Posts Tagged ‘North and South’

Reading an interview with the delightful and very down to earth sounding India Grey (winner of the RNA’s Romance prize, 2009) in the November issue of Writing Magazine, something struck a chord.

Ms. Grey (Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure and Spanish Aristocrat, Forced Bride, both for Mills and Boon) was asked that old chestnut, where does she get ideas for characters from? She replied that she begins by borrowing the physical characteristics of actors or sportsmen.

It caught my eye, as it’s similar to what I do.

Browsing through a John Lewis gift catalogue recently, my pulse didn’t quicken at the sight of the Radley handbags or the Delonghi coffee makers but at the vision of the male model wearing Christmas cashmere.

‘That’s him!’ I cried to the dog, snoring at my feet. ‘That’s the gorgeous accountant for my updated version of Calamity Jane.’ (Don’t ask, it’s in the planning stage!) And indeed there he was, the quietly sexy but scarily intelligent and borderline anal Daniel. Dark blonde hair and black horn-rimmed specs, with coat hanger cheekbones, he matched the image I have in my head of my new hero. Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person but I find I need some pictorial stimulus in front of me before I can get a feel for the character.

So, Mr. Christmas Cashmere has joined the bevy of men adorning my notice board – purely for research purposes, you understand!

Nick Wainwright in my first novel Pursued by Love (out soon with http://www.escapewithabook.com) began with a (sadly one sided) love affair with the beautiful actor Richard Armitage, when he played John Thornton in North and South. And I know I’m not alone in finding inspiration in him!


John Thornton

However, although I had a clear idea of what Nick looked like, something about his character didn’t gel and I just couldn’t figure out what it was. It wasn’t until I became enamoured with a certain Welsh Blue Peter presenter and changed Nick’s eyes from blue to darkest brown that he worked. Sounds daft I know but it seemed to make him more intense, more soulful.


Gethin Jones

I’m straying from my fascination with dark haired men lately with an all consuming and rather embarrassing crush on the (very) young actor who plays Prince Arthur in the BBC series Merlin.


Bradley James as Prince Arthur

There’s something about his sharp features and blonde hair which is very appealing. He also has the sexiest mouth and teeth (I kid you not, check them out). Just like I get hooked into people by a small detail (like eye colour or a well-defined nose), my characters begin that way – and then develop from there. Perhaps Dan the accountant could have a younger brother?!

Which leads me onto a moan. Don’t you just hate it when a front cover features a photograph of the main characters, especially when, as you read the novel, it becomes apparent that the cover doesn’t match the picture you’ve formed in your head? Or, even worse, the photo has the wrong hair or eye colour!

In the meantime, my study is a fine place to be on a cold winter day, decorated as it is with John Thornton, Prince Arthur and the nameless male from the John Lewis catalogue! And you never know, he may even have persuaded me to buy a sweater …


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The BBC dramatisation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South is being shown on BBC Four on Sunday evenings at 7pm. Although it has been repeated on UKTV Drama, this is the first time the BBC has shown it since its initial broadcast in November/December 2004. Episode 1 has already aired, but you can catch up with Episode 2 on 24th May.

North and South gave the delectable Richard Armitage his first leading role on television. His wonderful portrayal of Victorian millowner John Thornton in Sandy Welch’s adaptation was to prove his breakthrough role on British TV. North and South also stars Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale, Lesley Manville, Tim Piggot Smith, Sinead Cusack, Brendan Coyle, Pauline Quirk and Anna Maxwell Martin.

It’s a gem of a production and not to be missed. And arguably it has the best TV screen kiss, EVER.

According to the Weekend magazine in last week’s Daily Mail, the success of North and South is “at least partly …because of the smouldering Mr. Armitage, playing a kind of Industrial Revolution Darcy…..”

Yes indeedy. Richard’s performance as hero John Thornton caused some of us to deluge the BBC messageboard afterwards and even get a mention in The Times. If you are new to Richard Armitage and wondering what all the fuss is about, perhaps these will give you a clue ;0) …

Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage (John Thornton)

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I had a real ‘woohoo’ moment on Thursday.

Browsing on Amazon for information on Georgette Heyer audio books, I discovered by chance that there is new CD audiobook of Sylvester being released on 1st July.   Fabulous news for a Heyer fan like me, but there was even better to come….the reader on this edition is Richard Armitage!

I couldn’t quite believe it.  THE Richard Armitage.  No, not that bloke who used to be US Deputy Secretary of State, but the actor Richard Armitage.  I’ve been a fan of Richard’s since 2004 when he appeared as John Thornton in the BBC production of North and South.  Those of us thrilled by his fantastic performance as Thornton – a hero to die for – deluged the BBC messageboard, which went into meltdown some weeks later when Richard himself posted a message of thanks.  Since then Richard’s career has gone from strength to strength.  He’s appeared in the Vicar of Dibley, Robin Hood and Spooks, among other things, and recently topped the ratings in the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2009 Valentine’s poll, beating top Hollywood stars to the number one spot.

By coincidence when some of us saw Richard as JT, we could see the resemblance to Sylvester – both are intelligent, rich, tall, dark and handsome.  Tick.  Both are proud, haughty and remote but beneath their tough exterior lies vulnerability and a passionate nature. Tick.

Richard/JT even had Sylvester’s eyebrows!

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the 2004 BBC adapation of North and South

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the 2004 BBC adaptation of North and South

And now Richard is going to read Sylvester – my favourite chocolate-voiced actor, reading one of my favourite Heyer books.  Utter bliss!

Christmas is coming early this year…on 1st July to be exact 🙂

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in tight breeches must be in want of a large TV audience.  I know, I know … a shameful paraphrasing of Jane Austen  happy048tk but there were plenty of men in breeches, cravats and togas on show in this week’s ITV3 offering, The History of the Costume Drama.  Five programmes charted the success of British TV costume drama over the last 50 years and clips from the famous (and obscure) adapations which have graced our TV screens were interpersed with cast and crew interviews.  Riveting stuff, and how wonderful to see interviews with the delectable Richard Armitage, who played John Thornton in the 2004 version of North and South, and Ross Poldark himself, Robin Ellis, still looking very dashing.

All five programmes will be available for up to 30 days on ITV’s catch up facility

ITV Catch Up – The Story of the Costume Drama

Richard Armitage as John Thornton

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and South (BBC 2004)

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