Before Richard Armitage became a Hollywood star in films like The Hobbit and Ocean’s Eight, he played the brooding Romantic Hero, John Thornton in BBC’s period drama North & South (2004) based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1855 classic novel.
When the drama first premiered, the BBC had low expectations. So, it was a shock when, on the same day, the program’s message board crashed the website because of the number of visitors.
The adaptation follows Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), a young woman from southern England who moves to Milton (fictional town based on Manchester) when her father leaves the clergy over a matter of conscience.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South first appeared in Charles Dickens’ magazine, Household Words, in serialized weekly episodes from 1854 to 1855.
After a long, grueling casting process, the production team cast the relatively unknown actors Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage as the leads in the 2004 adaptation.
The romantic drama premiered on November 14, 2004, on the BBC.