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Bridget Jones is a franchise based on the fictional character with the same name. English writer Helen Fielding started her Bridget Jones's Diary column in The Independent in 1995, chronicling the life of Bridget Jones as a thirtysomething single woman in London as she tries to make sense of life and love with the help of a surrogate "urban family" of friends in the 1990s. The column lampooned the obsession of women with women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan and wider social trends in Britain at the time. Helen Fielding published the novelisation of the column in 1996, followed by a sequel in 1999 called Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Both novels were adapted for the big screen in 2001 and 2004, starring Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones, and Hugh Grant and Colin Firth as the men in her life, Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy. After Fielding had ceased to work for The Daily Telegraph in late 1998, the feature began again in The Independent on 4 August 2005 and finished in June 2006.
Bridget Jones graduated from Bangor University. She is a single, thirty-three-year-old woman who has a monotonous life. She has some bad habits - smoking and drinking too much - but she annually writes her New Year's resolutions in her diary, determined to stop smoking, drink no more than fourteen alcohol units a week, and eat more pulses. In the two novels and screen adaptations, Bridget's mother is bored with her life as a housewife in the country and leaves Bridget's father. Bridget repeatedly flirts with her boss, Daniel Cleaver. A successful barrister named Mark Darcy also keeps popping into Bridget's life, being extremely awkward, and sometimes coming off a bit rude. After Bridget and Mark reach an understanding of each other and find a sort of happiness together, she gains some self-esteem and cuts down on her cigarette consumption. However, Bridget's obsession with self-help books plus several misunderstandings cannot keep the couple together forever.
The new Independent column was set in the then-present day of 2005 and 2006, with references being made to events such as River Thames whale, and has dropped some of the motifs of the original diary, particularly the alcohol unit and calorie counts. Despite the time advance, Cleaver and Darcy were still the two men in Jones' life ("I'm not sleeping with them both at once," she explains later to her friend Shaz. "I accidentally slept with each of them separately"), and the plotline launched into a pregnancy. As author Helen Fielding said, "she's heading in a different direction." The column is continued into 2006. In the last entry, Bridget Jones gave birth to a baby boy, fathered by Daniel Cleaver. She moved in with Daniel. However, Mark was not entirely out of the picture, as he previously suggested that he would like to adopt the child. The column finished with the note, "Bridget is giving every attention to the care of her newborn son – and is too busy to keep up her Diary for the time being."