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Jonathan Bailey’s year in TV: ‘Bridgerton characters were created to turn people on’
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Jonathan Bailey’s year in TV: ‘Bridgerton characters were created to turn people on’

Jonathan Bailey, 36, is an award-winning stage and screen actor who shot to global fame as Lord Anthony Bridgerton in the wildly popular period drama. He also stars in Fellow Travellers, a decades-spanning story of love between two men, which starts in the infamous McCarthy-era “lavender scare” and continues through the Aids crisis of the 1980s.

How is life as a TV heart-throb?
Hahaha. Yeah, life has been all right. It’s been fine.

Not that you weren’t a heart-throb before …
I definitely wasn’t. It’s Bridgerton, I think. These characters have been created to serve a purpose, to turn people on, I suppose.

Jonathan Bailey in Bridgerton, wearing period costume and standing behind Simone Ashley, helping her aim a shotgun.View image in fullscreen

The sex scenes in Fellow Travellers are very erotic and explicit. Do you think it was important to include that?
I really do. If you’re going to explore the oppression – and these people lost their lives, their jobs, their families – then the other side of that is the extreme need for connection, but also the celebration of the sexual act that supposedly deems them “unacceptable”. I always think about the scene where [co-star] Matt Bomer takes a polygraph test. It’s so aggressively shot and so intimate, so why wouldn’t you match that in terms of the way you’re telling their love story? It’d be weird not to give the full experience.

Best thing you did on screen last year?
Fellow Travellers, definitely. Probably the best in my career, in terms of being proud of it.

Which TV show gripped you the most?
Week on week, The Traitors. It’s just completely thrilling. It’s a personality test, isn’t it? I was so frustrated with Jaz at the end. You see aspects of your own self in these people, for better or for worse. That’s why it’s so compelling.

Any TV roles that you envied?
I wasn’t envious, but there were performances that were just knockout. I thought The Sixth Commandment was brilliant. Surely every actor in the world would love to be invited on a White Lotus holiday. I love being awed by stuff.

Who would play you on TV?
Louis Theroux. Or maybe I want to play Louis Theroux? I would love to play Louis Theroux. I absolutely love Louis Theroux. Actually, Louis Theroux is the answer to everything.

If you weren’t doing your job, what would you be doing?
Maybe getting people excited about something?

Like a hype man?
I’d be Louis Theroux’s hype man.

Which TV show are you most excited to see return?
The White Lotus, obviously. And I loved Such Brave Girls, it’s so singular.

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Do you have a TV guilty pleasure?
You should never feel guilty. I still sometimes watch Made in Chelsea. I love Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix – he’s an amazing food journalist who travels the world eating amazing food. It’s not a guilty pleasure, but I’ll tell you what I do watch a lot. You know the 2p machines, where the coin goes down?

Tipping Point?
I love Tipping Point! It’s a brilliant format.

They do a celebrity version, you know. You should go on it.
Me and Louis.

Source: theguardian.com