Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan on why women have it worse now than in the 1800s

Molly Clayton
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington.
Bridgerton. Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington. Credit: LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

She’s about to appear in a number of risque scenes in the next series of Netflix bonkbuster Bridgerton.

But actress Nicola Coughlan says fans of the Regency-era drama who think attitudes to women and their sexuality have come a long way since the early 1800s are wrong. In fact, she says, women are more than judged than ever.

“It’s more insidious now,” she said.

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“Men can sleep with as many women as they want, but women can’t do the same. It’s not seen on an equal footing.”

Ms Coughlan, 37, who plays Penelope Featherington, had been asked if the drama set between 1813 and 1827 has any relevance to the modern day. She said: “We like to think that we’re so liberal and open, but I think the world is still far more judgmental towards women having agency with their sexuality than it is towards men.”

Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix  2024
Bridgerton. (L to R) Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in episode 302 of Bridgerton. Cr. Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix 2024 Credit: LAURENCE CENDROWICZ/LAURENCE CENDROWICZ/NETFLIX

She told Radio Times: “Penelope’s also the most modern heroine we’ve had because she doesn’t just want marriage and love – she also wants a career.

“Everyone can relate to the love story – but for women it’s hard to have it all. There should be no shame in her wanting everything.”

Bridgerton’s third series, which will begin on May 16, will see Miss Featherington pursue Colin Bridgerton, played by Luke Newton, 31.

The pair have teased that they appear in a number of intimate scenes and Ms Coughlan has previously revealed that she found it “scary” to take on the role.

In March the actress, known for her role in Channel 4’s Derry Girls, said she would not be watching the racy drama with her mother.

She told Ireland’s Six O’Clock Show: “Watch with your mum if you want, I won’t be watching it with mine. I’ll have to get her a separate Netflix account.”

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