Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy 10th Anniversary North & South - Memories of John Thornton

November 14, 2014 is the 10th Anniversary of the first airing, the premiere in the UK, of the BBC series North & South, starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Like so many fans/supporters/well-wishers the first time I saw Richard Armitage was in this series as John Thornton. No, I didn't see it on November 14, 2004, but one night on my local U.S. public television station (yes on PBS) in 2005.  I will admit I had not heard of Elizabeth Gaskell before, and had no idea what the series was about, but I saw it was a period drama, and that was enough incentive for me to watch.

I remember feeling a bit annoyed towards this interfering busybody, Mr. Thornton, as Margaret Hale marched to the mill to confront him. Then amid the noise and the floating cotton fluff there he was, standing above it all, the most beautiful man I had ever seen. 

By the start of the second episode I made sure I knew the name of the actor: 

Richard Armitage

video by lucifmello

Five Years Later

It was the first weekend in the few months since my mother had passed away that I was alone. No family or friends making sure I had company for part of the day, or calling to check if I was OK.  

Somehow on this weekend they all had gone back to their own lives, leaving me alone with mine. The door had closed on my life and I sat in my living room not knowing what to do with the rest of it. I only knew I couldn't continue this way.  

Why I suddenly remembered North & South that day I don’t really know. It had been a while since I watched it, but somehow I remembered the strong bond between John Thornton and his mother.  My mother and I had a similar bond. Very much like John and Hannah, as a single mother and child, we had worked, trusted, and depended on each other in order to survive. 

In the last few years of my mother's life, as she declined rapidly and I became the inadequate caregiver, our world changed. I desperately needed to remember an earlier time in our lives as mother and daughter, somehow I felt it would console me.  

I watched North & South all the way through that night. I cried at all the scenes with John and Hannah, cried when Margaret’s parents both died and cried again when John said “look back, look back at me." That night I fell in love again with John Thornton. 

More than that, for reasons I still don’t understand, watching North & South that weekend gave me the will and the strength to continue on. John Thornton and the man who gave him life, Richard Armitage, will always have a special place in my heart. 

It was also that night that I first searched for "Richard Armitage fan sites."   

That most handsome man of all I first saw as John Thornton in 2005 is now handsomer than ever.  

Join a special 10th Anniversary  ArmitageWatch:

 and the NS10 Group on Facebook:


  1. Love this, Fabo. I find it fascinating that we each take something different from N&S. Gaskell's story is so rich and complex that it's hard to imagine that she was considered a minor novelist.

    1. Thank you jazzbaby :) yes, very interesting so many of us have an emotional connection to N&S. I read N&S, but need to read more Gaskell.

  2. Perhaps the only PBS station that showed it? Thank you for sharing your N&S story.

    1. I've encountered two RA fans who saw it on PBS. One you can read about here- just a sentence and then my comment to her below: and someone years ago on a blog who posted a review of North and South saying she saw it on PBS. I swear it was a station somewhere in the Carolinas or further south. So that's three of us, all in different locations in the US, but all saw it on PBS.


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