Bridgerton receives mixed reviews ahead of its return on Friday Netflix 

Heaving bodices, opulent sets and a will-they-won’t-they romance can only mean one thing: Bridgerton is back.

Fans hoping to see more of the bare bottoms and raunchy sex scenes that made the first series such a hit are set to be disappointed, TV critics have warned in their reviews.

While there is a love story at the center of the series, this time between Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), it is more of a slow-build tension than the all-out, rip-your-clothes -off attraction between the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) and Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) in series one.

In fact, the first two episodes are entirely sexless.

But the series still has plenty to offer, critics insist. They have given the series largely four star reviews which praise the show’s welcome frivolity and glamor at such a dark time.

As Dan Einav writes in the Financial Times: ‘It may never reach the status of high art, but as high camp and escapist entertainment it’s pretty irreproachable.’

Here, a taste of what the critics have to say …

THE TIMES

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Carol Midgley writes: The sex scenes in the first series of Bridgerton were considered so ‘racy’ that some of them were reportedly pirated on to porn sites.

Any viewers tuning into the bosom-heaving Regency drama’s second series hoping for more of the same, however, may find themselves slightly deflated.

While last time it was a mere three minutes into episode one before the copulating commenced, this time more restraint is shown. In fact the entire first episode is sex-free, as is the second …

It’s still candy-floss flimsy much of the time and packed with frocks, froth and cliché, but it is moreish, a splash of jolliness, glam and color in a grim world (its timing is excellent).

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

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Anita Singh writes: Bridgerton may be frivolous – and the first costume drama to kill off a character by means of anaphylactic shock from a bee sting – but it is determined to make points about women’s place in society.

As played by Claudia Jessie, Eloise is one of the best things here, bringing a spark that is missing from some of the bigger performances.

There are times when the central relationship between Anthony and Kate seems to drag on without much passion. But after bingeing the series – in the service of this review, dear reader – their romance swept me away in the end.

Bailey, dare I say it, brings more soul to the role of Lord Bridgerton than Page ever did with the Duke. And, if this is what you’re really here for, the sex is all in episode seven.

RADIO TIMES

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Lauren Morris writes: While the episodes are a bit too long and at points the plot is stretched quite thinly over the season, Bridgerton’s second season is just as, if not more, addictive than its first.

Aside from the focal romance, we get to see Eloise come into her own while she’s still on the hunt for the person behind Lady Whistledown, while season 2 is rather stressful for Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), who is finding it more difficult to hide the fact that she’s the one writing these gossip rags.

Ultimately, if you loved the first season, you’re going to savor every single episode of this regency romp, its intriguing new characters and the impressive performances of its excellent cast, with Jonathan Bailey shining in his well-deserved spotlight.

THE FINANCIAL TIMES

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Dan Einav writes: ‘You relish this frivolity nearly as much as I do,’ says Queen Charlotte in the new series of Netflix’s Regency drama Bridgerton, addressing not only her confidant, Lady Danbury, but also those slightly sniffy viewers among us.

Yes, this is a glorified soap opera, the titanically-budgeted show seems to concede, but don’t pretend you’re not enjoying it.

To scoff at Bridgerton’s immense popularity – it was Netflix’s most watched show until the release of Squid Game – is, ironically, to mirror the haughtiness of its patrician characters.

It may never reach the status of high art, but as high camp and escapist entertainment it’s pretty irreproachable.

THE INDEPENDENT

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Nick Hilton writes: Bridgerton harbors no illusions about what it is: a profoundly unsubtle opportunity to see beautiful, bonneted people tup by candlelight.

From the overdressed sets – which have the same aesthetic as a WeWork on Valentine’s Day – to the overdressed cast, it is a show that indulges our basest qualities, but does so delightfully.

Bridgerton might be close to losing the plot, but be honest with yourself: you weren’t watching for that anyway.

METRO.CO.UK

3.5 stars

Sabrina Barr writes: At the start of Bridgerton season two, one can’t shake the feeling that while it is an enjoyable watch, it doesn’t quite measure up to the magnificence of the first season.

When the show first came out, the diverse cast, modern music and steamy show of sex positivity in 19th century society made it feel refreshingly new. So matching its first outing was always going to be a challenging undertaking.

However, it is worth the wait for the new episodes to ramp up the action, romance and scandal, with the story strengthening at every turn until viewers suddenly realize how invested they have become in the midst of the decadent tale.

MASHABLE

With Anthony and Kate – and Bailey and Ashley – Bridgerton Season 2 strikes gold.

Even the blockbuster debut season couldn’t come close. Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon (Regé-Jean Page) gave us frequent sex scenes between two attractive actors, but the first season never realized what this season does: The true meaning of sexy.

Hiring an Indian actor as Kate gives the taut relationship the feel of a Bollywood romance, where characters frequently flirt, fantasize, and declare themselves, but never share so much as a kiss.

There are viewers who will not understand, and that is their loss. But for those who do, this author promises an unforgettable courtship that will not soon be surpassed.

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