The cup of tea that launched a message board crash #richardarmitage
And well more than a thousand crushes.
Thinking about National Tea Day (yeah, another one of those made up holidays social media loves) reminded me first and foremost of the wonderful “tea scene” in episode 1 of North & South. This episode was aired for the first time on November 19, 2004, and the BBC message board crashed within hours, due to viewer excitement about Richard Armitage. I suspect of a lot of it must have come down to this scene. Back when I used to post a lot of interviews with fellow fans, one of my questions was always, “what is your favorite scene?” and after a while I had to specify “other than the tea scene in North & South.”
Richard Armitage confessed in the course of the Hobbit interviews that he himself was a coffee drinker. And I don’t think it was the tea that sold people on the scene, either — for me, it was the look(s) on his face, just as he’s about to get the tea.
Armitage is a master of status games and interactions. What’s so compelling about this moment is the differentiated status and the competing axes power between him and Margaret — class, gender, hostess / guest, attracted / pursued — and the way that he lets us see him process all that potential jostling conflict just briefly, but then returns to an inward moment that he also lets us see. Masterful.