TV & Movies

Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan thought ‘nobody would watch’ Netflix’s biggest show

Nicola Coughlan says Bridgerton's success caught her by surprise.

The star, who plays the devious Penelope Featherington in the show, has revealed she was “convinced” nobody would watch the show.

The show was released on Christmas day, and more than 82 million households watched in the first month.

Packed full of romance and a serious helping of saucy scenes, it’s no surprise the series has been a smash hit.

The 34-year-old blonde has talked about the “wild experience” of being on the show.

Nicola was speaking during Advertising Week Europe.

She recalled: “The show came out on Christmas Day, the biggest day of the year anyway, and I just got convinced nobody's going to watch this.”

“It's now just become so huge. Even when I'm not looking for it on the internet it seems to be everywhere, it's a wild experience.”

“The weird thing when you're making a show you have such little a concept of what the reception is going to be or even what you're making.”

“You walk into these ballrooms and everyone looks phenomenal but you don't know what the music is or the shots look like, how your character is coming across.”

The series came out during lockdown, and Nicola jokingly said she thinks that might not have a been a bad thing.

When she was asked if she was sad to have missed out on the hype she said: “Yes and no because I sort of experienced that with Derry Girls. It blew up in its own way and a microcosm in Ireland and then Bridgerton happened and 82m people watched that globally.”

She continued: “So partially I was quite glad I was back in Ireland with my mum when it came out, because those numbers! The only sense I really had of it was through the internet, a very strange thing trying to compute how many people that it…”

The beauty says online negativity can also be tough: “It can be really hard, because I enjoy interacting with people and I feel so grateful to the people who watch the things that I do and I want to say thank you so much, but you can often leave, Twitter especially, leaving so negative.”

“But Pinterest, I don't use it publicly… I never leave it feeling awful.”

She also thinks people have previously looked down on romance stories.

Nicola raved: 'Well its the romance genre, that's consumed primarily by women and hasn't really been seen on TV before, and maybe that's why it made such a splash.

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"With people undervaluing it, and then for it to go on and be Netflix's most watched show is bonkers. Sometimes people think, "just women like", but women are powerful and we say what we like and support what we like.'

Nicola says she's always prioritised playing "interesting" women.

She said: 'I think it comes from wanting to play interesting women, that can mean range of things…

'For Bridgerton, I think for me it's about well written characters, the women I know are so multifaceted and interesting and a lot of women characters on screen have not been that for a long time.

'But this is Shondaland so when you get a script like that you know it's not going to be "this guys girlfriend" – they're not afraid to push the women in their shows to points where they do really bad things or become unlikable…

'I hope we're entering into a period where women are allowed to be unlikable on screen and complex and difficult.'

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