Happy Thursday everyone.
Today, I am sharing with you the UK’s version of North & South. Now I know there is a US mini-series called North & South, but, this is a separate series set in the British industrial revolution.
Filmed in 2004, it stars the delectable Richard Armitage (Mr Thornton), as the mill owner, and the beautiful Daniela Denby-Ashe who plays vicars daughter, Miss Hale.
A brief outline.
Set amid the industrial revolution, an elderly vicar who is questioning his faith, moves his family from their idyllic rural vicarage in the south of England, to the industrial cotton mill town of Milton, in the north. The only employment for the majority of the townsfolk, (men, women and children) is to work in one of the dozens of cotton mills in the town, one of which Mr Thornton owns.
There is a real divide between the wealthy mill owners and the poverty and squalor the workers live in. Often more than one family sharing a house of only two rooms, where, vermin, hunger and overcrowding were a way of life.
It also covers the rise of the unions and the first strike action taken by the mill workers.
Margaret’s first impression of John Thornton is one of a brutal mill owner who treats his workers with contempt, while John sees Miss Hale as a spoilt and interfering outsider. Yet their paths often cross. Mr Thornton is trying to improve his education by reading the classics with Margaret’s father. Meanwhile, Miss Hale has befriended a worker, Nicholas Higgins, (played by Downton’s Brendan Coyle) and his motherless children. They meet when he rescues her from a purse snatcher. Mr Higgins is heavily involved in arranging and promoting the strike action. When Higgins daughter dies, Margaret becomes more involved in the plight of the workers.
The outcome of the strike is the poor are poorer and the mill is having its loan called in by the bank.
The chemistry between them, both on screen and off, is present from their very first meeting. After many meetings at her house and the mill, Mr Thornton proposed to Miss Hale. Sadly for us, Margaret refuses him, and John takes this very badly. He assumes that Margaret thinks as a self-educated northerner, he is not good enough for her. However, this is not so, it is a catalogue of misunderstandings and a family secret that keeps them apart.
After both, Margaret’s parents die, and John is on the brink of losing his mill, fate finally smiles on our lover.
Margaret, now an orphan, moves back to London to live with her aunt again. Having inherited some money from her fathers friend, (who by the way also wanted to marry her himself but realises she loves another) Margaret decides to invest her money in Johns mill and travels to Milton to discuss the proposition with him. Meanwhile, John, thinking Margaret has gone back to her old family home, visits Helstone in the hope of seeing with her. While there, he picks one of the yellow roses he has heard Margaret speak of.
While travelling back to London from Milton, the train makes a quick stop to pick up more passenger. It is then that Margaret sees Mr Thornton sitting on a train going back up to the north. They both step out onto the platform and . . . .
the look of love
I love this series, and if you have never seen it I highly recommend that you buy the DVD, or watch it on YouTube. Richard and Daniela both give believable and entrancing performances throughout each of the four episodes.
Mr Thornton has been named as the Mr Darcy of the north, and on this performance I can truly believe it.
Elizabeth Gaskell is a later version of Jane Austen, but her novels are not only set in a different time and place, (modelled on Manchester) but almost a different world. They are grittier and sometimes thought provoking, but without her, there would be no Mr Thornton to swoon over.