Brixton-based actor Adjoa Andoh plays Lady Danbury – a leading role in Bridgerton, the Netflix Christmas blockbuster. She talked to Leslie Manasseh about the production and her role in it.
Set in Regency England, Bridgerton promises to be a lavish tale of love, lust, intrigue and betrayal amongst the rich and powerful of the early 19th century.
High production values, fabulous frocks and witty, acerbic dialogue should make for a viewing feast on Christmas Day. And as so many of us will be staying at home, we can enjoy the full eight episodes in one go.
The series is based on the the novels of Julia Quinn and the plot, like so many costume dramas, centres on the marriage prospects of a rich young lady, Daphne Bridgerton.
A host of flamboyant characters swarm, party and plot around this simple narrative device.
Adjoa’s character, Lady Danbury, is a rich dowager, powerful enough to be independent and very much “a front foot character”.
She has the ear of the Queen and is heavily involved in the alliances and plotting around the marriage of one of society’s most eligible young women.
As many of the leading characters are played by Black actors, Bridgerton has inevitably prompted a debate about colour-blind versus colour-conscious casting.
Adjoa has very clear views about this: “it is very much colour-conscious casting”.
Obviously individuals got their roles on the basis of talent, “but no-one pretends that everyone has the same colour skin. It’s just not the main focus – merely a reflection of today’s diverse world.”
Of course, traditional historical costume dramas tend to paint 19th century Britain as white.
This was not the case as there were many races and colours amongst the population at all levels. Indeed Queen Charlotte, wife of George III and mother of the Regent, was herself of mixed race with African heritage. She has been called Britain’s first Black queen.
Adjoa also points out that, while the story takes place in the world of 200 years ago, it nonetheless touches on issues and debates which are very much alive today – such as feminism, gender identity and LGBT concerns.
She described Bridgerton as “delicious entertainment -– a glamorous, romantic romp but which is broader and richer than normal”.
Overseen by producer Shonda Rhimes and written by Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton, coming to your TV on Christmas Day, could be the hit of the season.