Smitten by British Actors

The following is a guest post.

Recently announced their picks for the all-time hunks of PBS.  Though Brit-heavy as it should be, the list was flawed.  As my colleague Melissa pointed out they lost credibility with her when they placed Bill Nye the Science Guy ahead of Kenneth Branagh.

And in case you’re wondering, Laurence Fox of Inspector Lewis fame came in as #1 hunk.

Then earlier this week, the BBC America blog, Anglophenia, launched their third annual Anglo Fan Favorites Tournament: The Men of 2013.  It’s a pleasant diversion that pits two different British male celebrities who often have something in common against one another. They start with seventeen matchups and through on-line voting candidates are eliminated down to a final pair.

Sometimes I find the choice easy .  For example, Matt Smith vs Kit Harington.  Who? Sorry, I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

Other times it’s much more difficult to cast one fellow aside for the other.  The worst was when I had to flip a coin and chose James Corden over Martin Freeman…

Of course I’m glad to see all this attention directed towards British talent and handsomeness.  People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue usually leaves me scratching my head and Brad Pitt has never been on been on my hunk radar.

Or perhaps it’s just that I lack hunk radar altogether. I prefer less muscle, more brains; less swagger, more sensitivity; less of an action hero and more of a self-deprecating sweetheart.

Everyone has their own tastes and I like to think that mine are a bit eclectic.  The list I have compiled below features British actors with variety of styles and talents and they hail from all corners of the UK .

A word of warning -you will not find the very popular Mr. Cumberbatch here. While I enjoy his work a great deal, I’m just not a Cumberbunny, I’m afraid.

So without further ado, I present my short list of the British actors with which I have been smitten – in no particular order:
James Nesbitt

My favorite Northern Irishman, Nesbitt has been on the acting scene since the mid-eighties. I first saw him as lovesick Pig Finn in Waking Ned Devine, but it was his leading role in Cold Feet as the mischievously charming Adam Williams that made him a star in the UK.  Most recently he’s spent a lot of time cavorting in New Zealand where he played Bofur, a very endearing and optimistic dwarf in that little film called The Hobbit.

No matter the role, Nesbitt’s devilish smile and self-deprecating charm shine through.  And yes, he has some new hair now which I believe was quite a smart career move.


Finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention his lovely voice…

James McAvoy

James first caught my attention in The Last King of Scotland.  Sure, Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for impersonating Idi Amin, but I was more intrigued by this young Scottish actor.

Next I watched Starter for 10 and became a McAvoy fan for life. From Jane Austen’s true love to Tolstoy’s idealistic secretary, James has the ability to steal your heart and break it within the space of 90 minutes.

He’s made some choices towards the action genre lately that don’t particularly thrill me, but blockbusters do pay the bills so even if I just wait for the DVD, I do watch them all.

And this James can cook and croon a bit as well…

Chris O’Dowd

You may remember I wrote at length about Chris O’Dowd awhile back.  This Irishman made a name for himself in some circles with his role as tech support geek Roy in The IT Crowd.  And he’s on fire now.  Pirate Radio, Bridesmaids, Girls, Moone Boy, Family Tree…just see my earlier post for the details.

What makes Chris so attractive?  He’s a tall, gangly and nice-looking in an ordinary guy way. More to the point he’s funny on-screen and very clever on Twitter (@BigBoyler) yet doesn’t seem to think he’s a very big deal – as this musical interlude with Rob Brydon will demonstrate.

Tom Ellis

Welsh-born Tom Ellis is admittedly the eye candy of this lot. He always has just the right amount of stubble and I like me a man with dark curly hair and a boyish grin.

But apart from that, even if you don’t know his name, he’s done a load of telly work so that handsome face should look familiar.  He played a doctor on EastEnders and a sexy PA on Monday Monday.  He helped Martha Jones save the world and plotted the takeover of Camelot in Merlin.

Of course, Tom Ellis is best known for his role as Gary Preston, Miranda’s romantic interest extraordinaire.  We all love Gary because he looks like he does, but he’s actually a big fun-loving dork just like Miranda.

There are many musical bits throughout the Miranda series, but they’ve mostly been cut into fanvids and compilations on YouTube.  However, I did find this clip of Gary and Miranda dancing the tango…

Noel Fielding

Okay, I know. One of these things is not like the others but I’ve come to accept that Noel appeals to that bizarre side of myself that I keep hidden.

First off, I love his very English name. I also admire his artsy East London vibe and fearless ambiguity.  He dressed as Kate Bush and recreated her Wuthering Heights music video for Comic Relief after all.

And he has very lovely blue eyes that are always well accentuated with eyeliner.

When my son first introduced me to The Mighty Boosh I didn’t know quite what to think, but since then I’ve seen Mr. Fielding as a banished Goth business executive on The IT Crowd and he’s been serving as a long-term captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.  Cue the music please…


Please share your short list.  Who are your favorite British actors/celebrities to watch or just look at? And be honest, I know you’ve got your own Noel Fielding too!

Carmen is an American wife and mother of two college students who live away from home. With her yellow lab Malcolm by her side, she watches and writes about British television for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK I Learned from the BBC. Read more of Carmen’s posts here.


  1. Melissa says

    Carmen, I like your list. Pretty ballsy to put Noel Fielding on it but I adore him. He’s funny, with a sweet disposition and I love his style – sort of glam rock. I dig the jet black hair and his piercing blue eyes. My only complaint is he could stand to spend a little cash, take a cue from Russell Brand and have his teeth whitened, only slightly, don’t need them to glow in the dark or anything. I mean, I love my tea as well, but c’mon…

    My top picks on this list are Tom Ellis, James McAvoy and my Noel Fielding is Noel Fielding, well, and Russell Brand. 😉

    By the way, brace yourself for all the “Where’s Colin Firth?” comments.

  2. Melissa says

    Oh, sorry I forgot to gush over Martin Freeman. He is so adorable, in a Hobbit sort of way. 😉 Seriously though, his self-deprecating humour is so sexy and he has such a sweet face. I wouldn’t call him a hunk but he is certainly date-able and good marriage material. As much as I try to resist it I can’t help but have a wee crush on him.

  3. says

    No, Angie. I have several friends who are Armitage fans but they’ve never been able to convince me of his swoon-worthiness though I’m sure he’s a lovely guy. Part of it is that I don’t tend to watch the stuff he’s in – I know he’s an important dwarf and he married the Vicar of Dibley.

    This list reflects my own particular tastes and viewing experiences. I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me 100% and there are a lot more actors I would include if time and space allowed.

    I’m most interested in hearing about who you all would place on your own smitten list.

  4. says

    I have adored Martin Freeman since the days of Tim Canterbury and I’ve always kept an eye out for all his projects. I’m so happy for his success with Sherlock and The Hobbit!

  5. Lauri says

    Carmen, my list would also have Chris O’Dowd, Tom Ellis, and Noel Fielding for all the reasons you mentioned. Then I would add David Tennant (the hair and the accent), Andrew Lincoln (Simon is one hot teacher!), Martin Freeman (just adorable in everything he does) and Anthony Head (he can sing). But the one I find embarrassing to admit is Alan Davies. It’s definitely not his Jonathan Creek hair, and I don’t think it’s the slight lisp (reminds me a bit of Jamie Oliver). Alan just seems funny and sweet and therefore strangely attractive. Oh, and I might as well put Jamie Oliver on the list too (men who cook are sexy!)

  6. Lisa says

    My votes goes to Lee Ingleby. He can currently be seen as Det. Sgt. John Bacchus in “Inspector George Gently.” Although he has had some nerdy roles with bad teeth (Gustave in “Ever After” with Drew Barrymore and Stan Shunpike in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”), he was brilliant in “Nature Boy” and “The Street: Sean and Yvonne.” He is co-starring in “Communion” which premiered on August 1st in London, but he needs more starring roles. He is so watchable. I can’t take my eyes off of any scene he is in. Although he is not your typical hunk (who on this list is?!), he is hot hot hot. I am smitten with that Brit!

  7. juliane says

    Well, at the top of my list is Benedict Cumberbatch, followed closely by David Tennant. Richard Hammond is on my list as well(he’s not gorgeous, but I love him all the same).

  8. says


    David Tennant was nudged off my list only because I was trying to narrow down to one per region (Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and Northern Ireland) and I had already claimed James McAvoy for the Scottish slot.

    Here’s a clip that I think encapsulates the essence of David Tennant.

    And don’t you dare be embarrassed about Alan Davies! He’s adorable and very funny.

  9. says

    This is what I’m talking about! There are a range of wonderful British actors out there to suit the tastes of every fan girl. Lee Ingleby is an excellent actor and captivating to watch. He has that quintessential English look and he plays a baddie so well because on the surface he looks harmless (The Street, Life on Mars, Luther).

    That’s the reason I don’t think he’d make my list. He’s so convincing in those menacing roles, I don’t think I could trust him;)

  10. says


    Glad to hear from the Cumberbatch contingent. I can tell you have a taste for the enigmatic:)

    As for Top Gear presenters, the Hamster is adorable and he has such a lovely voice. My favorite Top Gear guy is James May. Go figure!

  11. Penny says

    How could one ever limit their list or choose from among all the UK has to offer?? I, for one, am still smitten by the smooth, rich, voice of Sean Connery!
    And there’s the adorable wit and wisdom of Michael Caine. David Tennant, Gerard Butler, Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Armitage, James McAvoy, Matt Smith with his adorable bow tie, Richard Hammond with hhis boyish charm, Jude Law, Matthew McFayden, my personal favorite Darcy, Tom Hiddleston, etc. My head is about to explode thinking about all the possibilities, lol!

  12. Neslee says

    I completely agree with you. I listed my actor crushes one time and all of them are Brits! I find brains and humor far more attractive than muscles, engineered good looks and straight white teeth.

  13. Roger Summers says

    i would like to add Clive owen. I haven’t seen him in a while but he has craggy good looks and that cleft chin. I heard he was offered the Bond role and turned it down because it would take him away from his family. Now that’s a man who appeal;s to me. Dale

  14. Stephanie says

    You are a woman after my own heart! I would also like to throw Alan Rickman in the mix as well. I have loved him since Die Hard and Robin Hood. He is fantastic in everything he does.

  15. says

    I really enjoyed the list! Noel Fielding is at the top of my list and I was happy to see that he’s on yours as well. I was first introduced to him on the IT Crowd and then fell in love with the man on the ‘Old Gregg’ episode of the Mighty Boosh. Chris O’Dowd is another favourite of mine along with Gerard Butler.