How ‘Bridgerton’ recreates Polin hand-wrapping moment

Touch-a, touch-a, touch-me, I wanna be fliiiiirty…

In the world of Bridgerton, even the grazing of knuckles can be a major romantic moment (even if there is also plenty of sex). That’s why new showrunner Jess Brownell knew she had to include a memorable scene from the novel on which season 3 is largely based, Romancing Mister Bridgerton.

In the book, Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) catches Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) reading his travel journals and in a pique of anger, he cuts his hand on a letter opener. Penelope wraps it for him, first with a handkerchief, then a napkin. This is the first time Colin begins to notice Penelope’s beauty and intelligence as something more than platonic.

“It’s kind of their first true moment of intimacy, emotionally, but also even just touching,” author Julia Quinn previously said. “Touching somebody’s hand in regency times was really quite risqué.” 

Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton on ‘Bridgerton’.

Liam Daniel/Netflix

“That’s a really wonderful scene in the book that we knew from week one that we wanted to include,” Brownell tells Entertainment Weekly.  “Any moments of touch between two characters, especially men and women within the Regency period, it’s so rare that it’s special and creates a lot of tension.”

The actors were equally cognizant of how meaningful this scene is to fans of the novel. “I was definitely aware,” says Newton. “It doesn’t really bring more pressure. There’s more like a buzz on set or an excitement, particularly between Nic and I because we know how much it’s going to mean to the fans of the books and the real diehard fans of the show. It brings an extra little sizzle on set, and I knew it was important.”

“It’s that first moment, that first little spark of connection or physical touch between the two of them,” Newton continues. “Amongst being frustrated and angry about her reading his journals. It was a cool scene to shoot.”

Though Bridgerton has always included scenes from the novels on which the show is based, this season Brownell was even more intentional about inserting pieces of Quinn’s dialogue wherever she could. “We were careful this season to intentionally place in bits of dialogue from the book to honor Julia’s work,” she explains.

Luke Newton on ‘Bridgerton’.

Liam Daniel/Netflix

Adds Newton: “Jess has so brilliantly put these scenes in from the book — and sometimes it’s a whole scene, sometimes it’s just two lines and they slot in so well.”

One slight shift, however, is the way season 3 amps up Colin and Penelope’s husband-hunting lessons. On the page, Penelope does seek advice from Colin as she admits she is more eagerly suiting a match, but it’s not as explicit or foregrounded as it is on screen.

 Sign up for Entertainment Weekly‘s free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.

Brownell says that was about making the story more active and less interior. “The book has a lot of internal conversations between Penelope and Colin or internal monologuing in either of the characters’ heads about popularity and confidence,” she notes. “Because books and television are such different mediums, we needed to find a way to externalize those conversations and make them feel more plot heavy. The charm school set piece, as we called it internally, became our way of creating plot out of those conversations.”

Part One of Bridgerton season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.