The 6 Most Adorable Leading Men In Cookson

A good man is hard to find, especially in the rough and tumble of Catherine Cookson sagas. But here are some of the fine, fine fellows who make us go all gooey inside.

The Glass Virgin

1. MANUEL MENDOZA

An Irishman called Manuel Mendoza? This is only one of the unusual things about the hero of The Glass Virgin. The other is just how massively wonderful he is. Somehow managing to be both hunky and cherubic (that's Brendan Coyle's pinchable cheeks for you), the stable hand has so much quiet strength, he almost makes the horses swoon. During the story we see him dive in front of rampaging horses to save a little girl, stand up to bullying tyrants, and go to prison after protecting his lady's honour. He's utterly decent and honourable while also retaining a sexy air of risk and danger. Now that's a rare blend in a man.

2. BEN SMITH-JONES-OR-ROBINSON

When his employer brings home a poor girl called Millie to live with them in The Rag Nymph, Ben doesn't get jealous or resentful. He's used to making the best of situations with his winningly self-deprecating sense of humour. Why, he even calls himself "Ben Smith-Jones-or-Robinson" in mocking reference to his own rocky childhood, and when Millie finally decides to pick him as her partner, he keeps expecting her to "come to her senses" and leave him. And did we mention the fact he almost dies while saving Millie from an evil thug? Because he does.

Matthew Turnbull played by Ray Stevenson in The Dwelling Place.

Matthew Turnbull played by Ray Stevenson in The Dwelling Place.

3. MATTHEW TURNBULL

He's a penniless carpenter who's forced to marry a woman he doesn't love just to keep his head above water. So it would be completely understandable if Matthew Turnbull just decided to shun the world and look after number one. Instead, he becomes the selfless devotee of orphan girl Cissie Brodie and her many siblings in The Dwelling Place. Not only does he help them create a new home for themselves, but he arranges for them to get food, work and money, agonises over their well-being, and jeapordises his own future just to keep them happy. And in return he gets... nowt. The poor, hopeless, wonderful lovestruck fool.

4. MICHAEL STANHOPE

Cocky, swaggering, ever so slightly pretentious - Michael Stanhope is the odd one out on this list, because this handsome portrait painter isn't immediately adorable like the other blokes we've talked about. But what he is, is a dashing romantic and a breath of fresh air in the bigotry-filled world of Colour Blind. When mixed race teenager Rose Angela comes to work for him as a maid, she's endured years of prejudice and hardship. But Michael treats her first with complete respect, and then with tender passion, facing up to lethal threats to be with her. And he's not above a bit of begging too, when he thinks he'll lose her. How can you not be won over?

Freddie Musgrave played by Colin Buchanan in The Secret.

Freddie Musgrave played by Colin Buchanan in The Secret.

5. FREDDIE MUSGRAVE

Sure, he had a shady past as a messenger and smuggler for very bad men, but when we meet The Secret's Freddie Musgrave he's completely reinvented himself as a suited and booted businessman. That's not why we adore him, though. We adore him because of what a sweet, shy softie he is behind that no-nonsense exterior. Devoted to the woman who raised him and determined to make a clean living, he's an angel in a world of devils, and he's so darn gentlemanly that he won't even confess his love to his beloved Belle - his internal struggle is all there right in every pained glance he gives her. Bless.

Charles Farrier played by Edward Atterton in The Wingless Bird.

Charles Farrier played by Edward Atterton in The Wingless Bird.

6. CHARLES FARRIER

If a golden retriever was magically turned into a handsome human, that human would be Charles Farrier. He makes his first appearance in The Wingless Bird when he wanders into a sweetshop and falls madly in love with shop assistant Agnes - a fact that makes his posh parents furiously indignant. Not that Charlie cares what they think. Gushingly enraptured by Agnes, he is willing to give up his privileged life to be with her. By the way, Charlie's brother Reginald also falls for Agnes, but what does Charlie do? He gives them his implicit blessing while on his deathbed. What a guy.