27. Feb, 2021


Take a pint of full cream Regency, add a measured amount of Jane Austen (two or three families in a small neighbourhood), a good pinch of Black Lives Matter to ginger it up a bit, and let your bodices rip!  In Bridgerton, the queen consort is black, some of the nobles are black and Our Hero most glamorously so. 

This Duke of Hastings does not, like 'arold', so regal and grand, sit on 'is 'orse with 'is 'awk in 'is 'and.  No.  He leaps from it with throbbing athleticism the moment you clap eyes on him, and at every given opportunity.  He clashes almost at once with Our Heroine (well, it would be rude not to, wouldn't it)?  She is a novice debutante but the diamond of the season and expected to make a great match!  Not with him, obviously.  She has a Big Brother, who knows the Duke for a rake because it takes one to know one.  He might even be a libertine, but it turns out he is a man of misguided principle instead.

Lady Whistledown is the scandal monger and court gossip in chief, a nom de plume for the clandestine writer whose every word is hung upon and whose anonymity is key to her success.  You can't have a cast without set pieces in historical drama land and so we have the pretty one, the blue stocking, the plain but in love one (among the girls), scheming mammas and bachelors so dashing you rarely see any of them standing still.  For contrast, there are some 'orrible but rich old lechers that the girls may be palmed off on.

It's not just any old heap of stock characters, though.  Far from it and when it gets going, it is really very enjoyable.  The locations are splendid and the people are real.  It's racy too, to the point of being steamy.  No decorous proposals halting at a very proper distance from the bedroom door here.  It's all out romping and ripping down the curtains of your four poster at the height of passion in Bridgerton.  This was slightly reduced in impact for me when I read a piece where the lead actress explained they had had a strategically placed yoga ball in between them at critical moments. There were quite a lot of those. Hats off to them for managing a final take of that without falling about laughing.

I had guessed correctly who Lady Whistledown was but don't let me spoil it for you.  Bridgerton is on Netflix and I am very pleased that there will be a season two.  It turns out that Queen Caroline was from the black branch of the Portuguese royal family and portraits of her seem to show that heritage.  Not as much poetic licence taken as you might imagine, then, although I doubt there was a black aristocracy raised up at the time as a result, as explained in one brief aside in the drama.  If you take it as a parallel history, it works very well indeed.  Besides which, they had found an extremely handsome lead actor and what were they going to do with him otherwise?  It wouldn't have been the same if Daphne had had to run off with a footman, in all fairness.  I recommend it as well worth watching.

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