke of Hastings, as “tall, dark, broody and thoroughly broken”, adding: “But also very charming when he wants to be.”

He said he particularly wanted to explore why audiences are so drawn to characters such as the Duke of Hastings, along with “our Darcys and our Heathcliffs”, and how to bring in a 21st Century conversation to the role.

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Bridgerton is the first series from Rhimes's production company Shondaland, following her deal with Netflix.

The Independent gave the show four stars, calling it “watchable fluff, with everyone involved refreshingly aware they are producing a piece of entertainment rather than A History of the English-Speaking People”. 

“Nobody’s going to mistake Bridgerton for Austen, but it hardly matters. It looks great, rattles along, and doesn’t ask too much of the exhausted, depressed, locked-down Christmas viewer. A shiny little stocking filler,” the review concluded.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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