Bridgerton season 2 casts Sex Education and Broadchurch actress Simone Ashley as Jonathan Bailey's lover

SEX Education and Broadchurch actress Simone Ashley will play Anthony Bridgerton's love interest in the next Bridgerton series.

The star, 25, will take on the plum role in the upcoming Netflix series, with her character's name switched from Kate Sheffield – detailed in the Bridgerton literary series by Julia Quinn – to Kate Sharma, to reflect the actress' South Asian heritage.

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She will act alongside Jonathan Bailey and present a feisty force of nature as the plotline centres on his season 2 quest to find a bride.

Netflix's official page teased The Sister actress' arrival to Bridgerton and stated: "Get ready to fall in love with Simone Ashley, who will play Kate in Season 2 of Bridgerton.

"Kate is a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools — Anthony Bridgerton very much included."

Additionally author Julia – who has advised show bosses to make sure the characters "bonk" more in the second instalment – gushed on her Instagram: "WE HAVE OUR KATE!!!!!

"Welcome to #Bridgerton, @simoneasshley! I couldn’t dream of a more perfect Kate."

Previously, Bridgerton creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen said: 'We have a bunch of new characters we are going to be introducing.

"Anthony is going to have a love interest next season, and I think it's going to be as sweeping and moving and as beautiful as viewers of the first season have come to expect from the show.

"We left him at the end of the first season at a bit of a crossroads, so I'm looking forward to jumping in and discovering how he fares on the marriage market."

The steamy series, about wealth, lust and betrayal in London in the early 1800s, centres on the posh Bridgerton and Featherington families.

The plotline sees Corrie star Sally Dynevor's daughter Phoebe play Daphne Bridgerton, the eldest daughter in a powerful and wealthy family who wants to meet a man and get married.

Yet it also touches on her troubled older brother, Lord Anthony Bridgerton, and his quest for love – something many fans were convinced would be explored in a second series.

This came after they spotted the Bridgerton bee in the series finale, when the insect perched on a windowsill after Daphne gave birth.

In the literary novels, the insect has much greater significance as a bee sting is the cause of the death of Anthony and Daphne's father.

The tragedy is contained within the second book, The Viscount Who Loved Me, suggesting bees have a bigger role in the next instalment and fans should perhaps be prepared for a sad twist in the Bridgerton tale.

The death also sees Anthony's title change to Viscount – as reflected in the book's title.

Another potential plot spoiler, should the series keep following the books closely, also relates to bees and their impact on Anthony's future.

After losing his father to the sting, his love interest Kate also gets stung by one later in the book.

Showrunner Chris previously told "I think we've done some work in season 1 to set up other characters. We really dig into Anthony's love story."

Meanwhile, telly fans will recognise Simone as Olivia Hanan in Sex Education, Dana in Broadchurch and Elise Fox in TV mini series, The Sister.

US producer Shonda Rhimes' drama has been hugely praised for its diverse casting, with Simone's arrival attracting yet more support.

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