It’s Been One Year Since #RichardArmitage Had Me at “Stephens!”


John Thornton shouts at the hapless Stephens, North and South, BBC 2004, Episode 1. I was a goner from that moment on.

In the process of going through my PayPal records looking for business expenditures, I noticed that my first payment to Netflix was the first week of April, 2014. It just so happens that the first show I ever streamed on Netflix was BBC’s wonderful 2004 adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, and although I didn’t know it at the time, my life was about to change. So yeah… I guess this is something of a One Year Fanniversary for me!

From the moment I saw John Thornton overlooking the mill floor, my heart started thudding. A few seconds later, the gorgeous jerk shouted “Stephens! Put that pipe out!” then chased the unfortunate smoker down, and delivered a beating. I was toast.

So, in honor of this occasion, I’ve been busily giffing away on North and South… many of these have probably been giffed a thousand times, but I wanted my own little John Thornton library. Prepare for Thornton Thursday overload, ladies. And pray for a fast connection, because I might have gone a bit wild. LOL

Oh, and if you, for some completely unfathomable reason have NOT watched North and South, there be spoilers below. =)


I Saw You

Thornton chases Stephens, violently furious.

Get That Woman Out Of Here

The ideal gentleman, surely! LOL

Something about Richard Armitage’s fury, his energy and  on-screen magnetism just gripped me in those moments, and I knew that this was going to be something more than an enjoyable period drama. From then on, he absolutely dominated every scene he was in, and I really haven’t been the same since.




Meet Thornton

Meet John Thornton. Properly, this time. Such an arrogant turn, and head set. Damn but he’s fine. THUD.

Turn Away

It seems I like to watch John turn in either direction!

Something in the way John Thornton held himself. Something in the way he turned around to face Margaret. In fact, whichever direction he turned, impressed me.






sinister thornton

Thornton hosts a dinner party for the mill owners.


Thornton watches the workers enter the meeting hall.

He embodied the sinister Master so well. No sentimentality for the plight of the workers, just pragmatic business sense. Yet… he didn’t join the others in mocking the workers. And he didn’t try to stop the union from meeting.





Thornton Ogles Subtlly

Mr. Thornton very subtly ogles Miss Hale as she serves his tea.


Thornton greets Miss Hale at the dinner party.

I found myself transfixed at every minute twitch of his lips, every brief eyelid flicker when Mr. Thornton would gaze at Miss Hale.







hand language

Miss Hale refuses to shake John Thornton’s hand.


Miss Hale allows Thornton to shake her hand. And caress it ever so slightly…

Soon I began to develop a fascination for Thornton’s hand language. Not only are his hands beautiful to look at, but they’re eloquent. This has not abated. One of the reasons I’m not as into Thorin as many of the other chaRActers may have been that his hands were obscured…






Not the slightest wish

His passion for her is entirely over. Can’t you tell? =)

I understand you completely

I can’t think of another proposal scene that made my heart race as this one did.

Then there was the intensity of his smoldering. Not sure where I’ve ever seen the like. Armitage delivered barely suppressed, strong emotion in spades after Margaret rejected John’s proposal, and after John shielded Margaret from the inquest.





Stride 1stride2
I guess since we’re listing all the things that made me instantly obsessed with Thornton, I’d have to include his stride. It wouldn’t have done for Thornton to mince along, or swagger western-style. No, he would move with purpose and determination everywhere he went, and I never tire of watching him in motion.



Mr. Hale Dead

Thornton learns of the death of his friend, Mr. Hale.


More eloquent hand language. John realizes that there is now nothing to keep Margaret in Milton.

The final episode was full of angst on Thornton’s part. When he learned of Mr. Hale’s death, and knew it meant Margaret would also depart Milton, his grief was palpable.





Look Back

Mr. Thornton stares in desolation as Miss Hale begins her journey back to London. She does not look back.

I am certain that no John Thornton tribute would be complete without a nod to the famous “Look back. Look back at me.” Everyone I’ve steered toward watching North and South has referenced this scene and those lines.

It broke my heart, too.








empty mill

Thornton stands alone in the empty mill. He thinks of Margaret.


Yellow Rose

Not telling even his mother where he is going, John leaves Milton and travels to Helstone, where Margaret grew up. Was he looking for her, or simply seeking an emotional connection, a shared memory that would remain private in his heart?

As if the death of Mr. Hale and the subsequent separation from Margaret were not enough, Thornton was now devastated by financial crisis and foreclosure. Having lost almost everything that was important to him, aside from the abiding love of his mother, we were left with not a shattered man, but certainly a despondent and contemplative Thornton.




Train Station 1

Margaret Hale on the southbound train. John Thornton on the northbound train. My heart began to beat faster…

Train Station 2

The contrast here, this Thornton, with cravat off and a soft gaze… compared to the sinister and even violent man from the first episode: Is It Any Wonder I Was Captivated by this chaRActer, this actor?

Never having read Gaskell’s novel, I remember thinking at this point, with so little time left in the program, that this particular period drama must have no happy ending. I was prepared for heartbreak. Then, the train station…





Kiss 1Naturally, no post chock-full of celebration for Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and South would be complete without remarking upon The Train Station Kiss. Excuse me while I ovulate.

The legendary kiss to end all kisses. Such lovely music. Such restrained reverence in his eyes and in his touch.




Kiss 2So tender, his lips. Such a captivating jaw line.







Kiss 3And don’t even get me started on the simple elegance of his hand.





And there you have it. Gorgeous, passionate, sinister, furious, smoldering, heartsick, tender, loving John Thornton. Is it any wonder that North and South is the proverbial “gateway drug” for so many in the fandom?


  1. JenniferNAdams · April 9, 2015

    Awesome post! N&S is one of my favorite RA movies of all times! I’ve even read the book a couple of times as well. 🙂


    • jholland · April 9, 2015

      Thank you, and welcome Jennifer! This post was no hardship to put together. John Thornton holds a special place for me. He was my first “awakening” to RA, though I’d seen him as Thorin and thought offhand that he was talented and attractive. In fact, if it weren’t for having seen RA performing live, Thornton would be my number one chaRActer… now I sort of waffle between Thornton and Proctor. I’ve said before that Proctor surpassed Thornton for me, but then when I started the N&S giffing project, I seem to have reversed my position for the time being. LOL

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Helen · April 9, 2015

    Sigh…. Thornton was my gateway drug too. I can NEVER have too many gifs of him so many thanks! ☺️😘


    • jholland · April 9, 2015

      Yes, I fully agree. Thornton really can not be over-giffed. It’s a natural phenomenon. Like a law of physics, or something. LOL

      Liked by 2 people

      • Teuchter · April 9, 2015

        My gateway too! And you are right about the gifs. For me there can never be too many so keep ’em comin’! One thing that astounded me about him in N&S was his ability to (as I call it) act with his eyes alone. I had never seen this in an actor before and it blew me away. One scene – among many many others – for me in this regard was when he was walking down through that dingy alley to visit Higgins and he is just looking about him at the squalor and poverty; probably never having been there before. His eyes spoke volumes. I know that’s not the best example but it has always stuck with me.


        • jholland · April 9, 2015

          When I get back to work, I’m going to make a gif of that walk through the alley for you, Teuchter! (Because that’s the kind of responsible workplace ethic I like to encourage, lol!) I actually almost added that scene when he gives the little girl a coin and smiles sadly at her. LOVE that moment. Sigh.


        • jholland · April 10, 2015

          Here you are, Teuchter. You’re right… his eyes say it all.

          And, for me, the sad smile after he hands the little girl a coin…

          By episode 4, I was so in love with Thornton I didn’t know what to do with myself. LOL


        • Helen · April 10, 2015

          Oh, that’s fabulous… I’d forgotten that bit…

          Liked by 1 person

  3. MargotMat · April 9, 2015

    What a great overview of all the reasons we love John Thornton! The first time I saw N&S (not knowing who RA was then) I liked the show a lot, as I enjoy period dramas in general, but didn’t get addicted. At the second viewing – because, yes, I found myself wanting to watch it again- RA had me with his voice. Not when he yelled “Stephens” 😉 but with the line “We make cotton” during the tea scene.:D Don’t ask me why that line precisely Lol… and then I noticed the smoulder, the posture, the elegant hands, and the rest is history. 🙂


    • jholland · April 9, 2015

      Oh, I forgot about that line… but I loved it, too! For you, then:

      Liked by 1 person

      • MargotMat · April 9, 2015

        Awww… The bewildered face, the blinking eyes, the pinch of the lips… Thank you! and kudos for your gifs. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • jholland · April 10, 2015

          Yes, the furrowed brow and slight shake of the head as if he’s thinking to himself “Well, duh!” (but too polite to say it)… And yes, his lips were really cute in this moment.


  4. Helen · April 9, 2015

    My other favourite is “I’m not sure I’d know how to dabble” when they are at the great exhibition 😉


    • jholland · April 9, 2015

      Ah, yes. I remember thinking “Oh, I bet you are more than able to dabble, you sexy thing.” LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen · April 10, 2015

        Ooo, thank you 😉 Yes, but it was a splendid put-down 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • jholland · April 10, 2015

          It was. Henry deserved it. (Though I did like Henry, I didn’t care for his posturing. LOL)


  5. MargotMat · April 9, 2015

    This one too! Yes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Guylty · April 9, 2015

    “Excuse me while I ovulate” ROFL helplessly. Lovely post, J. I always love reading how my fellow fans found their way to the man, what gripped them about his performance, and how the character and the performance have left some sort of mark. I came to appreciate Thornton much later than my first encounter with him, strangely enough, but now I believe that he was indeed one of the finest characters that RA ever crafted!


    • jholland · April 9, 2015

      Ah, yes. I remember the main reason I went for N&S was because I was coming off of a P&P binge and saw that N&S was listed on some website that said “if you like P&P, you’ll probably like…”
      … and after I fell helplessly in love with Thornton, I thought to myself that he “out-Darcy’d Mr. Darcy himself” in the brooding, unrequited love category. =)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hariclea · April 9, 2015

    This is a happy fanniversary indeed! Congrats and to many more! ! And the gifs are just perfect and put me too back into it 🙂 thanks so much for that! may i say every single time he turns and shows me that profile my heart hitches. . Turn, stop, thud!


  8. Servetus · April 9, 2015

    Happy Fanniversary! We’re so glad you’re here, sharing in the love of Mr. Thornton (and others).


    • jholland · April 9, 2015

      Aw, thanks, Serv. It’s just very nice to know that while I may be a bit crazed when it comes to this actor, at least I’m not alone in my affliction! =)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. trudystattle · April 9, 2015

    Congrats on one year! Here’s to many more infatuated years. Richard’s Thornton must be the gold standard in period drama heroes. The combustion he has caused…the hours thousands have spent online because of that one role….that initial crash of the BBC message board….it all just proves that this was a role for the decades to watch.
    I loved what you said about his stride. Knowing RA now, I can see how every step Thornton took must have been intended to express some internal emotion/trait of the character.
    Oh, and I think he went to Helstone just to understand her better. To see where she’d come from and how much she must have endured in leaving it. He had no hope of every winning her, but he wanted to know more about the great love of his life. I don’t think he would have ever married anyone else. sigh
    And I remember someone saying that Richard and Sinead could act with their spinal chords. It’s true. Even with just a view of their backs you knew what was going on their mind. The whole production is brilliant. It will be fun to watch people fall under its spell for the coming second decade!


    • jholland · April 9, 2015

      I totally agree… the entire cast was stellar. Yes, Thornton is the embodiment of period drama heartthrob, and Richard’s performance was so nuanced and brilliant, but I’d be hard-pressed to name anyone in N&S who wasn’t perfectly cast. Hannah Thornton, Higgins, Mr. Bell, Mr. Hale, Margaret… the list goes on! What surprises me is that I’d never heard of it until last year! And everyone I’ve managed to talk into watching it has thought it was great, even Hubby, who is not AT ALL into period dramas. And yes, I think it’s a timeless classic and will continue to draw new RA “converts” down through the years. =)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Esther · April 10, 2015

    Happy anniversary! And oh my, what a lovely post with all those gifs!! I just adore adore ADORE N&S, have done so ever since I first saw it 9 years ago on DVD. Not just RA, everyone was so excellent in it! I think besides John and Margaret, I loved the Hannah character most! 🙂 Oh, and the Higgins-Thornton friendship that develops in the last episode… so beautiful. And that kiss… yes… I seriously it believe it is the best kissing scene on screen ever. Anyway, lovely to re-live it all again through your post. This remains up there with some of the very best work Richard Armitage has ever done. Stand out performance given by what turned out to become my favorite actor.


    • jholland · April 10, 2015

      Thanks, Esther! Yes, it is very eye-pleasing, this post. LOL
      For you: this shows the tentative camaraderie that was developed in part 4 between Thornton and Higgins. And, well, Thornton taking a bite of food. Which I can’t help but stare at. =)


      • Helen · April 10, 2015

        Love the raised eyebrows when he tastes how good it is 🙂


        • jholland · April 10, 2015

          Yes. Add that to the list of reasons it would be nice to have John Thornton over to dinner. =)
          Talk about mouth-watering table fare. LOL


      • Esther · April 12, 2015

        Ah, yes, lovely!!! Thank you!! 🙂


  11. linnetmoss · April 10, 2015

    Congratulations on your Fanniversary, and thanks for the generous gift of gifs 🙂 I love the subtle ogle!


    • jholland · April 10, 2015

      Thanks, Linnet! I find giffing to be RAther theRApeutic! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      • linnetmoss · April 11, 2015

        Yes, I haven’t learned how to gif (yet) but I feel the same way about screen caps.


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