A trailer for the highly anticipated third season of Bridgerton has teased the friends-to-lovers romance between Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton’s characters.

The new series of the hit Netflix show will see Irish actress Coughlan, who plays Penelope Featherington, initially give up on her long-held crush on Colin Bridgerton, played by Newton, after hearing his disparaging words about her last season.

Colin offers to assist her as she seeks a husband who can provide her with enough independence to continue her double life as Lady Whistledown, an anonymous letter writer who shares secrets of “the ton”.

The haut ton, also known as the ton, were the fashionable elite of English high society in the Georgian period from 1714 to 1837.

The trailer open by taking viewers back to the glamorous ton as Lady Whistledown, voiced by Dame Julie Andrews, says: “Dearest gentle reader, we have been apart for far too long. At last London’s fashionable set has made its return.

“And it seems that our bon ton is moving with the changing tide. So, too, is this author.”

While Penelope appears apprehensive about finding a suitor, Colin returns from his summer travels with a new look which attracts a lot of attention.

She tells him: “I would not be angry if you found me a lost cause,” to which he replies: “You must not say such things. You are Penelope Featherington. Do not forget that.”

Hannah Dodd as Francesca Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington (Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix/PA)

However, after she begins to catch the eye of a suitor, Lord Debling, Colin appears conflicted about whether his feelings for Penelope are just friendly.

The trailer ends with the two alone in the garden as Lady Whistledown’s voiceover says: “What is the primary force that guides us along our paths? Is it our minds or our hearts?”

Matters will be complicated further as the rift between Penelope and her former best friend Eloise Bridgerton, played by Claudia Jessie, continues.

At the end of season two Eloise discovered Penelope’s secret identity as the elusive Lady Whistledown.

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton, Will Tilston as Gregory Bridgerton and Luke Thompson as Benedict Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix/PA)

Bridgerton became the most-watched show on Netflix when it launched on Christmas Day 2020, thanks to its risque scenes and opulent costumes and sets.

The first season followed the development of a steamy romance between Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Rege-Jean Page).

The second instalment centred around the family’s eldest son Viscount Anthony Bridgerton getting caught in a love triangle with Kate Sharma, played by Simone Ashley, and her sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran).

The season three trailer offers a glimpse of Anthony and Kate, showing their relationship is still going strong as they share a passionate kiss.

Bridgerton season three is to arrive in two parts, with part one premiering on May 16 and part two on June 13.