Luke Newton and Nicola Coughlan open up about moving from the sidelines to the romantic leads in ‘Bridgerton’ season 3

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in “Bridgerton“ season 3. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in “Bridgerton“ season 3. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Published Jul 5, 2024


I’ve been a die-hard fan of Shondaland’s period romance, “Bridgerton”, since season one.

I will never forget how fans were left swooning over Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, and how disappointed they were to learn he wasn’t returning to the franchise.

His love story with Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) left viewers breathless.

But they got over it as soon as the second instalment aired, where the unconventional love story between Anthony Bridgeton (Jonathan Bailey) and the feisty Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) took root.

That being said, I wasn’t entirely convinced that a union between Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton), the third Bridgerton son, and Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan), the youngest Featherington daughter, would live up to fans’ expectations.

Having watched the entire third season, I will admit to being hasty in my assumptions.

Both actors held their own as the leads. And the script delivered when it came to the drama, deception, betrayal, jealousy and, of course, romance.

In a chat with Newton and Coughlan, the actors unpacked their journey on the show and what it was like to go from being on the sidelines to the front and centre of the storyline.

The third instalment opens with Colin returning with unmistakable confidence and swag from his travels.

Penelope, boasting a noticeably more sophisticated wardrobe, is doggedly focused on one goal: finding a husband.

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in “Bridgerton“ season 3. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024

Unpacking the different confidence levels of their characters, Newton explained: “I think what I loved this season is Colin got his experience from his travels that he has always wanted to have as a man. He has grown up. He has lived that gap year that he has wanted to have.

“Coming back to the Ton, he feels like he owns something that no one else has had. That gives him that confidence. He has been charming people across Europe, so, he feels like he can come back and give Penelope some wise words of advice.”

Coughlan added: “She comes back with a lot of resolve. She decides that she’s going to forget about love and romance and all of those silly things and find a husband and move on with her life and write her column in peace.

“But then, she tries to get this new look and thinks that is going to make her confident and then, very evidently and very quickly, she realises that is not how that works cos she still feels very insecure.

“She doesn’t really know how to talk to people. But what I love about this season is that you see both Colin and Pen grow their confidence together and start to become comfortable with who they are.”

That said, though, Penelope has a few choice words for Colin on his return. Let’s just say, she overheard his not-so-flattering conversation about her.

His charm wears down her anger after he offers to be her “husband whisperer” with his worldly advice.

As for Penelope’s struggles, Coughlan noted: “In season one, she tried to keep her life in lots of separate boxes. Colin was in one, Eloise (Colin’s sister, played by Claudia Jessie) was in another, Lady Whistedown in one and her family in another, but, as time moves on, you see that all these things start to meld together as she realises that she can’t keep them as separate as she once did.”

Aside from her fallout with her BFF Eloise, Penelope catches the eye of Lord Debling (Sam Phillips), much to the dislike of both Colin as well as Cressida Cowper (Jessica Madsen), who is desperate to find a suitor.

On how they felt carrying the show this season, Newton shared: “It is something I enjoyed most this season; really diving into that character arc against a range of emotions.

“We’ve been very used to being at the side of the ball, gossiping about those around us. But getting to dive in and explore new things about that story was my favourite part.

Jessica Madsen as Cressida Cowper and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in “Bridgerton“ season 3. Picture: Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2024.

“After we finished the show, we got to go back and pick up a few more scenes. To me, that felt like a gift to be able to go back and still lead the show. It is something unique to ‘Bridgeton’ in that you only get to do it once and it is your moment to live in it and appreciate it and you pass it on to the next.”

His co-star felt the same.

She shared: “It was a massive privilege to lead this show. I keep using sports analogy to many people, but I feel like we left everything on the pitch.

“When I watch it back, I go, I wouldn’t change that and I so rarely feel like that. I’m very self-critical and I’m always like, I could have done this or this.

“I’m so deeply proud of it and I’m so glad we did this together.”

As always, every season ushers in fresh faces to elevate the story dynamics and the third offering was no different.

Both actors loved the energy brought in by the new talent.

If you haven’t watched the latest season, do yourself a favour and do so. It’s deftly directed with the characters compellingly channelling the drama, comedy, suspense and romance, in the respective story arcs.

Also, the friends becoming lovers angle manifests beautifully in Colin and Penelope’s journey.

∎ “Bridgerton” season 3 is streaming on Netflix.