Critics have hailed the return of one of Hollywood’s favourite single girls as Bridget Jones’s Baby finally made its long-awaited debut.

The third in the popular franchise, based on Helen Fielding’s books about the London-based media worker who just can’t seem to hold down a successful relationship, comes 12 years after the second movie, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

Bridget Jones’ Baby (Universal/PA Images)

This new outing for now 40-something Bridget (Renee Zellweger) sees her rekindle a romance with her old flame Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and get intimate with newcomer Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey) in the space of a few days, becoming pregnant.

What ensues is a typical mad goose chase as a befuddled Bridget attempts to appease both men in her life after failing to discover who is the father of her child.

Reviewers have praised the return of the hapless Bridget in this star-studded third film, with many critics awarding it three or four stars out of five.

Bridget Jones’ Baby stars Renee Zellweger and Patrick Dempsey (Universal/PA Images)

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrote that Bridget Jones’s Baby was “a pretty broad comedy” but praised the film for including an update on the “traditional rom-com rush to the airport”.

He explained: “What sealed the deal for me – by a whisker – was the gigantic physical comedy that Dempsey, Zellweger and Firth uncorked as they try to get through the hospital revolving door as Bridget is about to give birth.”

Brian Viner wrote in The Daily Mail: “The performances are all terrific. It’s nice to see Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones back as Bridget’s parents, and Sarah Solemani gives a delightful turn as a TV presenter.”

Colin Firth returns as Mark Darcy (Universal/PA Images)

He added that the film is “on the whole, a worthy completion of the trilogy”.

“Any doubts about (Renee’s) Bridget have long since been laid to rest,” wrote The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab.

He added, praising Renee: “Picking up the role after more than a decade, she again gives a thoroughly winning comic performance.”

Macnab went on to say “the new film is actually an improvement on The Edge of Reason,” a sentiment felt by many critics.

Emma Thompson stars as Bridget’s hilarious doctor (Universal/PA Images)

Tim Robey wrote in The Telegraph: “Zellweger feels back in charge of the character again, and even her excesses are easily indulged, after the tonally hideous detour of 2004′s The Edge of Reason.”

He concluded: “It’s a comeback you root for, then, even while it’s wobbling and occasionally falling in the mud. But goodwill gets it home.”

Stella Papamichael opined in the Radio Times: “Emma Thompson tickles the ribs as Bridget’s doctor, who wearily plays along when the expectant mother brings Darcy and Qwant to alternate appointments, too cowardly to tell one about the other.

Bridget Jones’ Baby (Universal/PA Images)

“Thompson also co-wrote the script with Fielding and Dan Mazer, and together they trump the Edge of Reason with a sassier, more satisfying mix of dry wit and knockabout comedy.”

The Mirror’s David Edwards hailed the film as “the funniest of the series”.

:: Bridget Jones’s Baby is released in the UK on September 16.