Bridget Jones’s Diary – the iconic British film based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name – turns 20 today, with the rom-com starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant having made its cinematic debut back in 2001.
With this year marking such a big Bridget Jones anniversary, I dove into the Bridget Jones Cinematic Universe (the BJCU if you will) and revisited its many, many characters for a RadioTimes.com official ranking of all your Daniel Cleavers, your Unas, your Mr Fitzherberts and your Shazzers.
24. ‘Uncle’ Geoffrey
Played by: James Faulkner
The lecherous, bum-pinching Geoffrey lands himself at the bottom of our ranking, which should come as no surprise to anyone considering he’s arguably the film franchise’s biggest creep. Married to Una, the best friend of Bridget’s mum Pam, Geoffrey is described by Bridget as “someone who insists I call him uncle when he gropes my a**e” (ew) and generally exudes big perv energy in every scene he drunkenly dances into. He’s also responsible for Bridget turning up to her aunt’s garden party in full Playboy bunny attire, having “forgotten” to tell her about scrapping the Tarts and Vicars theme, and regularly interrogates her on the state of her dating life whilst clutching a champagne flute. If Bridget ever returns for a fourth outing, let’s hope Geoffrey has finally been excommunicated from the family’s social circle for his groping tendencies and that criminally unsettling moustache.
23. Daniel Cleaver
Played by: Hugh Grant
Coming in at number 23 is of course Daniel Cleaver – the sex-obsessed sleazeball of the Bridget Jones franchise. He may be charming and witty, with the same flop-top hairstyle as all of Hugh Grant’s other endearing rom-com characters but don’t let that fool you. He turns out to be a “deceitful, sexist, disgusting specimen of humanity” who manages to seduce Bridget a number of times despite her better judgment. From sexually harassing Bridget over the length of her skirt via work email (where’s HR when you need them?) and lying about his affair with Mark Darcy’s first wife, to then cheating on her with Lara “from the New York office” and trying to win her back with the hugely underwhelming line: “If I can’t make it with you then I can’t make it with anyone,” Daniel Cleaver really is a piece of work – and we haven’t even touched on the events of the second film! There’s a reason why his fight scene with Mark Darcy, who roundly punches him in the face, is one of the best in the film.
Played by: Paul Nicholls
While he’s a relatively small part of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (arguably the worst in the franchise), drug smuggler Jed turns out to be one of the biggest villains of the film. Having struck up a romance with Shazza while she’s in Thailand with Bridget, it’s his gift – an ivory tusk secretly stuffed with cocaine – which lands Bridget in prison when airport security find it in her luggage. For obvious reasons, I’m not a fan of the manipulative, magic mushroom-spiking Jed.
Played by: Patrick Barlow
This Shopping Chanel presenter – who looks surprising like an orange Keir Starmer – is a largely detestable character who becomes Pamela Jones’s boyfriend after she splits from husband Colin in the first film. Nicknamed “Jaundice Julian” by the cuckolded Colin, the QVC host is hilariously vain, unnecessarily cruel and turns out to be “a bit of a s**t”, as Bridget’s mum Pam eventually realises.
20. Natasha Glenville
Played by: Embeth Davidtz
Mark Darcy’s law firm colleague and girlfriend Natasha ranks towards the bottom of our list for being snarky to Bridget for no reason at all. From shooting disapproving daggers at Bridget from across Una’s garden party to embarrassing her in front of mutual friends (“not in your bunny girl outfit today”), Natasha goes out of her way to belittle a random family friend of her then-boyfriend, who has already found herself in a number of mortifying situations. Do better, Natasha.
19. Cosmo and Woney
Played by: Mark Lingwood and Dolly Wells
Out of all the “smug married couples” at Magda and Jeremy’s dinner party, Cosmo and Wanda are the most unbearable. Not only do they spend the entire evening with self-satisfied grins plastered across their faces, but Cosmo also asks Bridget a number of awkward questions about her love life. When the smarmy posho says those nausea-inducing words, “You really ought to hurry up and get sprogged up, old girl”, it really does make you want to hurl whatever’s within reach at the TV screen.
Played by: Lisa Barbuscia
Daniel Cleaver’s publishing colleague and secret fiancée Lara doesn’t get much dialogue in Bridget Jones’s Diary, except for one line when Bridget walks into Daniel’s bathroom to find her completely nude, using work documents as a modesty shield. “I thought you said she was thin,” she says, nonchalantly. Read the b****y room, Lara. Fat-shaming isn’t acceptable at any time, but you’re seriously going to take a pop at it whilst stark naked and awkwardly perched on the edge of a bath? She’s lucky Bridget didn’t wake up and choose violence that day – those files wouldn’t have done much to protect her.
17. Mr Fitzherbert
Played by: Paul Brooke
Daniel Cleaver’s boss Mr Fitzherbert, aptly named “Mr T**s Pervert” by Bridget, regularly calls her Brenda and was the focus of Bridget’s very first near-gaffe at the book launch of Kafka’s Motorbike. He would rank lower on this list if everyone beneath him wasn’t so awful.
Played by: Neil Pearson
We’re first introduced to news producer Richard when Bridget applies for a job at Sit Up Britain and he gives it to her no questions asked, adding: “At Sit Up Britain, no one ever gets sacked for s******g the boss” (ew). While initially creepy and condescending, Richard actually turns out to be an ally for Bridget, standing up for her when she’s fired from Hard News – so Richard makes the middle of this list.
Played by: Celia Imrie
Bridget’s ‘aunt’ and the best friend of her mum Pamela, Una is a regular fixture at family events and best known for trying to set up Bridget and Mark Darcy by telling Pam that her gravy is “going to need sieving”. She’d rank higher up the list if she wasn’t married to the creep that is Geoffrey (see Number 24).
14. Pamela Jones
Played by: Gemma Jones
While Bridget’s overbearing mother Pamela, played brilliantly by Gemma Jones, is at the centre of some of the franchise’s best scenes – notably her demonstrating the Have It Oeuf egg shell remover – and can be credited for introducing Bridget to Mark Darcy, her dress sense is terrible, she can get too involved in her daughter’s love life and comes out with a few racist remarks in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Not to mention she leaves her husband Colin for a tangerine-coloured QVC presenter in the midst of a mid-life crisis and eventually realises she’s made a mistake.
Played by: Claire Skinner/Jessica Hynes
Bridget’s “only grown-up friend” Magda appears in all three Bridget Jones films – in the first as Outnumbered’s Claire Skinner and in the second two as Spaced’s Jessica Hynes. While Hynes’ version of Magda is a fairly good mate, helping Bridget pick out an outfit for the Law Council dinner, Skinner’s Magda ambushes our protagonist by inviting her to a dinner party where she’s the only single person there and all the other guests are smug married couples. If your whole personality revolves around having a husband, you need to re-evaluate your life choices.
12. Alice Peabody
Played by: Kate O’Flynn
Bridget’s new boss, Alice Peabody, is the main villain of Bridget Jones’s Baby, having been brought in to revamp the “old fashioned” Hard News with VTs of cats who look like Hitler and stories on whether freezers give you Alzheimers. While she’s brash, ruthless and surrounded by hipster assistants, I don’t really blame her for firing Bridget considering the number of professional mistakes she’d made as a producer – from taking phone calls whilst feeding questions to presenters, to inviting her potential baby daddy on the show as a guest to interrogate him about his life and mistaking a chauffeur for a human rights-abusing general.
Played by: Felicity Montagu
Ah, Perpetua. Bridget’s unpleasant desk mate at Daniel Cleaver’s publishing company is often described as the thorn in her side. However, towards the end of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Perpetua is revealed to actually be quite the iconic character. As Bridget hands in her resignation to a furious Daniel Cleaver, Perpetua pipes up: “I want to hear this, because if she gives one inch I’m going to fire her bony little bottom anyway for being totally spineless.” Why Felicity Montagu wasn’t brought back for the two sequels, I don’t know.
Played by: Sally Phillips
On the whole, Shazzer is a great best friend to Bridget. She loves a good expletive, is armed with dating advice and asks questions like, “but has he ever actually stuck his f***ing tongue down your f***ing throat?” However, due to her poor judgement skills – she didn’t recognise the many red flags when romancing secret drug smuggler Jed in Bridget Jones 2 – she only ranks at number 12 on this list.
9. Rebecca Gillies
Played by: Jacinda Barrett
A colleague of Mark Darcy’s who Bridget mistakenly sees as a love rival, poor Rebecca Gillies didn’t deserve the villain’s edit she received in Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason. Of course, we soon discover that Rebecca never had any interest in Mark and that it was actually Bridget she was infatuated with, we spend the entire film viewing Rebecca as a heartless man-stealer, when she was just doing her job and getting to know Bridget. That being said, she did make a move on her friend and colleague’s girlfriend, which isn’t really OK.
8. Jack Qwant
Played by: Patrick Dempsey
Introduced in Bridget Jones’s Baby, American entrepreneur Jack Qwant becomes Bridget’s latest romantic interest when they meet at Glastonbury and get overly friendly in his glamping tent before Bridget realises that he could be the father of her unborn baby. Wealthy, considerate, kind and very good looking (he is McDreamy after all), Jack is the whole package – unfortunately he just gets caught up in the messy web that is Bridget and Mark Darcy’s romantic past. He’s also quite intense when it comes to wooing Bridget and does lie about the baby’s conception to drive Mark away – so he’s not perfect.
7. Mark Darcy
Played by: Colin Firth
Mark Darcy – Bridget’s initially aloof and pompous family friend who turns out to be the love of her life – really is a Mr. Darcy archetype, telling Bridget he likes her “just as she is”, getting her out of a Thai prison even though they’d broken up and helping her prepare the “blue soup” for her upcoming dinner party. However, he only ranks at number seven on this list as is overrated as a romantic lead. He’s not particular communicative, tends to prioritise his work colleagues over Bridget and, to be honest, he’s actually quite boring. Sorry – it had to be said!
Played by: Sarah Solemani
Bridget’s friend and Hard News presenter Miranda is introduced in Bridget Jones’s Baby as a fellow singleton who Bridget finds herself spending more time with when her friends Shazzer, Tom and Jude are preoccupied with partners and children. Fun, spontaneous and usually there for Bridget, Miranda was a fun addition to the franchise and if she hadn’t surprised Bridget with a trip to Glastonbury, then we would never have met Jack!
5. Tom and Jude
Played by: James Callis and Shirley Henderson
Joining Shazzer in Bridget’s trio of best friends, investment banker Jude (the original Moaning Myrtle, crying to Bridget down the phone from a toilet) and former pop star Tom are some of the franchise’s best characters. Constantly cracking jokes, chain smoking and insulting the latest man to break Bridget’s heart, Tom and Jude are the ideal supporting team – willing to whisk their friend off to Paris with a moment’s notice.
Played by: Enzo Clienti
Gianni – the owner of Bridget’s local pizzeria – makes this list because he is a gem of a character and a regular scene stealer in Bridget Jones’s Baby. I mean, he drove Bridget to the hospital in his little pizza delivery van, so enough said.
3. Bridget Jones
Played by: Renee Zellweger
Of course, the iconic Bridget Jones is placed towards the top of this list. A successful publishing assistant and then journalist, with two very attractive men fighting over her and a really nice flat in Borough Market, Bridget is living her best life in all three films. She’s funny, witty and always stylish, even when she finds herself in several cringeworthy situations. She would rank higher up in this list if she didn’t pin most of her self-confidence on her relationship status or her size. Not to mention the plot of Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, in which she’s constantly disappointed that Mark hasn’t proposed to her even though they’ve only been dating for a matter of weeks!
2. Dr Rawlings
Played by: Emma Thompson
No matter how big or small the part, Emma Thompson almost always stands out as a highlight in any film she appears in and Bridget Jones’s Baby is no exception. Dr Rawlings – Bridget’s pregnancy doctor – often steals the show whenever she pops up on the screen, with her honest quips (“Do bring along the father if you can work out which one he is”), her attitude towards men (“All they’re good for is fitting car seats and blaming things on”) and her ability to break the tension whenever Jack and Mark are in the same room together (“I was wondering how many fathers we’d get. Full house!”).
1. Colin Jones
Protect Colin at all costs! Bridget’s dad is one of the most wholesome characters in the Bridget Jones franchise, whether he’s turning up to Una’s garden party dressed as a priest or on the toilet whilst FaceTiming Bridget. As he’s adorable, reliable and always funny, Colin claims the top spot as the best character in the Bridget Jones franchise.