Here’s a piece of gossip that’s much too juicy even for Lady Whistledown’s newsletter: Bridgerton secretly filmed an alternate ending to Season 1 that would have changed everything. While Daphne’s rollercoaster romance with Duke Simon may have been front and center, the most enticing mystery of the show was who was behind the salacious gossip column that took over the Ton. The final moments of Season 1 revealed Lady Whistledown’s surprising identity, but one of the show’s stars recently said that big revelation almost didn’t happen. That’s right — Bridgerton Season 1 had an alternate ending with a different Lady Whistledown, and it’s probably not who you would’ve expected.
Spoiler alert: Don’t read on if you haven’t finished Bridgerton Season 1. Throughout the first season, Lady Whistledown spilled all the tea in the Ton in her hugely popular missives that could either make or break the social season for a family. Even the Queen herself couldn’t get enough of the gossip, and Eloise was dead-set on figuring out who this elusive writer could be. Well, it turned out the answer was right under her nose. The finale revealed Eloise’s best friend, Penelope Featherington, was Lady Whistledown all along.
Although fans of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels knew Penelope was Lady Whistledown from the get-go, this reveal still came as a surprise. The books don’t reveal Lady Whistledown’s identity until book four, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, so readers likely assumed the show would also tease out the big reveal until Season 4 rather than pulling the trigger in Season 1. According to Penelope’s actor herself, Nicola Coughlan, that actually was the initial plan.
Coughlan confirmed Bridgerton shot an alternate Season 1 ending during Netflix’s TUDUM panel on Saturday, Sept. 25. She shared that the initial ending heavily hinted that rival debutante Cressida Cowper was secretly Lady Whistledown. “It was a reshoot in July, so they had filmed a different ending,” Coughlan said. “They were going to make it seem like it was Cressida Cowper.”
Cressida as Lady Whistledown would have been a massive change, but it also would have made a bit of sense in its own right. After all, Cressida spent pretty much all of Season 1 butting heads with Daphne in competition for the Duke’s affections, and Lady Whistledown was pretty brutal to Daphne on several occasions. Plus, Cressida clearly has no love lost for the rest of the Bridgerton family as well as the Featheringtons, which were also the two main families targeted by Whistledown.
But Coughlan’s statement appears to confirm that it was never the show’s intention to actually make anyone but Penelope Lady Whistledown — the Cressida option would have just been a fake-out before the Penelope reveal in a later season. Instead, Bridgerton clearly opted to just do the big reveal right away. But that doesn’t mean the Whistledown twists are over. Penelope is still keeping her secret, and it’s sure to be explosive if anyone else in the Ton ever discovers it.