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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Zoe Wood

‘Bridgerton universe’ has added £275m to UK economy, says Netflix

Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes at the London Stock Exchange with the market’s chief executive, Julia Hoggett
Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes, left, at the London Stock Exchange with the market’s chief executive, Julia Hoggett. Photograph: James Manning/PA

The “Bridgerton effect” has been hard to ignore since the drama first appeared on our screens, inspiring clothing and interiors trends with a period twist and helped make afternoon tea and visiting stately homes sexy.

Now Netflix has put a big number on the worth of what it calls the “Bridgerton universe”, suggesting the period romp produced by the company Shondaland has given a £275m shot in the arm to the UK’s ailing economy over the past five years.

Indeed, in a move that served to underscore the franchise’s bankability, Shonda Rhimes – the chief executive of Shondaland and the veteran producer behind hits such as Grey’s Anatomy – made a cameo in London’s financial centre on Friday, opening trading at the London Stock Exchange.

While the TV show, now into its third series, may offer escapism, Rhimes suggested its cultural impact was not to be underestimated.

“The Bridgerton universe occupies a special space in culture, resonating with young and old alike, creating conversation, starting trends and influencing everything from baby names to weddings,” she said.

“The shows have had a seismic impact on the UK economy, boosting it by a quarter of a billion pounds over the last five years and supporting thousands of jobs and businesses.”

Netflix claimed the production had supported almost 5,000 local businesses over the past five years, with Rhimes stating that it was clear that the “business of art and culture can make a huge economic contribution to local communities”.

Anna Mallett, the vice-president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa production at Netflix, seconded Rhimes. “As well as an economic boost, the shows have had a huge cultural impact,” she said. “The UK is our home and this is one part of our huge investment in creating stories our members will love.”

The £275m figure was calculated in-house by Netflix and includes direct and indirect spending, through money spent with other companies, getting it on to the screen. The upbeat message comes at a difficult time for UK film and TV studios, where jobs are going as the pandemic streaming boom unwinds.

While it is not clear if Julia Hoggett is a Bridgerton fan, the London Stock Exchange chief executive said she was “thrilled to celebrate the significant economic and cultural impact” of the film and creative industries in the UK.

The headline figure does not include other money-spinning activities piggybacking on the show, such as themed events and product ranges sold by retailers, or the likely tourism fillip as fans make pilgrimages to grand locations such as Castle Howard in Yorkshire and Ranger’s House in Greenwich, London.

This points to the £275m being a conservative estimate, as with its young glamorous cast the glossy drama is credited with spawning trend after “Regencycore” trend, with no sign of it running out of steam.

Indeed a “Bridgerton tea party” ranked highly in a recent Pinterest report looking at this summer’s “hottest trends”, with searches up 430% in April compared with a year earlier. Creative tea recipes were trending, it said, as people sought inspiration for what to serve and floral decor ideas.

“Regencycore” is also still going strong on the high street with the upmarket London department store Liberty currently hosting an immersive Bridgerton pop-up and selling a dedicated fabric collection. The sumptuous interiors in the show are also said to be prompting the current craze for DIY panelling.

While the series has given sales of, perhaps neglected, corsets, empire-waist and baby-doll dresses some oomph, the show’s influence has now moved beyond fashion into beauty, with the online retailer Cult Beauty pointing to this summer’s “defiant romance” trend of blush cheeks and faux freckles. It is also behind new period-inspired looks for interiors and gardens.

Beth Boulton, the marketing director at the home improvement specialist Eurocell, said that since the new series began airing, shoppers were searching online for wisteria plants, pergolas, water fountains and outdoor candles.

“The show is synonymous with pots spilling with plants, and bright climbing flowers such as ivy and wisteria, that all add a sense of wonder to your garden,” she said.

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