North and South

North and South is a British television drama serial, produced by the BBC and originally broadcast in 2004. It follows the story of Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), a young woman from southern England who has to move to the North after her father decides to leave the clergy. The family struggles to adjust itself to the industrial town's customs, especially after meeting the Thorntons, a proud family of cotton mill owners who seem to despise their social inferiors. The story explores the issues of class and gender, as Margaret's sympathy for the town mill workers conflicts with her growing attraction to John Thornton (Richard Armitage).

The serial is based on the 1855 Victorian novel of the same title by Elizabeth Gaskell.

As the BBC had low expectations for the series, it was not well publicised and went almost unnoticed by critics. Audiences, however, were more receptive; hours after the first episode aired in November 2004, the message board of the programme’s website crashed because of the number of visitors the site was receiving, forcing host to shut it down. This sudden interest on the serial was attributed to Richard Armitage, a relatively unknown actor, whose portrayal of the emotionally restrained John Thornton drew parallels with Colin Firth's portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy on the BBC's 1995 mini-series Pride and Prejudice, and the reception he later received.

North and South was voted "Best Drama" in the BBC drama website's annual poll in 2004. Richard Armitage was voted "Most Desirable Drama Star" and "Best Actor", Daniela Denby-Ashe was voted "Best Actress" (Sinead Cusack came in third) and three different scenes were voted as the year's "Favourite Moments", with the final scene winning the number one spot.

>>Watch trailer

Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) and
John Thornton (Richard Armitage)

The North

The South

~~Other Characters~~

Richard Hale (Tim Pigott-Smith)

Maria Hale (Lesley Manville)

Dixon (Pauline Quirke)

Hannah Thornton (Sinéad Cusack)

Fannie (Jo Joyner)

Bessy Higgins (Anna Maxwell Martin)

Nicholas Higgins (Brendan Coyle)

Frederick Hale (Rupert Evans)

Henry Lennox (John Light)


  1. Another great link to add would be C19. You have to join, but there is a huge sub board about North and South, Richard Armitage, and 19th century literature in general.

  2. Thanks for reminding me about that one!

  3. North and South is both a brilliant read and the TV adaptation is also fantastic. Armitage's acting is easily comparable to that of Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice.

  4. Richard Armitage is one of my fav actors! He took my breath away acting as John Thorton. I only wish that he can take a leading role as Mr Darcy in a new version of BBC's Pride and Prejudice.

  5. As much as I adore Richard Armitage, I don't think I'd like to see him as Darcy. The character is too close to Thornton's.

  6. I just saw North and South and I must say : OMG it's great period drama! As much as I love Austen's work and adaptations, I really enjoyed this one, even if we all know how it's gonna end ;)
    BTW I LOVE your blog. I'm discovering lots of things about period dramas! Thanks for creating this

  7. Emilie,
    North & South is special, isn't it? Glad you enjoy the blog :)

  8. It really is, it reminds me of my classes at university about the industrial period decribed in the series... Not particularly good memories but it's great to see this put in movies!
    I just bought the dvd, and now i'll begin to watch wives and daughters and also cranford (to follow my education about E.Gaskell) Are these series any good? As much as N&S?

  9. Emilie, that's cool that you studied the industrial era! One thing I like about period films is that they make history more interesting than when we had to study it in school! As for W&D and Cranford, if you check my list of 'Top 30 Films', you'll see they're my absolute faves! There's something about Gaskell that stirs me more than the Austen adaptations!

  10. AAHHHH I just finished watching it and I'm in love. Why have I never watched it before!? Thank you for this beautiful site and introducing me to so many wonderful movies!!

  11. Thanks Anon, glad you discovered North and South!!

  12. Oh my can I adequately describe how much I am in love - with the movie and, uhm... one Mr Thornton!!! I can't stop watching my favourite bits from it since watching it for the first time 2 days ago! this site provided some great pictures, so thanks!
    I definitely will be reading the book soon.

  13. Why is it I never tire of this film or the novel?

    I can't even say how many times I have watched the film.

    I have indeed read the novel twice and am looking forward to another re-read soon. I know there are a lot of people who love the film adaption better then the novel but I love them both because of the differences. Everyone I know hates the way the novel ended but even I would say Ms. Gaskell would be pleased how the film adaption ended with that all important and passionate kiss between Mr. Thornton and Margaret.

    Simply fabulous! Not to mention I fell in love with Richard Armitage and couldn't get enough of him on DVD and now the movies!

    Gaskell has become one of my favorite classic British authors next to Jane Austen of course!



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