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Top 12 Things to watch if you loved Bridgerton

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On Christmas Day, many families sat down after dinner and put on Bridgerton, which had just dropped on Netflix, expecting a typical period drama. Then, barely two minutes in… there’s explicit outdoor sex. Over the course of the very sexy, entertaining season, we got to know all about the Bridgertons, the Featheringtons,the truth (sort of)…

On Christmas Day, many families sat down after dinner and put on Bridgerton, which had just dropped on Netflix, expecting a typical period drama. Then, barely two minutes in… there’s explicit outdoor sex. Over the course of the very sexy, entertaining season, we got to know all about the Bridgertons, the Featheringtons,the truth (sort of) behind Lady Whistledown, and much more. Now, while we await the inevitable second season, Rory Cashin counts down the best scandal-laden dramas to watch next…

12 DOWNTON ABBEY

Let us get the obvious right out of the way, shall we? There are some very clear influences to be found in the DNA of Bridgerton, and perhaps the clearest of them all stems from Downton Abbey. Featuring a heavily defined class system and more romantic turmoil than you can shake a bodice at, if you turned your nose up at Downton but enjoyed Bridgerton, now might be the time to go back and reassess. It’s worth it even just for Maggie Smith’s scene-stealing turn as the Dowager Countess – a clear inspiration for Lady Danbury’s acid tongue. (Series available on Prime Video; movie available on NOW TV.)

11 GOSSIP GIRL

If you could split Bridgerton right down the middle, then 50pc of it would be Downton Abbey, and the other 50pc would plainly be Gossip Girl. But there are no corsets or social events of the season here, you might decry? True, but the scandalous retelling of gossip by Lady Whistledown is essentially the same set-up as the unknown narration by the Gossip Girl, voiced by someone famous (then, it was Kristen Bell; now, it is Julie Andrews). In both cases, the voice of the narrator is hiding who they truly are. (Available on Netflix.)

10 PRIDE & PREJUDICE

You’ve got options here for some great period romance. You could either go with the six-part BBC classic, which essentially introduced Colin Firth’s hunky broodiness into world, or you could go with the fantastic Keira Knightley-fronted big-screen adaptation. Either way, the telling of Elizabeth Bennet’s trials and tribulations with love in the Georgian era will have you grasping for your pearls thanks to stolen glances and withering put-downs. (Both on Netflix.)

9 BELLE

This little-known movie features Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the titular illegitimate daughter of a navy admiral who is trained and brought up by her aristocratic uncle and his wife, before she grows up to abolish slavery in England. Much like Bridgerton, this movie features the issue of race in a period of time (and a genre of movie) that rarely seems to tackle the subject head-on, and it features a career-making performance by Mbatha-Raw. (Available on Google Play, Rakuten and Sky Store.)

8 BELGRAVIA

Based on a novel by Julian Fellowes – the creator of Downton Abbey – this mini-series is named after an affluent area of London. It begins at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in June 1815, held in Brussels for the Duke of Wellington shortly before the Battle of Waterloo. Twenty-five years later, with the gentry having moved to Belgravia, the secret events that took place at that ball are still being uncovered. Rich families, undercover affairs and illicit love. Perfect. (Available on Sky Store.)

7 THE CROWN

An obvious choice, perhaps, but it is surprising how many people have passed this over, presuming it to be a stuffy, dry drama. As anyone who has watched the show will tell you, that is simply not the case. The most recent series are rapidly catching up to modern-day events, but the earlier seasons are closer in tone to Bridgerton, thanks to the time-period, costumes, and the fact that there’s a queen involved, obviously. (Available on Netflix.)

6 DICKINSON

Telling the story of famous poet Emily Dickinson, this comedy-drama sees Hailee Steinfeld in the title role. Although set in the 1800s, it explores the constraints of society, gender and family with a modern sensibility. With a supporting cast including comedy legend Jane Krakowski as Emily’s mother and rapper Wiz Khalifa as Death, this definitely puts a unique spin on the idea of a period romance drama. (Available on Apple TV+.)

5 HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

At the start of every episode of Bridgerton, you may have noticed a logo for Shondaland. That’s the production company of Shonda Rhimes who has also served as the writer and/or producer for huge hits such as Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice. But her best to date has to be How To Get Away With Murder, thanks to Viola Davis’s staggering central performance and its un-guessable twists and turns. (Available on Netflix.)

4 VANITY FAIR

Not to be confused with the Reece Witherspoon movie from 2004 – which is just about average – this is the much better 2018 mini-series. Olivia Cooke plays Becky Sharp, a cynical social climber who uses her charms to fascinate and seduce upper-class men. Hers is a world of scandalous and scathing socialites, willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want. (Available on Sky Go.)

3 POLDARK

There was a time when you couldn’t move on the internet without accidentally happening across a picture of Aidan Turner as the barely clad, effortlessly handsome Captain Ross Vennor Poldark. Poldark returns home to England after fighting in the American War of Independence, only to discover that his father has died, his estate has gone to ruin, he’s in huge amounts of debt, and the woman he loves has married his cousin. A cheery start. (Available on Netflix.)

2 THE GREAT

The newest entry on this list comes from the same writer as Oscar-winner The Favourite, which will give you a fair indication of the type of show to expect here. It’s very loosely based on the rise of Catherine the Great, Empress of All Russia, played by Elle Fanning. After marrying into royalty, it isn’t long before she begins to plot the murder of her depraved and dangerous husband, played by Nicholas Hoult. That killer instinct eventually led her to be the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. (Available on Sky Go.)

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Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander


Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander

1 OUTLANDER

Outlander tops our list as the only show that can give Bridgerton a run for its money in terms of sexiness. Dublin actor Caitriona Balfe plays a nurse from 1945 who finds herself transported back to Scotland in 1743 where she falls in love with a dashing Highland warrior. There are many, many erotic scenes across the series, so this is absolutely not a show to watch with the parents in the room. (Available on Prime Video.)

Sunday Independent

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