Remembering Mr Thornton

Because it is Monday and since we have been remembering the anniversary of NS hitting the screens in 2004, I thought I’d recycle some of the lovely comments I received on the round-up post on Saturday. I asked for legacy fans’ memories of how they reacted to Mr Thornton appearing on screen, and you did not disappoint. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing the “testimonials” of other fans. I’m always curious to know how they realised they had come across a pretty special actor. And hey, any excuse to post pretty pictures, eh?

Hot tea

Armidreamer says:

Yep it’s my 15-year RAniversary, which began with N&S, although the beginnings of my obsession started a week later in the 2nd episode. I hated RA in the first, ridiculously glowering and sharp-featured and blue-eyed, but something got to me by week 2 and I’ve been smitten with Armitage ever since. I watch N&S every year around my birthday and it (he) still packs a visceral punch.

Yep, Thornton really wasn’t very appealing at first, all violent and abrasive.

He loved her sorely, in spite of himself

Zigzag stuck with RA, even through times of drought:

I remember watching N&S when it first came out in 2004. I stumbled across it channel surfing on the terrestrial TV on a Sunday November evening. I was hooked after the first episode – loved the tension between John Thornton and Margaret, the smouldering glances, and the arrogant air of the cravat wearing Northern mill owner. Oooooh! I was fascinated by RA’s strongly angular features and his mouth and wonky bottom row of teeth!
I remember being very restless at work the next day, couldn’t concentrate, spent time surreptitiously trying to google info about RA. Haha! I went and bought a copy of N&S, speed reading it to find out what happens, and realised it was not going to be a bodice ripper! (Explains why I enjoy reading N&S fanfiction).
My interest in RA has fluctuated over the years; I was never a member of the Armitage Army. My interest was rekindled in 2014 after coming across N&S fanfiction online.
Most of RA’s other characters he’s portrayed I’ve found unappealing and insufficient to maintain my interest in watching a TV series or movie just because he’s in it. I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by his performances in both Berlin Station and Ocean’s Eight.
John Thornton remains my favourite RA character. I wish RA had played more romantic leads in his career (I get the impression he’s actively not pursued those parts). That said, I remain ever hopeful that one day he will star again in a Victorian period piece drama, and we will get to see him wear a cravat and top hat once more, plus side burns. 😆

The wonky teeth – an interesting observation at that point. Even when watching NS nowadays, the teeth are not a feature that would put me off that otherwise so uniquely handsome face. In fact, I’d almost prefer them – because the imperfection is something that balances the handsome looks, in the best of ways. I also find it interesting how fan fiction had an influence on Zigzag’s interest in RA.

Preferably a period piece with cravat undone, if you ask me

I’ve been circling NS on Netflix for a while now, thinking I would like to revisit it. Re-watch?



37 thoughts on “Remembering Mr Thornton

  1. I so agree with you that RA’s imperfections do balance his handsome looks. In truth, I find him more appealing without the nose job and dental work. I realise I may come across as a bit shallow but a major part of RA’s appeal for me is his handsome masculine good looks. I would not have remained a fan otherwise. That said, my interest continues to be picqued by the occasional, often inadvertent, glimpses we get of the real Richard from time to time.
    I am up for a rewatch of N&S although I’ll have to watch it when my husband is away as it’s most definitely not his cup of tea! Guilty pleasures!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Guylty – I’m certainly up for a re-watch as I’m getting near my annual N&S binge. I miss his old nose but hadn’t noticed his wonky teeth (only when they became the dazzling pearly-whites) – I’ll have to scrutinise the ever-fascinating Thornton face even more.


  3. I love hearing “how I found RA stories” from fellow fans. It all started with North & South for me, however, as detailed in my first ever blog post, I don’t recall how, when or why lightning suddenly struck. I bought the DVD because I love period drama (having come across it because of the insane desire to rewatch the vaguely remembered Patrick Swayze Civil War polyester festival—don’t judge; okay, judge away) and I watched it many times until one time it hit me right in the feels. I’m always up for a rewatch!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I too love hearing what I call “fangirl origin stories”. I’m not 100% sure, but I think mine started more with Guy of Gisborne than Thornton, but only just. I can’t recall the order of events clearly, but RH was what I watched him in “first” (even if that was technically The Hobbit) and so I believe I only watched N&S because I started to find Guy attractive by the end of season 2. It’s a good thing both were on Netflix at the time or I never would’ve become a fan! So despite Guy being my first real exposure to RA, Thornton was what really got me into him and made me interested in him as an actor, not just his characters.

    As for his teeth (and lol that we’re discussing his teeth, I love this fandom), I’m not one to have a preference either way. I guess as a person with crooked teeth myself, I completely understand wanting to fix one’s teeth and possibly being self-conscious about it, especially if one is in a line of work that’s so visual…although it could just as well be that somebody “encouraged” him to straighten his teeth if he’s to make it in US productions. I grew up in Japan and never cared that much about my teeth, but in moving to the US as a teen, I learned very quickly how obsessed Americans are with straight teeth! But anyway, despite my indifference, I get why some people might miss his less-than-perfect pearly whites (even I sometimes comment on how his teeth are almost ridiculously perfect now. I wrote a Guy fanfic a while back in which some peasant comments on how weirdly perfect Sir Guy’s teeth are lol).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thornton really seems to be a seminal role – at least in terms of gateway to fandom. Thornton has a lot of romantic potential – and even gets a happy end. (Better than Guy in that respect.)
      You are right, imperfect teeth are something that a lot of people are self-conscious about. And I admit that there is a difference between us “normal” folk and those who work in the entertainment sector. I guess my point really is that his “real” teeth never stood out to me as particularly bad. They were not horrific. Just normal. So imo he didn’t *have to* have them replaced.
      LOL – a Guy fanfic about teeth… love it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I get wanting to straighten his teeth a bit. God knows our parents made us do it (pretty standard in Germany, I’d say) and visuals are important in his line of work. I just wish he’d been patient about it and fixed HIS teeth instead of chucking them altogether and getting a completely new set (that is too Hollywood cookie cutter IMO). It makes me irrationally irritable. 😒🦷


      • Agreed, his teeth were never that bad in the first place. I guess he either thought differently or he caved in to the pressures of Hollywood to have “perfect” teeth. Ah, well.
        Lol! The entire fanfic wasn’t about Guy’s teeth, somebody just mentioned them in a throwaway line. But maaan I want to write a whole fanfic about his teeth now! xD


      • I live in denial about the nose.

        (Of course I know it happened. But one it was utterly unnecessary, because his nose totally suits him and two it’s a bit of a personal disappointment to me. I’ve not been a huge fan of my own nose (which isn’t so unlike his), so I related to his earlier statements in old interviews where he said when he was younger he wanted a nose job. It’s me being ridiculous and wanting him to have risen above that. It’s clearly a me-problem, not a him-problem. And it’s a fantastic nose job. A gagillion times better than the teeth. Very subtle. I just wish he hadn’t done it for selfish reasons.)


        • Again – similar applies here for me than applies to the teeth. (Vanity etc.) But I absolutely agree that it was a very subtle job – it actually took me a while to believe it. And now I am used to the new shape so much that I kind of agreed with the decision when I looked at a picture of the old nose the other day.
          Having said all this – I *totally* accept that *his* reasons are the *only* reasons that count.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember sitting down that first night to watch it. I’d put my 2 year old to bed thinking please go to sleep as of course then there was no pausing the tv or rewinding!

    For me, like Margaret, it was lust at first sight as he stood on those stairs with the cotton flying round him. I think it was the whole thing, the slow mo, the music and the jawline.

    Initially I didn’t realise that he was the same actor who I’d seen in cold feet and thought he looks nice.

    I regularly rewatch North and South and have also had it downloaded on my phone and used it as a radio play.

    My family know of my love and my husband takes the mickey out of me, in a nice way, I will go and watch Uncle Vanya a couple of times but I have struggled with some of his roles which are in genres I don’t enjoy.

    I don’t think my feelings will change now after all this time though they definitely ebb and flow depending on what he is up to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I had forgotten – back in the day a show was only broadcast once, and if you missed it – tough luck! All the more admirable that you immediately fell under the spell and watched it.
      LOL “whole thing, slow mo, music – jawline”. (I’d add the stubble to that… it really stood out for me when I saw it the first time).
      I hear you on the roles in genres you are not interested in. The horror movie is definitely a step too far for me. But like you say – I also feel that the appreciation kind of has been established for good.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have been a fan a long time and saw North and South when it first aired then sought out his previous work. Absolutely love Sparkhouse and have watched Frozen several times the story is multi layered and the photography is beautiful and the extras on the DVD are so interesting.
    It’s such a shame he didn’t follow up N&S with more period work, just to cement his ability/ presence of our screens but whether he didn’t get the opportunity or because of his desire to try different genres, who knows. I think he was dead set on making it in America (the recorded interview he did with Stephenson was very revealing) imo guys like Kevin Spacey who spoke at LAMDA probably had too much influence ( I have always felt that RA was impressionable)
    I liked his original nose, imo the lower teeth could have been straightened but I suppose he was in a hurry lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, there *was* Claude Monet as another period piece, I guess. And I kind of understand that he didn’t necessarily want to become a period piece poster boy. But I think you hit the nail on the head with your assumption that he was set on taking his career to the US. (Which “Stephenson” interview are you referring to?) I’m not sure whether it has all paid off, tbh.


      • It was 2010 and at the height of his TV career, he had finished Strike Back for Sky 1 and was in all the TV magazines and newspapers.
        David Stephenson released the full version for a nominal charge (£1.00 iirc) I have it on an old i- pod somewhere lol
        I kept the newspaper clipping, he refers to his fans as mostly middle-aged, quite well- educated Radio 4 listeners, who came from N&S.
        He is 38 and already thinking of a career the other side of the camera and Richard III is close to a go-ahead. 😕


        • Oh, now I remember the interview. Yes, I have heard it, too. And very handily, Stephenson has put it on YT:

          I haven’t re-listened, but isn’t that the interview that started the whole thing with the “pants thrown against the windows”?
          (I never know whether I should take his ‘middle-aged, well-educated Radio 4 listeners’ description as a compliment or an insult *haha*)


  7. Thanks for the link to Trudy’s new N&S anthology collection. My iTunes account has $$ in it so I purchased it there. Hubs put iTunes moola there for me a few years ago, but I forget and haven’t used it. (I’m always so behind stuff.)

    I’ve recounted this before, but after I got tired of having the news on the TV all the time, (leave TV on and the radio in kitchen, it helps pets not go nuts when no one is home) I switched the TV to BBCAmerica. That was early 2002. When Robin Hood aired, I’d already _been_ watching M-I5 (Spooks) from the beginning. Adam AKA Rupert Penry-Jones, was my favorite then, but didn’t look or notice any online stuff about him. RA was the beginning of all that.

    Anyway, I’ll spare you the gritty details, but after years of listening to Robin Hood on the TV; during a thanksgving day BBCAmerica Robin Hood marathon, while working on sales reports, I happened to look up and see RA. Needless to say, after that day, I couldn’t stop looking.

    Years later, after reading your posts on RA photograph detailing tech specifics and those early shrines, that I cautiously reached out to you Guylty.

    Odd that while my work/business is 100% immersed in fandoms, I got sucked into this one. 😊 The only fandom I couldn’t resist. ☃️


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