All the secrets and scandals of Bridgerton season three

From recasting to hidden messages, here’s all you need to know about the hit show!

Dearest gentle readers, “the ton” is abuzz with excitement as Bridgerton returns to our screens with season three. With the new social season upon us, Penelope Featherington (played by Nicola Coughlan) is set to catch the eye of several suitors this series. But as this author knows all too well, the course of true love never runs smooth, and season three is filled with secrets and scandals that would even surprise Lady Whistledown! Here Woman’s Day uncovers them all…

Francesca’s new face

One of the biggest scandals to rock the Bridgerton set this season was when Francesca Bridgerton was recast. The original actress to portray the character, Ruby Stokes, was unable to appear due to scheduling conflicts. So, Enola Holmes 2 star Hannah Dodd was brought in to play the Bridgerton sibling. Fans were outraged by the decision, but Hannah’s casting was warmly welcomed by her co-stars. Although that didn’t stop her from being terrified to join the show!

“It’s got to be pretty intimidating to step into this world, especially with all these actors knowing one another,” director Tom Verica says. “She revealed later in the season that she was just absolutely terrified, which we didn’t see at the time, but we kind of assumed that stepping into this environment could be very tough. We were very clear about welcoming her and making her feel at home.”

Hannah has stepped into the role of Francesca Bridgerton.

She’s all that

The talk of the ton has been Penelope’s glow-up and the inspiration behind it came from the classic ’90s rom-com She’s All That.

“A makeover is a huge trope in the rom-com genre, so it felt right,” showrunner Jess Brownell says. “We talked a lot in the writers’ room about She’s All That, which is one of my favourite movies. There’s this iconic moment where Rachael Leigh Cook walks down the stairs. She’s taken off her glasses, she’s put on a red dress, then suddenly she’s popular and beautiful.”

Fans will no doubt recognise the reference in the first episode, when Penelope comes down the stairs at the Four Seasons Ball showcasing her new look. But the style is more old Hollywood – think silver-screen siren Marilyn Monroe.

Penelope gives herself a makeover, spending all her Lady Whistledown money on clothes!

Missing sister

Phoebe Dynevor shot to stardom after starring in the lead role of Daphne Bridgerton in season one. She was back for season two, but there was a big question mark surrounding her appearance in part three.

Unfortunately, Phoebe has confirmed she’s “sadly not in season three”. She says, “Potentially in the future, but I’m just excited to watch season three as a viewer.” Intriguingly, no reason has been given by Phoebe or producers for her departure.

Queen Charlotte and Lady Danbury are back for another season!

Bridgerton is breaking furniture

Bridgerton is known for its racy love scenes. Rumours that this season is set to get even more explicit are ringing true. Stars Nicola and Luke Newton, who plays Colin Bridgerton, have revealed that they actually broke the furniture on the set while filming their sex scenes together.

“Hell yeah, we did,” Nicola laughs, adding that she and Luke “could have a laugh about it”. The Galway-born Derry Girls actress, 37, says that she requested a watered-down edit of the season to watch with her family. “I’ve requested a PG version for my mammy because I’m not doing that!”

Spill the tea

There’s no better time to discuss the ton’s latest gossip than over tea and cakes, but what many fans don’t know is that the tea the actors are drinking is the real deal. The production team makes gallons of either PG Tips or Tetley for the cast, so every time you see them take a sip from their porcelain cups, they’re actually enjoying a tasty brew. The cast members are also said to enjoy madeleines, lavender shortbread and other snacks during scenes.

Bridgerton season three cast hugging in costume

Bees to Butterflies

For two seasons, the bee motif has been synonymous with the Bridgerton clan. But this time, Penelope has been given her own motif – the butterfly, which symbolises her growth and transformation. Look out for the insects on Penelope’s journal and the grand staircase in the Featherington home.

Nicola Coughlan: ‘Playing the lead terrified me’

Nicola Coughlan in season three of Bridgerton

Taking centrestage as the romantic lead was a terrifying thought for Nicola Coughlan, aka Penelope Featherington.

“Finding out during season two gave me that year to prepare mentally. But it was scary, intimidating and really exciting all at the same time,” she reveals.

Thankfully, the Irish actress didn’t have to do it alone. Luke Newton, who plays Colin Bridgerton, stepped into the role as her suitor.

“I’ve been so lucky to have someone to talk about it with because it’s so crazy,” confesses Nicola. “When we had to shoot our first romantic scene, where I became mesmerised by his eyes, we had the worst fit of giggles in the world!

“One of the most important things with anyone you’re acting with is trust. Luke and I have really deep trust in one another, and that has made this the best experience.”

Season three of Bridgerton streams on Netflix from Thursday.

Get Woman’s Day home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 29% on a magazine subscription.

Related stories