Lady Whistledown Spills The Tea On All The Facts That Need To Be Known About BridgertonBy Abigail T
Dear reader, tis I, Lady Whistledown, returning to satiate your gossipy cravings. As you may recall, last winter, the ton ravished in the tumultuous and unexpected romance which blossomed between Miss Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings. What a pair the two made. Dare I say, we burned for them as much as they burned for each other. This writer knew just how much the ton awaits a continuation to the tale, and so I announced that another installment shall be coming soon. But while we impatiently await the upcoming social season, shall we delve into some secrets and unknown facts regarding the previous season’s production? I shall pass it over to my dear friend, the Writer. But do read on, dear reader. You may be thrilled to learn a thing or two. From, Lady Whistledown.
The voice of Lady Whistledown
Thanks, Lady Whistledown! Now, readers. Whether or not you watched Bridgerton or you know absolutely nothing about it, this is probably the one trivia you should take away. The character of Lady Whistledown is voiced by none other than Julie Andrews.
Andrews is a beloved household name, Academy Award winner, and all-around icon of the film world. You may recognize her from The Sound of Music or The Princess Diaries. The 85-year old recorded the narration for the entire series at a studio in New York.
For those who don’t know, the show Bridgerton is actually an adaptation of the romance novels in the book series Bridgerton, written by Julia Quinn. The novels themselves have been around since the year 2000! There are eight of them in total.
Each novel details the romance of each of the eight Bridgerton siblings. Daphne’s story starts the series with The Duke and I. So, Bridgerton fans, don’t fret. You can cheer up knowing there might be eight seasons to come!
The Regency era
We’re used to watching movies and series set in various eras of English history. The Victorian era is perhaps the most common one we see. And it’s easy to see why some would think Bridgerton is set in the said era, but it is actually set during the Regency period.
The Regency era in British history is the period of time in the 19th century, at the tail end of the reign of King George III. Because of his illness, he was deemed unfit to rule. So his son George IV, the prince regent, ruled by proxy. Hence the title “Regency” era.
Interrupted by the Queen
By now, we’re all familiar with the Duke of Hasting’s moving speech before Queen Charlotte as he asks for permission to expedite the marriage. But did you know that the actual Queen of England interrupted the shoot for this scene?
This scene was shot in the Lancaster House in London. According to the show’s creator, the cast and crew had very limited time to shoot because Queen Elizabeth II needed the space for an event she was hosting.
Sharing locations with The Crown
Speaking of locations, here’s another fun fact. Bridgerton was filmed on some of the same locations as The Crown, Netflix’s other high-rating series about British royalty. Considering the similarities in geographical settings, it only makes sense that this would be the case.
Wilton House in Wiltshire was used for the interior scenes of the Duke and Duchess’s home, as well as Queen Charlotte’s palace in Bridgerton. On The Crown, the producers used the same location for interior shots of Buckingham Palace.
Princess Diana’s influence
Despite Princess Diana’s era taking place centuries after Regency, the timeless icon’s family home actually inspired the interior design for Bridgerton. Show creator Chris Van Dusen visited Althorp Estate during the development process and fell in love with the interior.
The luxurious staircase found in Bridgerton House was inspired by the one Van Dusen spotted at Althorp. It exudes elegance and class, with the blues, whites, and golds running down the center. You can tell the show was not messing around when it came to interior design.
One of the first things we noticed when we started watching Bridgerton was how gorgeous the costumes are. The characters almost never wear the same thing twice. The colors are so bright and vibrant, and they really signify class and taste.
For the first season, there was a total of 5,000 costumes made! To create that amount of costumes, which totaled to about 7,500 separate pieces, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick worked with 238 others. It really does take a village!
Intentional color schemes
Another detail about the costumes on Bridgerton is that each character and each house has specific color schemes assigned to them. In an interview with Vogue, Ellen Mirojnick explained how the colors of the Bridgerton family are “powdery” – pale blues and greens.
On the other hand, the Featheringtons have a different agenda. They are always dressed in very bright, loud colors. This is because Lady Featherington is desperate to marry off her daughters, and she wants them to be easily noticeable in social settings.
Custom portraits at the palace
Bridgerton was filmed in some pretty historic locations, some of which included actual portraits from the Georgian period. However, for a more authentic experience, giant custom portraits of the show’s own Queen Charlotte and King George III were created.
You can see these custom portraits on display a little further into the show, particularly during the scene when Violet Bridgerton walks through the halls of Buckingham Palace. The fact that the paintings are accurate with the people portraying the characters makes everything even more believable.
A breakthrough adaptation
The original Bridgerton novels were a hit in the romance novel genre, a genre that has been looked down on by society. They have very rarely been adapted into new material, particularly for television. So Netflix’s adaptation is a pretty big deal for the romance world.
According to the author of the books, Julia Quinn, the romance genre is a world dominated by women. Written by, read by, edited by, and even published by women. You can understand why this production of Bridgerton is a breakthrough.
Bath instead of London
While the series is set in Regency period London, the production actually shot most of the scenes in Bath, a city west of London. It is not uncommon in film and TV to shoot in places that have nothing to do with the setting of the story.
As it turns out, the locations in Bath fit the bill better than locations in London. Other shots were filmed in historic houses and museums, including Hatfield House and the Holburne Museum of Art. But of course, you’re not even thinking about where it’s shot because you’re so immersed in the world.
Queen Charlotte’s investment in society
Julia Quinn and the production team of Bridgerton worked hard to ensure that many aspects of the show were as historically accurate as possible—from the sets down to the costumes. Of course, with any work of art, there are creative freedoms taken.
But the gossip-y quality of Queen Charlotte, who is highly invested in the goings-on in the society, was apparently historically accurate. According to Chris Van Dusen in an interview with ET Online, Queen Charlotte was “very much a part of the social scene.”
While we’re on the subject of Queen Charlotte, here is another fun fact you should know. Scenes in Bridgerton depicting the Queen partaking in snuff are also historically accurate. The real-life Queen Charlotte enjoyed it so much that she was dubbed Snuffy Charlotte.
In fact, Queen Charlotte did not only enjoy snuff. She was addicted to it! For those who don’t know, snuff is tobacco made of ground tobacco leaves. But you don’t smoke snuff—you inhale it straight through your nose for a nicotine hit.
Queen Charlotte’s Pomeranians
Queen Elizabeth II has her corgis, and Queen Charlotte had her Pomeranians. That’s right. It’s no coincidence that the Bridgerton Queen is always seen with a few poms by her side in almost every shot. This was another thing based on historical facts.
As it turns out, the real-life Queen Charlotte would have so many that she would often give the toy dogs away as gifts for her acquaintances. We wonder how many Pomeranians were hired for the entirety of the production of the first season!
Queen Charlotte’s ethnicity
Apparently, this British royalty has stirred up quite the controversy in her day, with people debating her ethnicity to this day. With the release of Bridgerton, the discourse around her ethnicity has reemerged. According to sources, she may have actually been Black.
According to PBS’s Frontline, the Queen consort was a direct descendent of a Black branch in the Portuguese royal family. Many have speculated that she is the first member of the British royal family who is biracial in ethnicity.
Almost no Queen Charlotte
The most significant difference between the source text and the Bridgerton adaptation is the addition of Queen Charlotte. This character is not present in any of the books in Julia Quinn’s series. But, she was such a brilliant addition that even the author questioned herself.
In an interview with Town and County, Julia Quinn admitted that while she wishes she had put the character in her book. She also knows and also admitted that she can’t do her justice the way the Bridgerton team has done.
Glimpses of Penelope
Spoiler alert! Skip this part if you’re not finished watching the series yet. For those of you who have, you’ll know that Lady Whistledown, who seemed to appear out of nowhere setting the ton abuzz, is actually Penelope Featherington.
You might notice that Penelope is present in some scenes, almost off-camera, gathering intel for the next day’s column. This idea came from Nicola Coughlan, the actress who plays Penelope. The showrunner and writers welcomed this idea gladly.
Julia Quinn, consultant
As the writer of the source material, author Julia Quinn worked on the show as a consultant. She was always on call should the team have any questions regarding the series, whether it’s accuracies with the story or historically.
This is probably because Quinn herself did not write the script for Bridgerton. It’s a smart move on the producers’ part to have the author available for consultation to ensure that everything is as accurate and correct as possible.
Three Locations for the Hastings estate
Oftentimes, a given location is perfect for exterior shots but lacks desirable qualities in its interior. When this is the case, productions will often film at multiple locations to create a wholesome and accurate image of a certain place.
The cast and crew filmed in three different locations for the grand Hastings estate: Syon House in Brentford, Wilton House in Wiltshire, and Badminton House in Gloucestershire. Separate elements from each house came together in the editing to create a cohesive Hastings estate.
While Hastings estate took three different locations to get right, other sets were entirely CGI. One shot, in particular, was computer-generated, namely the established shots of Regency London and the opera house. But sets weren’t the only things that were CG.
If you notice the wisteria and ivy snaking down the gate and face of the Bridgerton house, those are also CGI. The flowers elevate the look of the entire house and are in the same color scheme as the Bridgerton family costumes.
Easter eggs for true fans
Along with Julia Quinn, the showrunners of Bridgerton ensured that true fans of the books can feel seen in the adaptation. They included Easter eggs and little details that would only make sense to people who have read the books.
According to the author, viewers will often see a bumblebee on the screen. While this might mean nothing to the normal audience, readers of the books will understand what the symbol means. Are you one of those loyal fans?
Blending pop with Regency-style
If you watch the dance scenes in Bridgerton, you’ll notice that the music isn’t exactly classical music. Pop music listeners will notice that a string quartet at the party plays hit songs like Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy and Ariana Grande’s thank u, next.
These 21st-century tunes are presented in a Regency-style arrangement, which may be why some people may not recognize them. The production enlisted several ensembles, one of which being the Vitamin String Quartets, to perform these hybrid numbers, and they do an excellent job.
Buckingham Palace reconstruction
Throughout the first season of Bridgerton, exterior shots of Buckingham Palace shows scaffolds and workers doing reconstructions. This detail wasn’t just added willy-nilly. It is actually historically accurate. The royal residence was indeed under construction throughout the year 1813.
The construction depicted in Bridgerton was the process of turning the building from Buckingham Home into Buckingham Palace, and it took a lot of work. This piece of trivia was revealed on Twitter by show creator Chris Van Dusen in a Tweet thread.
A real tea shop
Ah yes. Anyone who has seen Bridgerton has probably had the carnal urge to become the teaspoon that the Duke of Hastings so lazily peruses. But did you know that the tea shop that Daphne and Simon were in actually existed IRL at one point?
Located in London’s Berkley Square, the store was actually a confectionary store called Pot and Pine Apple in the 19th century. It then rebranded to become Gunter’s Tea Shop, which is the tea shop you see in the show.
A premature reveal
Lady Whistledown’s true identity was originally not supposed to be revealed this early in the series. By the end of the first season, we know that she is really Penelope Featherington. But Julia Quinn wasn’t actually aware of the premature reveal until she saw some rough cuts.
At the end of the day, the showrunners felt it wouldn’t make sense to keep the audience waiting for the reveal, especially since many of them would have read the books anyway. We’d argue that even viewers who didn’t read the books could already take a guess!
Wrapped just in time
The COVID-19 pandemic was a big blow to the world, and the film world is not exempt from that. Had Bridgerton started production just a little later, we would not have been able to enjoy it last year. But thankfully, they wrapped up just in time.
The series finished filming just a few short weeks before the pandemic, so they didn’t have to take a hit in the middle of shooting and wait to finish filming. Because of this, we were able to binge Bridgerton together over Christmas last year.
Set in Regency-era London, Bridgerton seems out of place compared to the other shows that its production company has churned out. The show is produced by Shonda Rhimes, the name behind TV hits How To Get Away With Murder and Grey’s Anatomy.
This project is Shondaland’s first major project with Netflix. In 2017, Rhimes signed a $150 million deal with the streaming service for the show. While she was not a showrunner on Bridgerton, she remains Executive Producer of the hit series.
Not new to Shondaland
While it’s the first time for most of the cast working with Shondaland, Regé-Jean Page, who plays the Duke of Hastings, is a Shondaland alumnus. The actor has actually been working in the industry since he was a child.
Regé-Jean’s path has crossed with Shonda Rhimes’s once before. In 2018, Shondaland released a legal drama For the People on ABC, on which Page played the character, Leonard Knox. Just a few years later, he was back with the production company to play Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings.
The Duke’s boxing partner
As the show goes on, it is established that the Duke often spars with a boxing partner from time to time. You may think that this companion is yet another fictional character, but he is actually based on a real-life person.
Simon Bassett’s good friend Will Mondrich is a character based on Bill Richmond, a renowned Black boxer in the 19th century. This explains the similarity in their names. Richmond rose to fame and became the first Black sporting star despite being born as a slave in America.
Black lead characters
Since its release in 2020, Bridgerton has received attention for its inclusive casting, particularly having Black lead characters in a show set in the Regency period. However, according to the original novels, they never alluded to race at all.
The decision to cast diverse actors came from Chris Van Dusen and Shonda Rhimes themselves, who often worked with historians. They discovered that even then, 19th century England was a lot more diverse than people perceived it to be.
While some have praised Bridgerton for its “colorblind casting,” the showrunner disagrees with that term. Chris Van Dusen has said that the term colorblind casting implies the show never considered color and race. In actuality, they are a part of the show.
Inspired by the possibility that Queen Charlotte may have been of mixed race, Van Dusen wondered what that would have meant for the way society looked at the time. He toys around with the idea of the Queen “using her power to elevate other people of color in society,” as he said to The New York Times.
The female gaze
It’s no secret that Bridgerton quickly develops into quite the raunchy show as the romance between Daphne and the Duke blossoms. But the sex scenes are not what viewers normally see on screen, as Chris Van Dusen opted to shoot the scenes from the female gaze.
The scenes are shot to focus on and highlight Daphne’s desires as opposed to Simon’s. This was especially empowering for Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne. “I’m used to seeing the woman drop her clothes for the man who is lying back in bed,” she told The New York Times.
King George’s mysterious illness
Since the show is set in Regency period London, there are mentions of King George and the illness which rendered him unfit to rule. Historians have claimed that the king was bipolar and suffered from porphyria, but this was never explicitly mentioned in the show.
According to Golda Rosheuvel, who plays Queen Charlotte, while King George’s mysterious illness still referenced historical facts, Bridgerton isn’t a biopic. It doesn’t have to be completely accurate. She said it was all just ideas from Chris Van Dusen.
More seasons are coming
In January of 2021, Netflix announced that they are officially renewing Bridgerton for a second season. This is much to the delight of the fans. Even Julia Quinn has said to Town and County that the writers have been “setting things up” for more seasons.
As previously mentioned, there are eight books in the series, each detailing the lives and romances of each Bridgerton child. So we can expect at least seven more seasons of the show should things go as well as they did for the first season!
Anthony Bridgerton takes center stage
It was announced that season 2 will focus on Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest of the Bridgerton siblings. Filming for the second season was wrapped in November, and Netflix has even released the first look of Anthony with his love interest Kate Sharma.
We’re dying to dive into the love life of arguably the most problematic Bridgerton. As Anthony has an unmatched stubbornness, we’re curious to see just the woman who can tie this Bridgerton brother down. While we wait, here are some details we know about season 2!
Kate Sharma is not originally Indian
The show has cast Simone Ashley of Sex Education as Kate Sharma, love interest of Anthony Bridgerton. Previews of the second season show Kate as a member of a rich Indian family, the Sharmas. But the Sharmas were not in the original Julia Quinn novels.
Originally, the character Simone Ashley plays was named Kate Sheffield. She was actually renamed to fit the show’s inclusive casting and Chris Van Dusen’s concept of a diverse Regency London. Historically, it is thought that some British officials who were involved with the East Indian Company would have children with Indian women. Their children would be brought to England to learn the culture.
Regé-Jean Page won’t be rejoining the cast
To the audience’s dismay, the dashing Duke, Regé-Jean Page will not be rejoining the cast for the second season. This only makes sense, as we know season 2 will focus primarily on Anthony Bridgerton’s arc. It’s not that Page left the show, it’s that he wasn’t even expected to return.
The Hollywood Reporter disclosed that Regé-Jean Page’s character was never supposed to be in season 2. Despite this, the show still reached out to Page’s team with an offer, which Page turned down to focus on his other projects.