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Netflix series Bridgerton is proving to be a huge hit with viewers across the globe. The show is set in the Regency Era in England and takes its cue from American author Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novel series. But how much of what is depicted on screen was true to life?
How historically accurate is Bridgerton?
Although Bridgerton is a period piece, very little is based on real historical events.
Bridgerton’s showrunner Chris Van Dusen told media including Express.co.uk: “Bridgerton – it’s not a history lesson, it’s not a documentary.
“There were not actually any real Bridgertons in 1813 Regency London as far as I know.
“We honoured the history, of course, but we’re not beholden to it. It’s a reimagined world and what we’re really doing is marrying history and fantasy in what I think is a really exciting way.”
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Will Hugh-Jones, who serves as the production designer on the show, echoed his words, saying: “At the end of the day, we’re not a historical show.
“We do a nod to the history but we’re storytellers and so we would always be as historically accurate as we can, but if it doesn’t work for the storyline then we re-assess but as much as possible we keep true to history.
“Quite often, history’s a bit boring and we’re about doing something vibrant and something which is accessible to our audience. Those are always the primary goals we’re always pushing for.
“Sometimes history does get in the way but we try to keep as historically accurate as we can until it’s not convenient.”
On the surface, Bridgerton is a quaint, quintessential period drama but the show is so much more with the programme-makers setting out to make a costume drama with a contemporary edge to it.
Even the soundtrack features instrumental versions of pop songs such as Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift underscoring the melding of the modern with things from the period.
The costumes also drew on the Regency era and yet at the same time, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick explained how elements were taken from different eras.
Ultimately, Bridgerton sought to create its “own style” with the silhouettes of the era retained but bolder shades and shinier materials used for the costumes, creating a glossy and hyper-real take on the time period.
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The end result came closer to garments akin to haute couture likely to be seen in a Vogue spread or on a runway in Paris or Milan.
She explained: “So there was nothing left to chance. We happened to have amazing craftspeople and artisans, who were able to recreate exactly what was but then have the imagination to extract it and bring it into a new way of looking at it: a new colouration, a new fabrication and that all stays within our theme of keeping everything fresh.”
Saying this, there are some things which were true to history in terms of the social mores of the time and the esteem and value placed on a woman’s chastity and virtue.
The show also picks up on the decadence and glamour of the era, particularly in its depiction of the upper crust of society.
Additionally, the depiction of Queen Charlotte (played by Golda Rosheuvel) seems to be rooted history with the monarch thought to have had African ancestry.
Queen Charlotte and her marriage to King George III (James Fleet) was indeed a love match rather than one arranged for political or diplomatic convenience.
Despite their long and happy marriage, towards the end George’s mental health issues left the couple leading separate lives – another thing touched upon in Bridgerton.
She is also said to have addicted to snuff, something which is alluded to in the series.
All in all, Bridgerton is never presented as a historical drama which seeks to achieve realism but delves into fantasy and a dream-like version of Regency England.
Bridgerton is streaming on Netflix now
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