Diary of an RA Fan — Part 14 Mr. Embouchure and the Black Hole

See Diary Part 13 here, or to access all entries, hit “The Diary” tab above.

Entry — a couple of years ago (2008) minus a few months:

I’m now the proud owner of a multi-region DVD player. $89 and a little shipping, and it’s sitting in the entertainment cabinet. And why? Because I wanted to watch something else with Richard Armitage and it wouldn’t play on a Region 1 DVD player. I tried to get it some other way, but noooo, it wasn’t available. Did that stop me? Certainly not. I got so excited I ordered it before I left mom’s house and it beat me home. Not a good move as it only created a lot of curiosity in the house. We already have a DVD player. Why didn’t I just hack the damn thing? So that makes a grand total of at least 300 bucks I’ve spent on Richard Armitage, and no one’s ever heard of him! Well, a few people on YouTube and IMDb and yeah, some people in England.

That night:

SO and the little SOs are gone for the evening. I’m so past them watching anything with Richard Armitage. I could care less if they watch him, but I’m ready to watch “Sparkhouse.” Part of me cannot believe I’m doing this. I really did hate Wuthering Heights. Plus, SO made a joke about me watching. Of course it’s a joke. Everything’s a joke, and I always laugh. I can’t help it. He’s funny. Then there’s his obsession with changing up names. So Richard Armitage got a new one. The day SO says Richard Armitage’s name correctly will be the day I probably need to quit watching his stuff. But for now SO made another crack as he was going out the door, “I hope you and Mr. Embouchure have a good time.” Oh we will. I think. Not sure. But with $89+shipping and $30+shipping for the video, it better be worth it. That makes over a 100 bucks to watch the guy in one movie. No matter how much I like Mr. Embouchure, that’s an expensive night at the movies. I salve my conscience with the fact I’ve rarely bought anything for myself — at least in the last several years.

A few hours later:

WHO is this guy?! Ewan MacGregor has a chameleon quality, and yeah, Russell Crowe can change himself quite a bit. But sometimes I can’t forget who they are. I didn’t even recognize Richard Armitage as the same actor. I knew going into this he was going to be different. I kept hearing on IMDb that this character looked almost nothing like him. But I still wasn’t prepared. I saw John Standring, and there was no thought of anyone else even after his transformation. Armitage becomes his characters more than any actor I’ve ever seen. Can I really make that grandiose statement about some obscure actor from England? But John Thornton was a force to be reckoned with. After watching him, I didn’t think Richard Armitage could be someone else so completely. Then he was Harry, and John Thornton was not even a thought in my head while I was watching him. Of course there was Guy, who was also a force and brooded so beautifully, but it wasn’t John Thornton’s brooding, and now another John, who really is another John and not just John Thornton with shaggy hair and dowdy clothes. Even after his haircut and change of clothes, the man, John Standring was still there only better looking. Wow. Why is this guy almost completely unknown? Is there that much of a barrier between here and England?

I wish SO would watch something more than Vicar of Dibley. That didn’t have nearly enough Richard Armitage to show his abilities. SO loves characters and stories so much he would love the acting this guy does. But he’s consigned Richard Armitage to nothing more than a Brad Pitt type of fascination for me. He’s so wrong. Brad Pitt never made me feel I’d been sucked into a black hole. Daniel Day-Lewis came close playing Gerry Conlon, but nothing like this.

John Standring has made this more than just a passing phase.

See Diary Part 15 here.

Screencaps courtesy of my stash.


  1. I’ve said this several times before, but I need to say it again as it fits what your post so well. I saw Richard in VoD, a few episodes of RH1, Malice Aforethought, Miss Marple and George Gently without twigging it was the same actor. It was only after seeing him in North and South that I googled him and connected the dots. Either I’m extremely slow (it has been known!) or he really enters into each character and becomes a new person in a quite extraordinary way.

    John Standring is such a sweetheart, a truly good person, but not personable with his dreadful clothes and awkwardness. He is slowly transformed throughout the series so that from being a painfully shy man with a pronounced stoop, he straightens up and can claim Carol as his and offer her more than just the farm.

    Kudos to Richard for being willing to stretch his acting muscles and give us such different characters!

  2. Oh I totally loved him in Sparkhouse! I love his character of John Standring! Have you seen my post about it? Of course it’s about more than Sparkhouse though ’cause with me, everything’s about everything else! LOL
    Totally agree with everything you’ve said here.

  3. John Standring is a favourite character too. I watched Sparkhouse because of him, since I pressed play I waiting for the moment he would appear and was surprised at his ‘transformation’, it didn’t took me much to see only John Standring and forget it was Richard.
    John is so painfully shy at the beginning, I want to protect him. Then he evolves into the strong, reliable man is fascinating.
    Love the scene when he accepts buying the farm and Carol throws herlsef at him, his laughter puts a wide smile in my face.
    I like that Carol is always honest with him (I know, except about the company&car) , is the least he deserves.

    OML :)

  4. Ditto, ditto, & ditto! I’ve watched Sparkhouse on YouTube. Someone was kind enough to post it in it’s entirety. I, too, fell in love with this character, John Standring, for all the reasons previously mentioned. There are only a few actors who can make me totally forget who they are when playing a character. Richard Armitage accomplishes this in everything I’ve seen him in. He is a huge talent, and although he deserves fame and only the good things that come with it, I don’t want him to accept parts that aren’t worthy of his talent. Case in point is James McAvoy. I was disappointed when he accepted a leading role in ‘Wanted’, hyped as a blockbuster, along side Angelina Jolee. I want to see these exceptional actors in only good roles, but at the same time, I know that these are not easy to come by and they need to make a living. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want Richard Armitage to ‘sell out’ to Hollywood. In a recent interview he mentioned ‘sniffing about’ in LA before the end of the year. I rather have him ‘sniff about’ in NYC if he’s determined to check out what’s available in the US. I think he’d have a better chance of finding quality work there. (That might be my biased opinion though…I grew up just outside NYC.) The bottom line is that a phenomenal actor, such as Richard Armitage, deserves only the best parts to show off his outstanding talent. This is just one girl’s opinion:)

  5. @eileen, I’m with you on accepting only good roles. But, Mr. A can make any role. (Robin Hood, for example). That said, would hate to see him in a mediocre production. Waste of talent, and all those years of “honing his craft”.

    But yes, we all have to eat.

    And I’d back NYC over LA any day…

  6. @fitzg, Good point! He definitely can make, even the most mediocre role, great.

  7. This was a serious addiction index point for me, too. It happened after I started blogging so I think I blogged about it. I had resisted getting a region free player for at least five years, and I’m someone who actually had professional justification for having one, with all of the German films I’ve used in the classroom and written about and then just plain loved. Constitutionally, I’m a late adopter, though, and because I move so much and electronics get disrupted so easily in moves I am not a big electronics consumer. When I pushed the yellow button on the amazon order I thought to myself, “this is it, you have really lost it now.”

    And I made the decision because of Sparkhouse. I’d seen it on youtube but I wanted to watch it from my sofa, not from 14 inches away. I’ve been a little concerned about how the experience of watching these films as if the actors heads were in the same dimension as mine is affecting my reading of visual media.

  8. Oh, and like you, hated, hated, hated Wuthering Heights. Thought recently that it was due to being compulsory reading in high school so reread in February. Felt exactly the same way about it now as I did then.

  9. Add me to the list of the people who hated Wuthering Heights. I read it as an adult as well. Hated Heathcliff. Hated Cathy. Dysfunctional people running utterly amok with their emotions. Ugh.

  10. Well, those are pretty much my sentiments about it, but I dare not say how many years it’s been since I read it. Uh, a long time ago. LOL!

    I could feel myself being manipulated as I read it, which would be fine except there was nothing satisfying about it. Sparkhouse is also unsatisfying. Very frustrating. I felt myself wanting to drop kick some people just as I felt years ago when reading Wuthering Heights.

    Now the other sister hit a homer (pardon the analogy; it’s baseball season. what can I say?). I cried when I read Jane Eyre. I need to get around to reading Tenant of Wildfell Hall so my Bronte education is more complete. Oh, and I’ve wanted to read Villette.

  11. “Wanting to drop kick some people”…funny, that exactly how I felt.

  12. @phylly3,

    I read your blog posts with a “Sparkhouse” tag. I think I already commented somewhere on your haikus. ;-) And as for the other post, LOVED the comparison of Andrew and John. You are so right! :D

  13. I could never get into Wuthering Heights either! Too dark for me. Sparkhouse would have been the same except that Mr. Armitage’s character of John Standring, seemed to elevate the whole production into something more positive. I could believe that Carol could find happiness with John even after her tragic loss.
    @RAFrenzy — thanks for your kind comments about my Sparkhouse post. Glad that you have visited my blog. (I do wish you would comment there sometime) :)

  14. I have commented. I just need to do it as RAFrenzy. LOL!

  15. Hmmm! Curious and curiouser!

  16. Is it wrong to want to make a t-shirt that says “I heart Sparkhouse”?

  17. […] as she not only conceded having spent hundreds of dollars on his work, but also having purchased a region-free DVD player and to top it all off, the absolute corker: a Guy of Gisborne action figure that she can now no […]

  18. […] hair”. This richness and distinction between characters is what makes me such a rabid fan. From almost the beginning, I was stunned at this ability. And then there is Richard Armitage himself, who has managed to make […]

  19. […] one of his greatest assets. After his voice, it is my second most loved aspect of him and watching Sparkhouse for the first time and seeing how differently he played John Standring from John Thornton, Harry […]

  20. Dear Ms. Frenzy:
    Having become a N&S and RA fan only a few months ago, I’ve since turned into a rabid Googler who has spent hours online feeding the obsession. I’ve bumped up against your postings many times and have roared at your sense of humor, flip comments, dead-on interpretations, etc. SO many things I agree with you on: hate Wuthering Heights, too, and I also know how to punctuate correctly — in both British-style and American-style English. Just tonight I found this diary and am stunned. You started out with serious writing? Me, too. Meaning, that’s all I’ve done so far. Does this mean there’s a blog in my future? Hating the echo chamber of blog world, months ago, channeling my inner Thorton in front of the strikers, I would have said: Never! But my Armitage experience has taught me to stop saying “never.” RA and Elizabeth Gaskell have tapped an inner zeitgeist which is unleashing amazing creativity from all of us. I’ve caved on other issues, including punctuation. (!!!) Please see my intro post on C19 titled “Imagine you have never heard of North & South,” (user name armitagebesotted) and let’s talk! In the meantime, I will keep reading to the end of your diary….

  21. […] I say I always knew you had it in you. Or at least after I watched John Standring. I suspected before Standring. John Thornton was breathtaking, but I chalked that up to being […]

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