Bridgerton season 3's stars on swan wigs, scheming and bringing the steaminess back to the regency romp

Bridgerton season 3's stars on swan wigs, scheming and bringing the steaminess back to the regency romp

At the end of filming Bridgerton season one, Nicola Coughlan bought her co-star Luke Newton a t-shirt. “It said chaps on tour, and on the back it said ‘chaps, chaps, chaps.’ Like lads, lads, lads,” Coughlan laughs – because as we all know, Newton’s character Colin, with his penchant for Georgian-era travel, is “such a gap yah boy”.

But now, the pair are swapping t-shirts for long leather coats, sideburns and brushed out curls as they prepare to take centre-stage in the newest season of Bridgerton.

The hit show, which follows the love lives of the Bridgerton family and those closest to them, has returned for a third season. Each series, the protagonists change, and this time around, the people in the spotlight are Luke Newton’s Colin, the third-oldest son in the family, and Penelope Featherington, played by Coughlan.

They’re both aware what a massive responsibility it was. “We'd been preparing for it quite for a good couple of years and we knew during season two,” Newton says. “But nothing can really prepare you for that for that first day on set.”

“No, it's terrifying,” Coughlan agrees. “In season one or two you've just seen Pen pining over Colin and him not reciprocating it, but then I think the moment that we started to get into it I was like, ‘Yeah, we're good.’”

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton (Netflix)
Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton (Netflix)

The drama, as ever, revolves around marriage – specifically, Penelope’s desire to find a husband in a world where social status revolves around who can bag the best husband.

“This is a show set in sort of an imagined past, but it has a lot of the same issues still,” Coughlan says. “That pressure [to marry] was real and I think you feel that.

“It’s her driving force at the beginning of this season: like, if she doesn't get married, she is going to be stuck with her mum and sisters forever. She is going to be the bottom of the totem pole, miserable.”

The only problem is, Penelope is somewhat of a social pariah in the Bridgerton world, so naturally, she enlists her old friend Colin Bridgerton to help out and make her “marriage material”. And the result, as we all know, might just be romance.

Watching the pair promenade around in their finery is one thing. But Bridgerton is famous because of its steamy sex scenes – the scenes that sent the internet into meltdown during the hard months of the pandemic, when it first came out – and, after a slightly lacklustre second season, things are apparently very much back on track in season three.

“It was really scary because obviously we've been friends for years and, you know, thinking about kissing your friend is kind of a terrifying prospect,” says Coughlan. “But we went with it and we had an incredible intimacy coordinator who helped us feel like we had a lot of agency.”

As a result, she says, those scenes “were some of the most fun things to film because we felt so in control.”

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton star in series three of Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix/PA) (Netflix)
Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington, Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton star in series three of Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix/PA) (Netflix)

“We would laugh about the situation really,” Newton adds. “I remember the first time in the intimacy stuff that we were… actually, I don't know how much I can say, but I just basically had to just prepare Nicola, because if she saw this for the first time on camera she was going to just laugh at me.”

“He only had something on the front of his body and nothing on the back,” Coughlan chimes in gleefully.

Romance aside, there’s another central relationship for season three – that between Penelope and Eloise, played by Claudia Jessie. The pair fell out when Eloise discovered that her erstwhile best friend was secretly the poison-quilled Lady Whistledown, purveyor of scandal.

“We’ve kind of swapped dynamics really,” Newton says. “We've had the same dynamic for two seasons and then we get to now it starts to evolve, and it almost flips for Penelope and Eloise, where they’re not getting on.”

But it’s not just the youngsters who are getting a look-in: this season also features plenty of material for the show’s older stars, especially Golda Rosheuvel’s Queen Charlotte and Ruth Gemmell’s Violet Bridgerton, who is, as Gemmell coyly puts it, “beginning to embrace life a little more.”

“I am slightly bored at the beginning of season three, and looking to shake things up a bit. And to obviously keep finding Lady Whistledown and tracking her movements,” Rosheuvel adds.

What might be keeping her busier is managing to keep upright under the weight of Queen Charlotte’s elaborate outfits, which scale new heights of intricacy this season.


“This season, we’re talking about the swan wigs,” she says – by which she means a massive, metre-tall wig which boasts clockwork swans inside, that the Queen wears at a pivotal ball in season three.

“That was two years in the in the making, so that was really lovely to kind of finally realise Erica [Okvist, the hair and makeup designer]'s dream to actually have something mechanical happening in the wig.”

Are the costumes heavy? “Yes,” she says impassively. “I do weight training three times a week.”

And with the show nearly set to come out, what are its two main stars most looking forward to showing the world?

“I think just the different the different sides to their relationship,” Newton says. “There's so many. It's not just an instant flip like we're back and forth. So, I think it's the journey that they go on together.”

Bridgerton part one airs on Netflix on May 16; part two will air on June 13