Back around Valentine’s Day I was feeling mushy-gushy, and so put together a list of Five British TV Couples I Love to Love. Evidently the onset of spring (sort of–our weather in the American Midwest hasn’t quite yet received the memo that it’s time for warmer weather) has me feeling all mushy-gushy again, so here we go: Five More British TV Couples I Love to Love!
5. Archie and Lexie (Monarch of the Glen)
Okay, I know this one is going to be controversial. Monarch of the Glen*, set on an estate in Scotland and featuring the misadventures of the aging laird (Hector MacDonald), the sometimes-painful “save the estate” schemes of Archie the to-be laird (Alastair Mackenzie), and a supporting cast of characters who are supposed to be the household help but act more like family, originally began with trying to set Archie up romantically with Katrina Finlay, an old schoolfellow of his, and current politically minded local (who is not impressed by Archie). Eventually, however, the cook/housekeeper Lexie McTavish (Dawn Steele) proved more adept at keeping up with Archie’s mercurial turns. I don’t know that I really do wish Archie on Lexie; he’s kind of a moody bitch and I just love Lexie’s sassy attitude (and wardrobe!)–but still–they’re cute together. I’m helpless before a really cute couple. Also? Lexie’s a brunette and I always, ALWAYS cheer for the brunette.
4. Demelza and Poldark (Poldark)
I’m actually not a big fan of the latest remake of Poldark, but that’s only because the books by Winston Graham were SO AWESOME. The basic story is: Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) returns to his family’s estate in Cornwall after fighting on the losing British side in the American Revolution. Sadly, he returns to find his true love marrying his cousin and his dead father’s estate crumbling to ruins and being squatted in by his father’s drunken servants. Nice welcome back party. But Ross is determined to stay and make a go of it, and so he does: generally wowing everyone around him with his brains his chutzpah, his extreme dislike for the newly wealthy and unprincipled Warleggan family, and his general all-around Poldarkiness. He also finds new love when he takes in a young girl, Demelza, as additional domestic help.
But could I just note? Demelza is also supposed to be a brunette. (See above: I always cheer for the brunette.) I should get over it, I know, and red-haired Eleanor Tomlinson’s doing a nice job with the role, but still. Poldark’s another hero that I don’t know that I wish on our heroine–he’s sometimes a bit too, well, Poldarky, and would it kill him to laugh once in a while?–but Demelza seems to like him, so I’m pulling for them.
3. Jean and Lionel (As Time Goes By)
One of my earliest forays into British television was through the great series As Time Goes By, as it has now been running on my local PBS station on Saturday nights for at least the last fifteen years. And there’s a reason they just keep showing it: it’s so good. It tells the story of Jean Parjeter (Judi Dench) and Lionel Hardcastle (Geoffrey Palmer), who were young lovers during the Korean War, until Lionel was posted overseas, letters went astray, and they lost touch. Forty years later they find each other in London once again: Lionel having been through a stint coffee-farming in Kenya and a divorce, and Jean a widow with an adult daughter who works with her in the temp/secretarial agency Jean founded. Judi Dench as Jean is just so awesome: cuddly and yet beautiful, often quick to take offense at Lionel’s bumbling attempts to re-start their romance, even though he thinks everything is just a little “too late,” but still fierce in her love for him. A true classic. I know everyone else has moved on to Last Tango in Halifax, but this show (and this couple) remain my benchmarks for “love later in life.”
2. Fiona Gallagher and Steve McBride (Shameless)
Okay, I could take or leave the show Shameless, because urban poverty really just scares the shit out of me. Although it did have its moments, and you had to love all the Gallagher kids loving and looking out for one another (not always in overt ways) because their Dad couldn’t be bothered. But the love story between Fiona and Steve? Complete with Steve’s confession that he fell in love with Fiona while she was dancing, because she wasn’t dancing for anyone besides herself? As Veronica says, delightfully, in this clip, “Top-fucking-notch!” And: total bonus points for this series being where Ann-Marie Duff and James McAvoy first met one another, started an off-screen romance, and eventually married.
1. Miranda and Gary (Miranda)
Oh, I do so love Miranda Hart. I dream of meeting her in person and just looking up and up and trying to talk to her across our height divide. Her series Miranda is delightful. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing that’s subverting any genre tropes, but just a nice comedy series about a very tall and hilarious woman, the handsome and immensely likable chef that she has a crush on (Tom Ellis), and a strong cast of friends, co-workers, and parents. Will Miranda and Gary ever successfully stop mucking about as merely friends and find their happily ever after? You’re just going to have to watch and find out.