Bridgerton fans were shocked when Ruby Stokes revealed she was leaving the hit period drama last year and the 22-year-old has finally lifted the lid on her "difficult" decision.
Stokes left the show to star in Netflix's new paranormal teen drama Lockwood & Co, saying the chance to play a leading role was too good to turn down.
Based on the novels of Jonathan Stroud, the eight-part series is set in an alternate reality where the British public is plagued by sinister spirits and spectres.
Among the host of adult-run agencies that have emerged to deal with a phenomenon known as "The Problem" is a small independent start-up agency run by Anthony Lockwood, with no adult supervision.
Stokes plays Lucy Carlyle, a young woman with extraordinary psychical abilities who joins Lockwood & Co at the start of the series and finds herself uncovering a dark conspiracy that could change the world.
"Working on Bridgerton was wonderful and it was incredible to be part of a show like that," said Ruby when she spoke to us in an exclusive interview recently.
"Leaving was always going to be a difficult choice, but something about Lucy spoke to me. It was a chance to explore a very different character and I’ve learned a great deal playing a young adult at the helm of a show. I just felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down!"
Hannah Dodd will take Ruby's place as Francesca Bridgerton when the show returns to Netflix for a much-anticipated third season later this year, with the character due to be the star of the sixth series if the show reflects the orders of Julia Quinn's series of novels.
Yet the character has seen very little screen time in the first two seasons and ultimately Ruby decided it was the right time to leave the ton to play Lucy Carlyle in Lockwood & Co.
"Lucy is so complex," she explains. "She had a horrible childhood because her mum was quite abusive and she’s also experienced a lot of trauma in her life, yet she also has this remarkable gift that makes her very special. She's really headstrong, quite kick-ass and very independent, she’s pretty vulnerable as well, so I was really excited to play her!"
Lockwood & Co premieres on Netflix on Friday, January 27.
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Sean has been writing about all things telly for over 10 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.