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Voracious Viscount Bridgerton's Jonathan Bailey talks sex scenes and rivalling the ‘Hot Duke’

"I’m really happy. Regé is brilliant. This is an exciting moment for everyone I think,"

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Jonathan Bailey has a Colin Firth moment as Anthony Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Jonathan Bailey has a Colin Firth moment as Anthony Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Jonathan Bailey has a Colin Firth moment as Anthony Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix)

MOVE over, the Hot Duke – as Bridgerton steams up small screens once more, now it’s all about the Voracious Viscount.

Just 48 hours after dropping on Netflix, season two of the British bonkbuster is already the most binged show in the world, after Jonathan Bailey stepped into the hessian boots of former leading man Regé-Jean Page.

While lockdown’s guiltiest pleasure revolved around the Duke of Hastings’ will-they-won’t-they romance with debutante Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, (they most definitely did) the new series focuses on her older brother, Lord Anthony Bridgerton, falling for newcomer Kate Sharma, played by Simone Ashley.

“It’s quite a complicated affair, as we know it always is with Anthony,” Jonathan tells the Sunday World's Magazine+.

“There is a lot that he needs to learn and a lot he can learn from Daphne and Simon.

“I think we all want him to learn how to love himself and hopefully make some mistakes without causing serious hurt to the people that he loves. I want to see him on the dance floor and to see him smile a bit more. There’s so much scope for him.”

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Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley sizzle in Bridgerton

Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley sizzle in Bridgerton

Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley sizzle in Bridgerton

Already a fan favourite since his libidinous turn in season one of the global sensation, based on the book series by Julia Quinn, Jonathan still faced the uneviable task of stepping into the Regé-Jean Page-shaped void left by departure of Simon Basset from the main storyline.

So how did he feel about taking the torch from the man tipped to takeover from Daniel Craig as James Bond, no less?

“Well, I’m really happy to still be receiving messages on Instagram from people saying, ‘I really want Regé to respond, could you just put in a word?’,” jokes the 33 year-old.

“No, I’m really happy. Regé is brilliant. This is an exciting moment for everyone I think.

“We are all so close anyway, so I know I have got support if I need it and that I will always have somebody at the end of the phone.

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"There’s going to be moments where that is needed I think.”

Galway star Nicola Coughlan, revealed as Lady Whistledown in the season one finale, also returns to the show as Penelope Featherington, alongside Claudia Jessie as best pal Eloise Bridgerton and Golda Rosheuvel as gossip-hungry Queen Charlotte.

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Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix)

And Englishman Jonathan, previously best known for his Laurence Olivier Award -winning role in West End musical Company, says the gang are still processing the Regency era romp’s runaway success.

Famed for its colourblind casting, Bridgerton remains the most watched new show ever on Netflix, with 82 million households worldwide checking out Shonda Rhimes’ adaptation after it debuted on Christmas Day 2020.

“It’s completely nuts,” says Jonathan. “I don’t think you can possibly get your head around it. This has been such a unique experience for us all.

“It sort of like being the frontman of a glam rock band in the ‘80s. It’s great. To reimagine history like we do is brilliant.

"You just have to approach it and put as much of yourself and your modern sensibilities into the characters as possible so that you can go in and be truthful.”

Is part of the bodice-ripper’s appeal sizzling sex scenes between gorgeous young stars? Corset is, admits Jonathan – but the help of an intimacy coach ensured there were no awkward moments between the actor and Sex Education alumna Simone.

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Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley arriving for Bridgerton premiere (Yui Mok/PA)

Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley arriving for Bridgerton premiere (Yui Mok/PA)

Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley arriving for Bridgerton premiere (Yui Mok/PA)

“I cannot believe there was a time when they weren’t included in the process,” says the actor, who has in the past opened up about how he feared being gay could damage his leading man chances.

“They basically come in, you talk about your personal experiences and any boundaries that you might have before you then deal with the actual scene.

"Then you talk it through with the actor so, before the director or anyone else comes in, you have an idea of exactly what you are doing. The ice is thawed and then they get easier and easier.

“You do really need to get on,” smiles Jonathan, whose character was last seen in a doomed relationship with opera singer Siena Rosso (Sabrina Bartlett). “I’m excited to vicariously fall in love again with another amazing actress.”

But while his sister Daphne settles into married life, ‘man of the house’ Anthony still has some growing up to do, he adds: “There are still a lot of conversations that need to be had about men in power.

“Hopefully Anthony is somebody who makes people realise that some men just don’t have what it takes.”

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