It’s a move that brought some surprise to even hardcore Bridgerton fans who read the original book series. Although viewers can easily read the books to find out the mysterious identity of the one and only Lady Whistledown, the television adaptation decided to let loose their own curveball and reveal her identity at the end of the season 1 finale.
Unsurprisingly, however, it still turned out to be Penelope. Always the fly on the wall at the ton’s most lavish events, it makes total sense why it would still be her. But the big reveal still shocked even actress Nicola Coughlan, who brings Penelope to life in the series.
“It was a really fun thing, actually. I found about it on a fan forum, because while I was reading book four, and then read the reveal within that book I thought, ‘Oh my god.’ It just adds such a completely different layer to Penelope,” Nicola told Seventeen. “Because at the balls, she’s seen as the most low status person in the room. No one pays attention to her. She might as well not be there. At the same time, she’s the most high status person in the room and she’s like a puppet master controlling all of London high society. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s so interesting. I remember when I sat down with Chris [Van Dusen] and had our first meeting face-to-face. I was like, ‘Am I her?’ I didn’t know how to broach the question. He was like, ‘Yes, you are.’ That changed everything in how I approached her.”
Despite the big reveal at the end, Nicola says that there was a moment where it was actually going to be saved for later.
“There was a point in which it was definitely going to be revealed, and then it wasn’t going to be, and then they thought about having a red herring. Chris rang me and he said, ‘Look, you know, having watched everything back, it has to be Penelope, it just doesn’t make sense for us to do it any other way.'”
The big twist seemed like it could have been avoided, especially as it’s only in the last seconds or so that Penelope takes off her hood to reveal that it’s her. However, according to Nicola, it almost was going to be revealed before then due to Penelope’s bright costumes.
“Filming that reveal was one of the most fun things ever. I will never forget it as long as I live. Especially that epic cloak. At one point, that cloak had a big open in the front, where you could see a yellow dress. And I have to say, I would never tell the costume designers what to do, because they are phenomenal at their jobs. But I was like, ‘If someone sees a yellow dress, they’re gonna know. So I think we need to cover that.'”
At the end though, Nicola felt like the big reveal was a total no-brainer, especially looking back at the legacy of the series.
“I think that it’s the right thing to do because these books have been around for 20 years. You can pretty quickly Google who it is. There’s also these comparisons to Gossip Girl — even though the books actually predate Gossip Girl — but, in that series, it was at the very end. It was the right thing to put it where it is because it’s going to be so much fun for the audience too. Hopefully, if we get to go for series two, the audience will know that secret and they’re gonna be watching us at the balls knowing the person that’s pulling all the strings. It would be great.”
Written by Tamara Fuentes
Published December 31, 2020