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Period drama hotties coming in 2022

Ladies, loosen that corset lest you faint dead away! Here's a sneak peak at the upcoming period drama men getting us hot under the collar in 2022, plus 11 more historical hotties to drool over.

Who watches period drama to learn about life in the Tudors? Or the hardships of the Victorians? Let’s get real here. Why else would it be all about open-neck linen shirts in the rain and topless scything in the heat? Embracing our shameless selves, here’s the water cooler convo we’ve been having all year… who is the most attractive man in period drama? 

COMING IN 2022

Harry Richardson in The Gilded Age

Ooh, we’re excited for this one! Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) is bringing us an all-new period drama series, set in the Gilded Age of New York (that’s roughly 1870-1900, if you slept through History GCSE). Coming 25 Jan on HBO, The Gilded Age follows the clash of old and new money, and features the rather charming face of Harry Richardson, who from the trailerlooks all set to be the love interest of the fresh-faced Marian. Having previously appeared in Poldark (pictured), we have high hopes for Richardson as a dashing romantic hero…

Tom Cullen in Becoming Elizabeth

Alicia von Rittberg and Tom Cullen

Hello, morally grey but fictionally sexy hunk! Tom Cullen is playing Thomas Seymour in this new Starz series about a young Elizabeth I, for which you can see a teaser here. It’s hard to tell whether the show is going to paint Thomas Seymour as sleazy or attractive — historians disagree on Elizabeth’s feelings towards him — but Tom Cullen’s certainly easy on the eye. 

Jack O’Connell in SAS: Rogue Heroes

Alfie Allen, Connor Swindells, Jack O’Connell

Sure, not the sexiest promo pic they could have chosen (seriously — not a good facial expression in the lot), but this upcoming BBC six-parter about the world’s most renowned and ruthless WW2 Special Forces unit is promising some serious sex appeal. Our eye’s on Jack O’Connell (This is England; Skins), but with Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight manning the helm, you can expect plenty of grit across the board. Also, the darned delicious Dominic West…

ALL-TIME SEXIEST

Regé-Jean Page as the Duke Simon Bassett 

Unless you were living under a rock last January, chances are you’ve done your share of drooling over Regé-Jean Page as the Duke Simon Bassett in Bridgerton. Anyone else still fantasising about the unfathomed sensual thrill of having a smartly-dressed Duke skim his hands over your waist, and softly instruct you to stand closer to him? (Go on: give the first dance another watch.) 

Johnny Flynn as Mr Knightley

You’d be excused for being put-off by the sideburns, but there is something alluring about Mr. Knightley in the 2020 adaptation of Emma all the same. Maybe it’s the gratuitous scene at the start of the film of him getting dressed, bum akimbo? Probably it’s the disarmingly believable way he seems to love Emma (played by The Queen’s Gambit‘s Anya Taylor Joy, demonstrating check mate), and the surprisingly charged way he dances with her. Only period dramas can have us so worked up simply from hands touching hands. 

Timothée Chalamet as Laurie

Lingering childhood crush, anyone? Might we suggest that the devastation that naturally comes from Jo refusing to marry Laurie can be eased by imagining that you are the one to pick up the pieces of his heart… And we have to thank Greta Gerwig for allowing her 2019 adaptation of Little Women to better explore the romance between Laurie and Amy. When he helps her out of her painting apron, purely so she can look her best for another man? Torturous. 

Theo James as Sidney Parker

Justice for ITV’s Sanditon, the 2019 imagining of Austen’s unfinished novel. Free to take the reins, the writers went absolutely wild with sexual tension. We’re talking: knocking 1995 P&P out of the water by having the heroine Charlotte Heywood chance upon the brooding Sidney Parker as he swims fully naked (and very buff) in the ocean. Theo James may not be returning for the second series, but those eight episodes still pack a highly sexy punch. And Sidney Parker, growing kind through his love for Charlotte? Touching her waist to check her form as he teaches her to row a boat? I’ll take seven, thanks. 

Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak 

The 2015 adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd was visually stunning, seemingly filmed perpetually during golden hour. And the main man? Woof. He’s quiet but skilled. Good with his hands. He loves her faithfully and without pressure. He’s very easy on the eyes. Where can we find a Gabriel Oak? 

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark

What did we learn from BBC’s Poldark? That scything fields is really, really sexy, and must be done shirtless. The precise angle of Aidan Turner’s strong eyebrows. Um. Other things. 

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

There really is something about white shirts. Add in the charming Scottish accent, the rough but tender hands, and the reliable rescuing, and you get the irresistible Jamie from Starz’s time-travel romance Outlander. Is it weird that the constant threat of danger is so undeniably sexy? Maybe a little. We don’t need to be rescued by a man, of course. But then also: maybe we would if we, too, were unexpectedly transported back to the 18th century Scottish Highlands. 

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII

Yes, logically we wouldn’t want to get romantically involved with Henry VIII. It’s a potential nightmare. We value our necks. But no one’s told our bodies that…

Matthew Macfayden as Mr Darcy 

The 2005 Pride and Prejudice gave us an excellent outline of the ideal man. He’s moody and aloof, but he’s drawn to you specifically. You dance with him and even though the conversation is stilted, the unspoken attraction is enough that the rest of the room seems to fade away as you stare angrily into each other’s eyes. He is so affected by touching you that he has to flex his hand after helping you into a carriage. Later, he strides towards you through dawn mist with (again!) a loose white shirt, and tells you he loves you. Heavens. 

Richard Armitage as John Thornton 

There really is a lot of brooding in period dramas, isn’t there? We’re not mad about it. BBC’s 2004 adaptation of North and South certainly had a lot of it, with John Thornton darkly yearning for Margaret Hale through dramatic scenes of spiralling cotton particles. Not sure why that’s so sexy, but it is. Perhaps it’s the knowledge of his secret heart of gold, soon to be brought to light. Then there’s that ending scene where they meet at the train station, and entwine hands as they realise their feelings are mutual, where he gently cradles her face like he can’t believe his luck… Sorry, were we saying something? 

Colin Firth as Mr Darcy

It has to include Colin, doesn’t it? Although the famous lake scene from BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice doesn’t quite stand up to more modern explorations of the female gaze, you can’t deny it was an absolute breakthrough moment. The delicious shock of Mr. Darcy removing his tight cravat and plunging into water, clothed in a loose white shirt, was enough to single-handedly propel Colin Firth to heart-throb stardom. Combine the dripping Mr. Darcy with the flustered Elizabeth (who doesn’t quite know where to look), and the wonderful awkwardness of him inquiring after her parents, and you have a winner. 

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