1. ITV Report

Bridget Jones author: Mark Darcy's spirit 'shines on' in new book

Colin Firth filming the sequel to Bridget Jones Diary 'The Edge of Reason' Photo: EMPICS Entertainment

The author of the Bridget Jones books has said that she and Colin Firth mourned the death of one of her characters, Mark Darcy, as though he was a real person.

"I asked him if he was sitting down and I asked him if he had someone with him ... It really was like telling someone that someone had died," Helen Fielding told ITV News.

After more than a decade, Fielding has written her third - and possibly final - installment of Bridget Jones's Diary.

But many fans were mismayed to learn, in an extract printed in Sunday Times Magazine, that Jones has since become a widow following the death of Darcy.

She told ITV News that Firth, who played Darcy in the films, took the news like a "perfect gentleman".

Fielding also assured readers that Darcy's spirit "shines on" in the book "as a reminder that behind a reindeer sweater or other strange garment, there may lurk a really attractive man who is also a real British gentleman".

She said she found it "really touching" that fans cared so much about Darcey's demise, and that this is testament to Firth's "smouldering" performance in the role.

Whilst admitting the world in the book has changed and new issues have come to the fore, Fielding said readers will recogise the same Bridget.

When I wrote Bridget I was in my 30s, and so were the people reading it and now we're older and no-one gets older without things happening. But Bridget still retains that joie de vivre.

Bridget Jones's Diary started life as as a newspaper column in 1995, and has been credited with kicking off the genre known as "chick lit".

Two best-selling novels followed, with Hollywood blockbuster film adaptations featuring Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Hugh Grant as her boss and love rival Daniel Cleaver.

Portrayed as a stereotypical 1990s London thirty-something worried about her weight, smoking and alcohol intake, Bridget struck a chord with women of her generation.

The author of Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding Credit: Freud/PA Wire

Bridget has moved on since the last novel, which was printed in 1999, and readers will now find her as a 51-year-old widow obsessed with wrinkles.

Bridget's new adventures as a fifty-something cougar sees her meet new 30-year-old toy boy boyfriend, Roxter, on Twitter, five years after Darcy's death.

Asked if there will be another novel, Fielding remained ambivalent: "I don't know what will happen. If I write another one it will be about something I really want to write about".