In a nutshell:
The Shonda Rhimes hit will return in all its candy-coloured, feather-strewn glory, with the spotlight on the slow-burning romance between Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington, as well as the early days of Kate and Anthony Bridgerton’s marriage.
Is Bridgerton Season 3 based on a book?
Yes. The Netflix sensation’s first season, which centred on Daphne and Simon’s romance, was based on the first novel in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, The Duke and I, while Season 2, which followed Anthony and Kate, took its plot from the second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me. As a result, fans had assumed that Season 3 would track Benedict’s path to wedded bliss as laid out in the third book, An Offer From a Gentleman, but on 15 May 2022, Variety reported that this would not be the case. Instead, the show would be skipping ahead to explore Colin and Penelope’s relationship further, as Quinn does in the fourth book, Romancing Mr Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan herself confirmed the news during a Netflix panel discussion in Hollywood, adding, “I have kept that secret since two weeks into Season 2.”
More details were revealed by Coughlan and her co-star Luke Newton, who plays Colin, via Netflix shortly after the event, including the reason for the change in the running order. “I feel like if you see Penelope fawning over this boy for another season, you’ll be like, ‘Get it together! Come on, move on and get over it,’” said Coughlan. Of what she knows of their story so far, she said, “I think people are going to be really obsessed. I think book fans are going to be happy.”
Meanwhile, Newton acknowledged that many viewers were, of course, unhappy with Colin after the Season 2 finale, in which Penelope overheard him telling a group of friends that he would “never dream of courting” her. He believes this was just a “throwaway comment” from Colin, but says that what really matters is “how important it is to the audience and how important it is to Penelope”. The press release then adds that, “It’s possible Colin’s wilful obliviousness is the biggest obstacle to romance heading into Season 3. After all, Colin isn’t currently pursuing anyone at all”.
In Romancing Mr Bridgerton, Colin returns from his travels and begins to see Penelope in a whole new light, but the pair are prevented from getting together by the momentous secrets they’re hiding from each other. While it’s almost certain that Season 3 will feature Colin discovering that Penelope is Lady Whistledown, as Eloise already has, it’s also likely that other aspects of the plot will deviate from the source material. After all, in the show, Colin comes back to the Ton in the second episode of Season 2, and Lady Whistledown’s identity is revealed at the end of Season 1, unlike in Quinn’s novels, where readers are kept in the dark until the fourth book.
The log line for Season 3 reads: “Penelope has finally given up on her long-held crush on Colin after hearing his disparaging words about her last season. She has, however, decided it’s time to take a husband, preferably one who will provide her with enough independence to continue her double life as Lady Whistledown, far away from her mother and sisters. But lacking in confidence, Penelope’s attempts on the marriage mart fail spectacularly.
“Meanwhile, Colin has returned from his summer travels with a new look and a serious sense of swagger. But he’s disheartened to realise that Penelope, the one person who always appreciated him as he was, is giving him the cold shoulder. Eager to win back her friendship, Colin offers to mentor Penelope in the ways of confidence to help her find a husband this season. But when his lessons start working a little too well, Colin must grapple with whether his feelings for Penelope are truly just friendly. Complicating matters for Penelope is her rift with Eloise, who has found a new friend in a very unlikely place, while Penelope’s growing presence in the Ton makes it all the more difficult to keep her Lady Whistledown alter ego a secret.”
Will the cast of Bridgerton Season 2 return for Season 3?
Alongside Coughlan and Newton, most of Bridgerton’s Season 2 cast will also be back for Season 3, including Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell), Lady Portia Featherington (Polly Walker), Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) and much of the Bridgerton clan—Benedict (Luke Thompson), Eloise (Claudia Jessie), Hyacinth (Florence Hunt) and Gregory (Will Tilston) among them. Phoebe Dynevor’s Daphne, however, is likely to be absent—when asked by Screen Rant in January 2023 if there was anything exciting coming up for her character in Season 3, the actor replied, “Sadly not in Season 3. Potentially in the future, but Season 3 I’m just excited to watch as a viewer.”
The good news, though? Simone Ashley—who dazzled as Kate in Bridgerton’s latest instalment—will be returning. “Kate and Anthony are just getting started,” she told Deadline back in March 2022. She then elaborated further on what fans can expect in her British Vogue December 2022 cover interview. “We’re filming a dance this week and tonally, it’s so different—sweet, endearing and light, compared to the heaviness of their story last season,” she said. The actor also added that we would see Kate settle into the role of viscountess. “Even though she comes across as fierce, people like that are sometimes the softest on the inside. They develop that skin because they’re vulnerable. You see her insecurities and fears. She’s nervous and I think there’s strength in admitting that.”
Who will be joining the cast for Bridgerton Season 3?
On 12 May, it was revealed that Hannah Dodd would succeed Ruby Stokes in the role of Francesca Bridgerton (Stokes is leaving the show to star in Netflix’s Lockwood & Co). Dodd will be familiar to those who binge-watched Anatomy of a Scandal—she played the younger version of Sienna Miller’s character as she navigated Oxford University in the ’90s. Then, on 20 July, came the news that three new cast members had entered the fray: Daniel Francis as Marcus Anderson, a charismatic presence who lights up any room he enters, attracting the notice of certain matriarchs in the Ton and the ire of others; Sam Phillips as the eccentric Lord Debling, whose wealth and title mean he’ll have no shortage of interest from young ladies this season; and James Phoon as Harry Dankworth, who lacks wit and intelligence but more than makes up for it with his serious good looks.
Another update followed on 14 October: the casting of Hannah New, best known for playing corseted saloon owner Eleanor Guthrie in Starz’s adventure epic Black Sails, as Lady Tilley Arnold. A firebrand who was widowed at an early age, she enjoys the privileges and power that come with being at the helm of her former husband’s estate, living life on her own terms with financial independence and sexual freedom. With further updates expected in the coming weeks and months, it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for announcements.
Who will be behind the camera for Bridgerton Season 3?
There will be changes behind the scenes, too. For Season 3, Jess Brownell, who has previously penned episodes of Scandal and Inventing Anna as well as earlier seasons of Bridgerton, will be taking over the position of showrunner from Chris Van Dusen. “Bridgerton will always have a special place in my heart and I think I did what I set out to do,” the latter told the Radio Times in an interview in March 2022. “The fact that this show has become Netflix’s biggest English-language series ever is something I’m incredibly proud of. But, at the end of the day, it was time for me to move on.” The Bridgerton veteran will, however, remain on board as an executive producer alongside Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Tom Verica, meaning it’s unlikely that the tone or visual style of the show will change significantly in Season 3.
Is there a release date for Bridgerton Season 3?
The next season of Bridgerton is due to land—like The Crown—in two parts: the first four episodes will premiere on 16 May, with the next four landing on 13 June.
What do we know so far about Bridgerton Season 4?
Netflix has, of course, already renewed Bridgerton for a fourth season, though its focus is not yet known. If it does take the third novel, An Offer From a Gentleman, as its source, then the spotlight will be on the artistic Benedict, who falls for Sophie Beckett, the daughter of an earl who’s been hidden away from the Ton and forced to work as a housemaid by her vicious stepmother. After Sophie sneaks into Lady Bridgerton’s annual masquerade ball, she and Benedict have a Cinderella-meets-Romeo-&-Juliet moment, with Benedict enchanted by the masked beauty. When she later flees, he vows to track her down by any means possible.
How many seasons of Bridgerton will there be in total?
Bridgerton is expected to run for eight seasons, with each instalment focusing on a different sibling. Following Daphne, Anthony, Colin and Benedict, the show should theoretically move on to Eloise, Francesca, Hyacinth and Gregory, giving each of them their own happy endings.
How should I entertain myself until Bridgerton Season 3 premieres?
Start by rewatching the first two seasons; listen to the official podcast; devour the spin-off, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story; read Quinn’s novels; and then work your way through our list of the best period dramas of all time.
This article was first published on British Vogue.