Bridgerton. Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma in episode 203 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

Bridgerton’s Simone Ashley

Bridgerton’s Simone Ashley

Surrey star Simone Ashley talks to Adam Davidson about her character, diversity and on-screen chemistry with her co-star

The global phenomenon Bridgerton is back for a second series on Netflix as Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) has finally decided it is time that he search for a wife. He finds himself in a love triangle with two sisters, Edwina and Kate Sharma (Charithra Chandran and Simone Ashley), recently arrived from South Asia.

Simone Ashley, who found fame playing the role of Olivia in Netflix’s Sex Education, was born in Camberley, Surrey. Simone moved to study at Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead for sixth form and then pursued a career in acting as she moved to Hounslow to train at the Arts Educational School. The actress started her career in 2016 and has also landed roles in Detective Pikachu and Broadchurch.

In Bridgerton, the actor plays the independent and feisty Kate who tries to match her sister Edwina with Lord Bridgeton but instead falls for him herself.

Talking about the new family in Bridgerton, Simone says: “You first see Kate being this incredibly protective sister, sometimes maybe a little too overprotective, and Edwina is obviously the diamond.”

“What I like about the Sharmas is there is a bit of a sense of mystery about them, the stakes are high and they have to be protective of themselves as a survival act. You slowly get to see through the cracks and see what the family is about and see the history. They then have to fall apart and bond stronger together.”

Jonathan Bailey adds: “You can’t really imagine Bridgerton without the Sharmas now.”

Also joining the Sharma family is Newton, the corgi. Simone recalls a story of when the troublesome dog passed out on set after eating too much.

She says: “My fondest memory of him is when we were filming at Aubrey Hall and at the front of the building is the pebbled ground, and he would just eat the pebbles. You would look down and he’d be chomping away.”

Simone will be joining a hugely successful show with an already established cast.

Talking about how she was welcomed on set, she says: “A lot of Instagram DM sliding. Everyone in the cast was so warm and welcoming and sent a message just understanding how overwhelming and exciting it will feel. It was a case of ‘welcome aboard and enjoy the ride.’”

Bridgerton gained worldwide popularity after the first series premiered in 2020 and the period drama was famed for its racy scenes and romance.

However, this series is less focused on sex and when asked whether there is a fear fans might not respond to this as well, showrunner Chris Van Dusen says: “It was never about quantity for us and our approach to intimacy on the show is the same as season one. We use intimacy to tell a story and push the story forward and we’ve never done a sex scene for the sake of doing a sex scene and I don’t think we ever will.”

Simone adds: “It makes sense for these characters because they are very protective over their families and they are truthful to their duty and responsibility so for them to break that wouldn’t have made sense for the characters.

“They aren’t performative sex scenes or intimate scenes, they have real meaning behind them and they are very earnt when the fireworks happen.”

Chris Van Dusen describes Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley as ‘magnets’ due to their on-screen chemistry.

Jonathan says: “I suppose we did develop a little process, but unspoken, which was that we knew we were both in it [fully] and obviously you surrender your whole life when you do something like this as you’re in every day and we really looked after each other.”

Bridgerton has been widely celebrated for its inclusivity and diversity in casting and this series is no different as with South Asian actors Simone and Charithra taking the lead roles. Simone talks about the sense of ‘joy’ that Bridgerton brings in representing people from all backgrounds and specifically South Asia in this series.

She adds: “Representation and diversity on screen is a very complex conversation that we are all having all the time and it’s an important one but for me personally I just want to bring the fun to it now and the normality and the joy.”

Series two of Bridgerton is on Netflix on Friday 25 March

See where Bridgerton was filmed in London and Surrey!