executive producer Shonda Rhimes said she was "shocked" by the response to news of Rege-Jean Page's departure from the Netflix period drama.
Page starred in the first series ofas the Duke of Hastings and proved immensely popular with fans.
It was announced earlier this month he would not be returning for the next series and the actor has since been linked with replacing Daniel Craig as James Bond.
Rhimes, the prolific TV producer behind acclaimed dramasand , told she did not expect the backlash to his departure.
Rhimes also addressed reports that Page, 31, had turned down areturn.
She said: "We made a one-season deal with him at the beginning of season one. That was the plan: come and do one season as the duke. Anything else that was extra and wasn't really the plan when we started, wasn't the plan when we finished. So there's a lot of fantastically interesting talk that's been going on, mainly cause I think people are having a hard time letting go."
However,said Rhimes later clarified Page had been invited to return for cameos in series two.
The second series, which is set to begin filming in the UK in the spring, will follow the story of the eldest Bridgerton sibling, Anthony, played by Jonathan Bailey.
Netflix has already renewed the show for a third and fourth series.