Bridgerton fans have come to love the titular family at the center of the smash-hit Regency-era romance drama across its two seasons so far, although one of the large brood has remained strangely elusive. While the rest of the Bridgerton siblings have each had their time in the spotlight, Francesca — the third-oldest daughter and third-youngest child — has only appeared in a handful of scenes.
But that’s set to change with season three, as Netflix has announced that the role of Francesca has been recast. With original actress Ruby Stokes hopping over to another of the streamer’s upcoming series, supernatural detective show Lockwood & Co, Hannah Dodd (Anatomy of a Scandal) has signed up to replace her. Unlike Stokes, who was a recurring player, Dodd will be a regular cast member in season three.
Stokes’ Francesca appeared in two episodes of season one, with the character written out as visiting an aunt in the country. She then appeared with her brothers and sisters in the first three episodes of the second season before disappearing again without explanation. EP Chris Van Dusen has revealed that this was due to unforeseen schedule clashes with Stokes’ commitments to Lockwood & Co.
It sounds like Francesca will essentially be rebooted and treated like a new addition next time, then, as Dodd’s casting has come with an updated character description. According to Deadline, Francesca is “a bit of a mystery with her chatty, extroverted family. Despite her reserved nature, she goes along to get along when it comes to society affairs, fortified with a dry wit and pragmatism that confound the fickle ton yet seem to draw attention when she least desires it.”
Much like the rest of the family, Francesca has her own book in the original novel series by Julia Quinn, with the sixth — When He Was Wicked —focusing on her love life. Presumably the plan is to adapt that with Dodd in a future season. Remember, in addition to Bridgerton season three, a prequel spinoff telling the story of Queen Charlotte’s marriage to the king is also in the works.