I knew nothing of either "North and South" or Richard Armitage when I first sat down to watch this wonderful 4-part series.
But I sure did once I got up four hours later!
I knew that I'd discovered one of the best working actors I'd ever seen.
The other reviewers will undoubtedly cover the overall excellence of the production itself, the other actors, the music, etc. I just want to wax on about this amazing man who so totally infused John Thornton with his energy and talent.
Aside from his general "swoon-ability," he never hit a misstep. Every look, line delivery, and body movement was spot on! From the first time he opened his mouth to scream, "STEPHENS!" at the top of his lungs to his soft, boyishly joyful "Coming home with me?" at the end, I simply couldn't take my eyes of him.
He's not handsome in a traditional way. At first glance, I was rather dismissive of the much-heralded "Darcy" factor. He looked autocratic, harsh featured, and snarly as he was seen through a cloud of cotton fluff surveying the workers in his cotton mill. Two or three scenes later, when he smiled, I nearly fell onto my floor in a swoon. And I am not particularly given to giddy swooning as a general rule.
Unfortunately, the BBCA cut out nearly 14 minutes from each episode, so it wasn't until I watched the region 2 DVD that I bought from amazon.co.uk, that I saw some key missing scenes which explained the story development better. And of course, included with the "goodies" is a post-production interview with RA himself. I am looking forward to the release of the region 1 DVD next week.
I think that one of the main reasons that I enjoyed RA's portrayal so much was because he really brought a fully-developed male character to life in a Victorian drama.