Phwoar And Peace

Monday 11 January 2016

James Norton’s appearance as Prince Andrei in the BBC’s new adaptation of War And Peace has provoked a torrent of lustful remarks from the fair sex on Twitter.

Online ladies have christened the series Phwoar And Peace, entirely in honour of the 30-year-old actor’s chiselled cheekbones and jawline. And the object of all this sighing and longing has not even taken off so much as his jacket yet.

Colin Firth got his shirt wet as Mr Darcy in Pride And Prejudice, Aidan Turner scythed his way through Cornwall shirtless in Poldark and obligingly appeared naked but for a towel slung around his waist in the Agatha Christie Christmas thriller And Then There Were None.

All three glimpses of naked hunkiness caused heavy breathing among the nation’s womenfolk. Fair enough.

But lusting after a fully-clothed actor such as Norton because of his jawline seems a little excessive. So are women becoming much more vocal in their appreciation of male beauty?

Are they in fact reacting to men exactly as do wolf-whistling builders to attractive young women? And if so is the gentler sex morphing into the vulgar, brutish louts we so often love to criticise? The answer is no. Women have always loved manly hunks.

Female hearts fluttered madly at the sight of Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood.

We have long worshipped a film star who looks strong enough to hold us in his arms while fighting off hordes of baddies to protect us.

Preferably bare-chested. My mum used to swoon at Rudolph Valentino in a sheikh’s costume.

Come to think of it we all got pretty worked up at Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif looking insanely butch and glamorous in their robes in Lawrence Of Arabia. What has changed is the internet. Before Twitter and other social media, women did their swooning in small groups over a bottle of wine.

They still do but now cannot resist sharing their lust with a wider audience. Anyone who thinks women have changed has never witnessed a hen party at a Chippendales’ performance.

I have – we staged one especially for This Morning in the 1990s – and believe me you need nerves of steel, not to mention a strong stomach, to survive a show like that. The things those women yelled at the semi-naked Chips when they’d had a few would make a sailor blush.

The difference between male and female sexuality is that the attention of women is never threatening.

James Norton and Aidan Turner may feel embarrassed by their status as sex symbols but the ladies mean them no harm.

It is all a bit of fun and hen party teasing. And long may it last.

Read more in Richard and Judy's column for the Daily Express here.
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