Here at Telly Visions, we cover British programming. The initial plan was to focus on Masterpiece programming and British imports that air on PBS. But as the landscape has changed drastically, and the streaming era has brought a giant influx of British-made television to America, that brief has expanded to accommodate the changing world. Netflix especially has been a significant importer of British TV. It's been so successful, the streamer has taken to making its own faux-British programming, such as The Big Flower Fight and The Crown.
This brings me to today's trailer for a series called Bridgerton. Fans of romances, British historical novels, and regency comedy-of-manners will undoubtedly have heard of the books from which the series is adapted. Author Julia Quinn has been writing period set books since the mid-1990s, and her Bridgerton books are the most popular of the dozen or so series she's done. The stories, set between 1813 and 1827, focus on fictionalized prominent families among London's high society set during the reign of George IV.
But viewers should come in with an awareness that all this is filtered through an American lens. Quinn is an American author from New England, the producer, Shoda Rimes, is Chicago born-and-raised, and known primarily for hits like Grey's Anatomy. In many ways, this is a show much like Game of Thrones, based on an American's idealization of European history, albeit not filtered through a fantasy setting. But also like Thrones, it's a show positively littered with British actors.
All that being said, the trailer is utterly delicious. Netflix is looking for this to attract the Downton Abbey fandom. After watching shows like Victoria and Beecham House attempt (and fail) to recreate that dynamic, this may be the answer.
Here's the series' synopsis:
Bridgerton follows Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family as she makes her debut onto Regency London's competitive marriage market. Hoping to follow in her parent's footsteps and find a match sparked by true love, Daphne's prospects initially seem to be unrivaled. But as her older brother begins to rule out her potential suitors, the high society scandal sheet written by the mysterious Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews) casts aspersions on Daphne. Enter the highly desirable and rebellious Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), committed bachelor and the catch of the season for the debutantes' mamas. Despite proclaiming that they want nothing the other has to offer, their attraction is undeniable, and sparks fly as they find themselves engaged in an increasing battle of wits while navigating society's expectations for their future.
The cast of Bridgerton is stacked with PBS favorites. The Bridgerton family is seven siblings strong. Along with Phoebe Dynevor (Dickensian), there's Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch), Luke Thompson (Dunkirk), Luke Newton (Mr. Selfridge), Claudia Jessie (Vanity Fair), Ruby Stokes (Da Vinci's Demons), Florence Hunt (Cursed), and Ruth Gemmell (Home Fires), as their mother, Lady Violet. There's also the Featherington clan, who include Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls), Bessie Carter (Beecham House), Harriet Cains (Marcella), plus Polly Walker (Line of Duty) and Ben Miller (Death In Paradise). On top of that, there's the great Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), plus Adjoa Andoh (Doctor Who) and Golda Rosheuvel (Silent Witness) as the older and wiser women of the society set.
Bridgerton's first season arrives on Netflix with eight episodes on Christmas Day, and hopefully will be the sort of British TV special that Americans are looking for this holiday season.