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So, Mr Love God, how would you describe your own romantic history? What, he asks me helplessly, is he supposed to do when a woman sends him a snap of herself in a bikini with a phone number? After the final scene of Spooks is in the can, he's off to South Africa to film Strike Back, a six-part SAS drama for Sky, in which he will play a traumatised soldier returning from Iraq.His lanky build made a career as the next Gene Kelly unlikely. He attracted the praise of choreographer Gillian Lynne when he understudied a couple of big roles in Cats.When he was in the chorus of 42nd Street, he was so much taller than the other dancers that he had to stand right at the back and wear a specially shortened top hat.Some of the vanity of his profession makes him wince. It's like you become someone else, like stepping into another universe.' It's an odd complaint coming from an actor, whose job is pretending.For example, he has a horror of walking down the red carpet. But then Armitage has pretty ambivalent feelings about acting.It was after playing a piece of seaweed in a Sarah Brightman video that he wisely decided he was 'in the wrong lane'. It is at this point that he casually drops into the conversation that his best dance was the Argentinian Tango. The thought of Richard Armitage doing the tango is too much to bear.
He excelled at the cello and played in the Leicestershire youth orchestra before winning a local authority grant to a school in Coventry that specialised in musical theatre.Pleeeaase.' 'You must be joking,' he says, that soothing baritone rising a few notes in protest.But you'd be perfect on Strictly Come Dancing, I insist.'For me, his voice is like Bournville chocolate', sighed one correspondent. One lady confessed she had got a dog just so she could exercise it in the park where she thought she had spotted Richard Armitage jogging. And there was me thinking he was mine, and mine alone. Last Valentine's Day, Richard Armitage beat international stars such as Johnny Depp and Daniel Craig to become the winner of the Romantic Novelists' Sexiest Thing on Two Legs award. With his chiselled profile, manly intensity and velvety Northern baritone, the man is a god. It was back in November 2004, that a relatively unknown 34-year-old from Leicester appeared on our screens as the tall, dark and thrillingly proud Victorian mill-owner John Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell's North And South. 'No, it's just quite old-fashioned, that's all,' he says. Sitting opposite me in the lunchtime sunshine, with the film crew moving gear around us, he wears a black, close-fitting shirt over dark jeans.Within hours, the BBC's message board collapsed under the crush of breathless admirers. The stone he shed to play the part of Lucas North, recently returned from eight years in a Russian prison, made that imposing face appear more aquiline than ever. Half the women in the country probably wanted to reach inside the telly and pull him out to give him a hotpot.