TV review: Bridgerton
Netflix is truly on a roll when it comes to churning out bingeworthy female-driven dramas.
Hot on the heels of Emily In Paris and The Queen's Gambit is the equally addictive Bridgerton, a currently streaming soapy, seductive and lavishly filmed period drama about the competitive world of Regency London high society's marriage market, when debutantes are presented at court.
And with events being narrated by none other than Julie Andrews - as the mysterious Lady Whistledown, author of a new scandal sheet - what we get is Pride And Prejudice meets Gossip Girl.
Bridgerton is produced by showrunner Shonda Rhimes, the woman who gave us Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, so you can wager your guineas that a guilty pleasure boasting racial diversity awaits.
Taking centre stage is the prominent Bridgerton family and protagonist Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor, giving off a very Emilia Clarke circa Game Of Thrones vibe), the eldest Bridgerton daughter whose incomparable beauty and poise set her apart as the season's diamond.
Enter hunky rake and committed bachelor Simon Basset aka the Duke of Hastings (Rege-Jean Page, every woman's new dream guy who oozes sex appeal, danger and swagger), who gets off on the wrong foot with Daphne.
The squabbling pair pretend to court for their own agendas, but their ruse turns real and they end up falling madly in love.
The romantic chemistry and sexual tension between Dynevor and Page is off the charts, so that keeps viewers enthralled as situations conspire to keep their relationship fraught with obstacles and misunderstandings.
Expect a fair bit of bodice-ripping too - the steamy sex scenes come fast and furious at the halfway point of the eight-episode series, but it is also when they officially become an item that mundane domesticity sets in and the high drama starts to wane.
Luckily, Bridgerton is also populated with many other interesting characters and scandalous subplots, mostly involving the shameless Featherington women.
Highly enjoyable, too, are the scene-stealing Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) and Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), whose withering one-liners are comparable with that other memorable TV matriarch, Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey.
When it comes to quality television, Bridgerton truly offers up a good match.
STARRING: Phoebe Dynevor, Rege-Jean Page, Jonathan Bailey, Claudia Jessie, Adjoa Andoh
CREATOR: Chris Van Dusen
THE SKINNY: Inspired by Julia Quinn's best-selling novels, the drama sees Daphne Bridgerton (Dynevor) debut on London's marriage market as a new gossip sheet sets high society atwitter and Simon Basset (Page), the eligible Duke of Hastings, returns to town.