8 Reasons Why We Swoon For John Thornton

Richard Armitage became an instant small screen idol as the brooding mill owner in North and South. Here’s why he’s so darn irresistible.

North and South

1 HE LOOKS LIKE RICHARD ARMITAGE

Not to be shallow or anything, but anyone with Richard Armitage's face, hair and physique is going to have a head start in winning us over. And, given that John Thornton is actually played by Richard Armitage, he has all the aforementioned Armitage advantages in place. Swoon.

2 HE'S DANGEROUS

Much as we adore Jane Austen's leading men, they aren't generally renowned as men of action. Not so John Thornton, who's certainly not afraid to get stuck into a good scrap when the situation demands it. Indeed, the first time we set eyes on him, he's fighting a foolish employee who came close to accidentally setting fire to the cotton mill. Never has the enforcement of workplace health and safety regulations looked so exciting.

3 HE BROODS REALLY, REALLY WELL

As well as happening to look dark and mysterious (see the Armitage entry above), John Thornton lives up his physical appearance by actually BEING dark and mysterious. The man spends at least 70% of his waking moments brooding, agonising, and generally looking very attractively tormented. The best of all is when he does it while late at night with his white shirt partly undone.

4 HE'S A SENSITIVE INTELLECTUAL

Well, we're partly fibbing here. John Thornton doesn't come across as either sensitive or an intellectual to begin with. But he WANTS to grow as a man, and he has inner depths that slowly become apparent to us - and to Margaret Hale, the woman he falls in love with. Look out for the moment she hands him a philosophy book and he looks genuinely overcome with emotion. It's just beautiful.

5 HE CARES ABOUT HIS WORKERS

Unlike the other dastardly business owners of his time, John Thornton actually shows compassion for the people who toil in his mill. He even pays out a hefty amount of money to install a system to filter the air, which actually helps save people's lives - something other masters refuse to do. What a man.

6 HE'S JUST COCKY ENOUGH...

There's a fine line between "attractively confident" and "obnoxiously arrogant". John Thornton never strays over it, though he always exudes a kind of power that will get hearts racing. Whether he's gazing out at his business empire or staring down at Margaret Hale in that knowing way of his, he has a brash cockiness we can't resist.

7 ...BUT HE'S ALSO VULNERABLE

John Thornton may be tough and confident on the outside, but he has a soft side which just makes him adorable. What other "alpha male" would so openly confess his own lack of romantic confidence? At one point he even says about Margaret, "She would never have me." Which would sound self-pitying if spoken by a lesser man, but coming from Thornton it just adds to his gorgeous complexity.

8 HE'S UTTERLY ELIGIBLE

Is it crass to also point out that he's a wealthy bachelor, and therefore one of the most eligible men of his region? Maybe, but let's face it - it just adds to the many perks of John Thornton. Let's hope he finds a nice lady to settle down with (even if it will make us very, very jealous indeed).