F3, Day Five! One voice to thrill them all, and Armitage to bind them!

Welcome to Day Five of FanstRAvaganza 3, with nineteen new posts planned for you to enjoy!

Some posts are scheduled to appear automatically, while others will be posted manually. Keep in mind that not every link may be live until the end of the event day at 23:59, London time. Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day, too!

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TGIF! F3, Day Five, in the tagteams:

In the Hobbit chain, Mrs. E.B. Darcy projects what our hero may do in TH: There and Back Again (spoilers!) Ana Cris discusses a Maori ceremony Mr. Armitage witnessed in New Zealand’s mountains In King Richard Armitage, fitzg guestposts at judiang‘s on non-Richard III roles for Armitage in a Richard III project In fanfic, Jas Rangoon continues her modern N&S fic, “Maggie & John: A Modern Love Story” Maria Grazia presents an interview with Cat Winchester and giveaway of her book, Northern Light In freeform, fedoralady asks about our dream Armitage-narrated audiobooks At his blog, John Thornton wonders if anyone else could play him Agzy historicizes Heinz Kruger’s sartorial choices — and what’s underneath them! In fandom, jazzbaby1 maps Armitage in the Tommyverse Rose Gisborne paints a rainbow of RichardsLinks to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!

and in the core:

RAFrenzy on “Flying” phoebe guests at Richard Armitage Fan Blog with advice for dealing with Armitage addiction Traxy is inspired by Between the Sheets Fanny interviews Wattpad author LadyBrandon23 Jonia presents an Armitage soundtrack and collagesmulubinba discusses Armitage’s preparation to play Thorin Oakenshield bccmee on “her first”: Harry Kennedy • and CDoart on Armitage in historical hairstyles Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!

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And at “me + richard armitage?” It’s dorky fan-on-fan admiration day!

Or, if you need a subtitle: “me + richard armitage online”!

Like most new fans, I ran across Richard Armitage Online very early on in Armitagemania. I was probably hitting that site thirty or forty times a day for the first week after I discovered it. So, when I got drawn into F1, the creator of the site — whom I didn’t know — was the sole candidate for “Richard Armitage fan I most admired.” Through diligent reading I discovered her name was Annette and she could be contacted through the webpage. So I wrote her, a fan of a whole month or so, and brazenly asked her for an interview on my mostly unvisited blog — of which she was already aware! When she said “no,” citing her desire to stay in the background, I was unsurprised. She’d obviously been a fan for a long time, and didn’t know me from Eve. I could turn out to be a jerk. I thought, I’ll ask her again later, if there is a later. Last year, for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to ask her for F2, but I had actually wanted to do all interviews for F3. Why didn’t I? A couple of planned ones fell through, and two of them didn’t mature in time and are still in progress. (So you have something to look forward to this spring.) But I still really wanted to interview Annette, so I wrote her and asked her again. I decided to change my approach — and proposed an interview that discussed only the website and asked nothing about her or her reaction to Mr. Armitage. She again said “no.” She thought about it, but she still really wants to stay in the background. Well, okay, I can understand that. Fair enough: there are things I’m not saying about myself here, as well, and things I want not to happen as a consequence of blogging.

But damn, I love this website! So interview or no interview, today I’m writing about what I love about Richard Armitage Online! Annette doesn’t know I’m doing this. I didn’t ask for permission. I’m sure I’m embarrassing her, but I am taking the risk, since I’m not discussing her, but rather the website.  Her “about” page stresses that it’s a collaborative effort in many ways, and notes her affection for the C19ers, of whom she is an active member. It occurs to me I should also add the unnecessary disclaimer that my extreme like for this page does not imply dislike for any other Armitage fan pages. I link to all y’all regularly, after all! And since I eventually write about everything, probably I’ll eventually gush about the other sites, too. There are things I like about all of them.

[At left: a divinity library I’ve used. Not the kind of library likely to archive Armitage’s oeuvre.]

I was thinking just now about why I like the site so much, and I conclude that it’s because of my professional training. To me, this is the most clearly “historical” of the fan sites, and indeed, Nat once called it the “RA Library.” Richard Armitage Online pleases me because it salves over a lot of the ambivalence I feel about the form and documentary aspect of my fangirling. In my professional life, one of the most important things I do is identifying, collating, preserving, and analyzing sources for the topic I study. It’s important that I be exact, correct, scrupulous, comprehensive — and most of all, timely. There’s no point in my work if it simply recapitulates someone else’s. Unfortunately, all of that stuff takes a lot of time. When I started writing this blog I swore I wasn’t simply going to relive work — I wasn’t going to document everything, or get tense if I didn’t scoop people — I was only going to write about what I enjoyed writing about. “me + richard armitage” thus documents the life and career of a fan of Richard Armitage — not the life and career of Richard Armitage himself. I don’t apologize for this emphasis and I enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes from not having to discuss topics that don’t carry any particular interest for me. At the same time, however, I can’t just stop being Professor Servetus, at least not completely, and so I have a need for a particular kind of information about Richard Armitage — without wanting to create it myself. In other words: Richard Armitage Online makes Servetus the Armitage blogger possible. I think I was relatively aware of this aspect of my fan-on-fan love pretty quickly after starting to blog.

But now it’s two years later, and blogging for that time has given me an inkling of what it must be like to maintain that huge site, with all the potential link rot, all the copyright issues, the new information popping up — and the new technologies that the webmaster has to learn about and exploit or reject while maintaining the most useful legacy material intact. So now I admire not only the documentary facet of the site — but also the dedication and self-discipline that’s required to maintain all of that. Go, Annette!

[Oh, wait. I wasn’t going to praise or embarrass Annette. Oops. This may be your own fault for deleting your guestbook, you know. This whole website is a sustained exercise in blaming the victim, after all. Why should you be an exception?]

So here, in no particular order, are just a few things I love about Richard Armitage Online.

The “theatre” section. Richard Armitage Online is the best of the fan sites for information about Armitage’s theater career. Two reasons I love this section: first, we’re talking about the younger Armitage — the one whose career was not yet made — and it’s fun to read these sections and think about Armitage the young man, moving from a background in dance and musical theatre to LAMDA and the RSC. More details as to earlier roles for which little documentation has yet been produced can be found on the site’s biography page. Here we get a brief glimpse at someone who was scraping out his living in the background of the theatrical world before he moved on to drama school and then made the key decision to seek more television roles. Favorite detail: he played Uriah Heep! The second reason I enjoy this section of the site is that Armitage studied classical theater and apparently sought to be a stage actor first. In other words, here are the roots of an entirely different career that he might have had. It’s thought-provoking to think about it, what might have happened if he’d gotten larger classical roles more quickly, and whether I’d have even encountered him. And then there’s also the work that went into researching and locating the images on these pages, which can’t have been easy.

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A screen-shot of materials from Armitage’s early days in theater, in The Four Alice Bakers with Sophia Myles, from Richard Armitage Online. Important early documentation of that cowlick, too.

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The career chronology pages. (There’s one in each section of the site. Here, for example, is the TV page.) This is where I go whenever I’m writing an analytical piece that requires a statement as to what was happening when (an important job in the work of a historian is establishing a solid chronology at the beginning — something that is a lot harder than you might think, given conflicting information and the notorious sloppiness and inaccuracy of news outlets). A lot of the information archived here has simply disappeared in the interval since it was actual, and thus in some cases I’d simply be speculating about the course of Armitage’s career if I didn’t have access to these pages.

The authoritative language, concise introductions, and pithy judgments in the descriptions of the roles / productions Armitage has appeared in. I admit that I take well-written materials more seriously; concise use of language suggests to me a more acute mind, and attention to detail suggests to me a care for the product that can be a first step toward convincing me of the value of an indexing source. But my appreciation of the site goes beyond its effective, well-organized prose. When I started, the judgments on the page were invaluable to me — particularly as an outsider to UK television. For Armitage’s initial audiences in the UK, I’m sure, the valences associated with roles in series like “Doctors” or “Casualty” were entirely clear. They weren’t for me. The site’s contextual introductions to the series and roles were influential on the development of my understanding of Armitage’s career. At the beginning, too, they facilitated my decisions about which pieces to look at and which to buy vs. rent or snaffle somehow. I probably wouldn’t have purchased Sparkhouse if the site hadn’t been so enthusiastic — but I could believe that enthusiasm because the site content is not just cheerleading. These texts manage to be uniformly positive about the place of certain roles in Armitage’s career while still giving the reader a sense of which roles are more (or less) worthwhile to invest time in watching — or which roles are appropriate for which audiences. After knowing more I didn’t always agree — but if I hadn’t had these introductions, I might not have even have gone to examine some of these roles in the first place. In short: this kind of index creates and shapes the scholar. Also, as I asked myself if it wasn’t silly to be writing a blog about Armitage from the perspective of an academic, this site, in its precision, sharpness, and meticulousness, encouraged me to think it wasn’t completely ridiculous to take a “frivolous” topic seriously.

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Servetus: Sold on Sparkhouse by Richard Armitage Online. John Standring (Richard Armitage) goes to the local police to try to track down in Carol in episode 2 of Sparkhouse. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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The source critique and reliability. Richard Armitage Online doesn’t document every piece of information about Armitage — and it doesn’t always include every novelty immediately — but you know when you find information on the site, it will be accurate. You will also know where it comes from, because the page includes footnotes! (These are particularly valuable for sources that have evaporated from the web in the meantime — if you ever want to track things down in paper copy or other archives, you have a way to do so.) I also particularly like the notes in the “Articles” section that explain how one particular “canned” press interview makes it into the different strands of the UK print and web media. Knowing where a statement comes from and in what context it might have been made initially is essential information for the historian, and this site makes it easy to know that information.

The “Misc” section. What I particularly appreciate here are the documentations not only of pictures from events at which Armitage has appeared or other noteworthy recognition from his career, but the summary statements about them, often collated from press coverage that devotes only a line or two to Armitage and thus doesn’t really merit inclusion in the “Articles” section. I also think it’s just neat that Armitage read in a Christmas “celebration” at St Paul’s in 2007. I love knowing that detail. And obviously not because I’m a Christian. I’d just love to hear him reading from the KJV / AV. Even the begats — the biblical equivalent of the phone book. I wonder what he’d do with Job.

The easily navigable design, transparency, and loadability of the site. A reader can see immediately, from the top of the site, everything that’s available in it. It loads quickly, and it doesn’t include a lot of scripts that play havoc with my browser. This means I always consult it first when I’m trying to recall a detail, because I can tell right away whether it will be archived here and where (or whether I need to go someplace else for my citation). Also, because I frequently write from a slow wireless connection, the fact that it’s so easy to load (and that I know in advance where slower-loading graphics might be hiding) means that it’s an obvious source to consult. Its easiness to load probably makes it a desirable destination for countries plagued by different degress of the digital divide — more and more of whose residents will become aware of Armitage in a few months.

The ongoing charitable emphasis. Need I say more?

[At left: the 2005 source image for the Richard Armitage Online banner. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com]

And as a final note: I think Annette and I may have a similar Armitage aesthetic. She picked all photos I love for her opening slide show, and the image incorporated into her site banner is just perfect for the site, I think: an Armitage who looks curious and investigative and serious, but also cheeky and seductive at the sametime. In short: one image that conveys a lot of what Richard Armitage is for me.

If I ever had a chance to get an interview, I’m sure I’ve just set fire to it in a spectacular manner. Please forgive me, Annette. I do so love your website, though. I just couldn’t keep it in any longer.

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My favorite of the charities Richard Armitage has raised money for on JustGiving is Childline. If you liked this post or appreciate Armitage’s work, please consider making a donation of yourself. Demand for the service in most of the UK is up, and in some places only a portion of calls can be answered. As always, many worthy causes deserve our support, but this week I’m blogging to draw attention to this one. Thanks for listening.

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Continuing your Friday F3 reading: In the Hobbit chain, Mrs. E.B. Darcy projects what our hero may do in TH: There and Back Again (spoilers!) Ana Cris discusses a Maori ceremony Mr. Armitage witnessed in New Zealand’s mountains In King Richard Armitage, fitzg guestposts at judiang‘s on non-Richard III roles for Armitage in a Richard III project In fanfic, Jas Rangoon continues her modern N&S fic, “Maggie & John: A Modern Love Story” Maria Grazia presents an interview with Cat Winchester and giveaway of her book, Northern Light In freeform, fedoralady asks about our dream Armitage-narrated audiobooks At his blog, John Thornton wonders if anyone else could play him Agzy historicizes Heinz Kruger’s sartorial choices — and what’s underneath them! In fandom, jazzbaby1 maps Armitage in the Tommyverse Rose Gisborne paints a rainbow of RichardsLinks to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!

~ by Servetus on March 16, 2012.

44 Responses to “F3, Day Five! One voice to thrill them all, and Armitage to bind them!”

  1. As always, you are bold, bold, bold!! Well you know where I stand in all this. I’ve always been first and foremost your fan. 🙂

    • Yeah, now I am wondering whether I should let her know I did this. I don’t think she reads here 🙂

      Thanks for your admiration; I will try to live up to it 🙂

  2. Well written!!! I also love that page. It was the first site I found. It has allowed me to know about RA from my beginner’s level.

    • Good point — although the information there is detailed and at times complex, it also is an easy entry point for newbies.

  3. Hi Servetus,
    Thanks for this praiseworthy article for RAOnline. Annette’s site was also my introduction to the “World of Richard Armitage”. I especially like the clips of his various works–because before I got DSL or iTunes, viewing clips on RAonline was the only way I could see RA’s work that I couldn’t buy the dvd for in the U.S. yet.

    My N&S copy was lonely for the longest time. Ha! But, but RA collection has grown to Dibley, Impressionists. Spooks, Sparkhouse (the UK version I was so desperate to own it, Ha!), and Robin Hood. I’m hoping to get JP, JM, and RD next. Ha!

    Thanks again to Annette for her wonderful site!
    Cheers! Grati ;->

  4. Annette’s site is the place to visit to see Richard Armitage’s messages to his fans!

    • I decided not to discuss that because my original interview plan had been not to discuss Armitage. But naturally: yes.

  5. Well done. Richard Armitage online is a wealth of information and my go-to site when I want the details. I also love all the article and radio clip archives.

  6. We tend to take sites like RANet a bit for granted. We use it as an excellent source of info and pic, but I’m so happy you highlighted that someone actually has to gather the content and update it regularly! We owe RANet and all the other RA fan sites a huge debt of gratitude! So Thank You!

  7. I’ve also spent a long time exploring that site – it’s wonderful, in fact all three major fansites are wonderful. In fact, if we had just one of them that would be great – to have three is unsurpassed. I can’t thank the ladies who run them enough for their dedication and passion, but I do fear the day they decide they’ve had enough and let things slide. How many fan sites for other actors have you seen with the same woeful message “sorry I haven’t had the time/inclination to make any updates recently”. I’d rather they just announced that the site would no longer be updated or be taken down full stop. Anyway, I really hope that doesn’t happen to the RA sites.

    • I have no opinion on this question — except to note that I think a well-maintained site is easier to find a successor for than one that’s falling apart.

  8. Excellent article! And thanks to Annette for her wonderful site!

  9. RichardArmitageOnline was the first site I visited after deciding to find out more about Richard Armitage. I respect Annette’s professional approach, and I love the site. I found it invaluable when doing my research for FanstRavaganza posts (especially N&S). The archives of interviews and articles are incredible.

    Thanks Annette also from me 🙂

  10. Excellent article. If I was Annette, I would be flattered!! I have to go to her site to take a closer look at it!

  11. Lovely post!

    Imagine Annette scouring the shops for the magazines and papers that had the latest article about RA and the financial investment too!. You can get online versions of many pubs now but that wasn’t always the case. She has a wonderful site!

    A humble, understated Webmistress for a humble, understated actor!

    • particularly the theatre materials. Even as early as 2004 that would ahve been scrounging around.

  12. Oh yes, wonderful work done by wonderful people. It really is a labor of love. Personally, I think RA is one lucky dude.

    • yeah, he really is. People have tried to make cases for the uniqueness of this fandom and I think many of them are overblown. But I think he has really benefited from the caliber of fan he attracted through N&S. Many women with a lot of professional or paraprofessional skills — not just tech stuff, but also good writers and good thinkers and good team players. I wonder if he would have had the same experience if his breakthrough role had been in a different genre of drama.

      • Hmmm…. has HE really benefited from the caliber of fan attracted through N&S or have WE actually been the primary beneficiaries??

        I think I could make a pretty strong case that it’s been the latter group that has benefited above and beyond any benefit that may have been seen by the former (even if it’s just in a comparative Utilitarianism kind of way) 🙂

        • This is a topic of some controversy, and maybe I should blog about my perception of it, but I would say that I can think of at least two important things that fans did for him, and these were related to the caliber of fan he got. That he was able to capitalize on them is owing strictly to him, though. So I wouldn’t say he “owes” fans so much as he was helped out by them in a particular way.

          That his fans have benefited hugely from him stands out of discussion, of course.

          • I would love to hear of these important things that RA’s fans did for him (are you referring to the Rise up Christchurch fundraisers last year)?

            I’ll admit, the webmistress savvy-ness behind the main fansites is probably what made the strongest first impression on me.

            I remembered thinking, ‘Um, who is this actor and how has he managed to attract the caliber of fans capable of maintaining these formidable websites’? 🙂

            • No — whatever happened there wasn’t at the hands of the fans of the first hour. I would put the websites on the list. He had, very quickly, without doing anything himself, extremely accurate, well curated fan sites.

  13. Bravo! One of the best sites on AR without doubt.
    A job caring not only the artist but also to other fans!
    Thanks, Annette.

    • yeah, it really *is* for the fans — which is why I wanted to out myself as an appreciative one.

  14. Annette’s site is so professional. It provides so much information in a factual and researched manner. No problem if she wishes to remain “behind the scenes”. The site speaks for her.

  15. I think that Richard owens her much , and not only her,Servetus. 😉

  16. I’ve often wondered at the amount of work it must take to keep up the fan sites as well as this site and other blogs. Truely a labor of love. Thanks to all of you!!

  17. Thank you very much! It’s lovely to hear that people like the site and find it useful.

    There are several excellent sites about Richard Armitage these days, each with its own style – between them, I think they provide something for everyone.

  18. One thing I greatly admire RAOnline for is the fact that Annette has managed to sidestep one of the biggest trap for a ‘fanpage’ = expressing her own opinion. Especially when a site is connected with to a forum, and especially when a prickly situation arises, like, well you know, who are they dating. Oy vey.

    Not that she doesn’t have an opinion, I mean she did start the site ;), but I find she tries to present every info as is, like a nicely packaged and very well informed conduit of RA facts. 😀

    So yes, absolutely, my compliments to RAOnline.

    • I think you can tell, to some extent, what she’s thinking; however, you’re right that it’s not obvious and never overwhelming. This is really a hard issue to negotiate, particularly because no matter what you say or don’t say people will attribute opinions to you.

  19. […] the insinuation of North and South into her classroom, illusions of Richard III, the assessment of RichardArmitageOnline as a great site, the discussion of Guy’s durability, and the two interviews with […]

  20. […] a definitive overview of the stations of Armitage’s career; Richard Armitage Online already provided one I admired greatly. My purpose was solely to write about Armitage from my […]

  21. […] provided me with elementary, secondary, post-secondary, and graduate coursework in Armitage Studies I tried to write about why this site is so great here. If you have loved this site as much as I have, please go to her contact form and let her now. C19 […]

  22. […] Armitage Online was my introduction to the fandom and my most important resource. I wrote about it here. Best wishes to […]

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