Julian was born in Sheffield and is one of three children of the Reverend Canon John Ovenden – a former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II. Julian has previously appeared in Downton Abbey and Foyle’s War, but in his recent appearance in Bridgerton he plays Henry Granville, a royal portrait artist who is not all he seems to be. Julian says he’s pretty different to this character. ‘However, his credo of living your true life and the importance of art and self-expression is something I hold dear,’ he admits.
Romantic drama Bridgerton took the world by storm after Christmas last year, and its goings on (including its numerous raunchy scenes) were not only the talk of Lady Whistledown’s column, but pretty much everyone else who watched it. There’s amazing regency interiors to inspire you and modern music remixed in the classiest of styles – think Billie Eilish played by a string quartet.
In Regency era England, the close-knit siblings of the powerful Bridgerton family attempt to find love, but Lady Whistledown is watching their every move. Adding a big helping of regency drama to a Gossip Girl-esque ‘guess who’ might be Netflix’s best idea yet.
‘It certainly seems to have resonated with lots of people,’ Julian agrees. ‘I think the contemporary take on an English Period Drama seems to have worked a trick.’
However, Julian admits that during filming he had ‘no idea’ how much of a success it was really going to be. ‘I think there was a big advantage for the show due to the success of the books (by Julia Quinn) which it's based on, but you never really know,’ he says. ‘Given the size of the budget (the costumes alone took over a football pitch-sized warehouse), there must have been healthy expectation that it would do well though.
‘I think because pretty much the whole world has been held captive at home due to the pandemic, streaming services like Netflix have a very captive audience. Added to that, there are fewer new shows to watch as production ceased for most shows in 2020. Netflix wisely kept Bridgerton back for the optimum time.’
One of the things we loved most about the series is that it really put a spotlight on the beauty of Yorkshire, and so more people (more than 63 million households in its first four weeks, according to Netflix) have seen how truly beautiful Yorkshire is. Bridgerton was shot last year at Castle Howard and Coneysthorpe which feature in the series as Clyvedon Castle and Clyvedon Village – the Duke of Hastings' family estate.
‘What with All Creatures Great and Small and many others, Yorkshire seems to be having a renaissance on screen. And why not? It’s a beautiful, picturesque place,’ Julian says. But despite the glorious landscape and beautiful buildings, when asked what his favourite this is about Yorkshire, Julian says ‘that’s easy; the people’.
In the winter, Julian had hoped to start another TV show but the filming of that was delayed. Now, he plans to be involved in South Pacific at Chichester in the summer. But, for now, let’s just binge-watch Bridgerton again…