Scan the list of Emmy Awards nominees and you'll discover plenty of British actors gracing the list. American TV lovers have often felt that British television has better writing than the series made here, but looking at the nominees this year, it looks like we might be enjoying the U.K.'s broader definition of sexiness as well. After all, a period piece on PBS like "Downton Abbey" would never be such a hit without its heavy dose of soap opera drama and sex appeal.
Nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, "Downton Abbey" boasts a fine cast of actors who've also raked in the nominations. Michelle Dockery has gotten a well-deserved Lead Actress nod for her role as the complicated Lady Mary Crawley. The gorgeous, porcelain-skinned actress brings a wonderful mix of haughty superiority and fragile vulnerability to the part, and her sultry-voiced character has men swooning both on and off screen. Even "Harry Potter" star Rupert Grint has been unable to resist a flirt.
Brendan Coyle, who plays the disabled valet Bates, doesn't fit the Hollywood hunk stereotype, but stirs up romantic feelings in more than just the character Anna, played by fellow Supporting Actor nominee Joanna Froggatt. "We all tease him about being a heart-throb," says costar Dan Stevens, who plays the recent wounded war vet Matthew Crawley. "I saw his limp and I thought, 'I can compete with that: I'll see your stick and raise you a set of wheels.'"
"Downton Abbey" has a refreshing take on the soap opera, with a wide array of characters that shatter conventions on what style, type, persuasion, or age of person deserves a romantic storyline--or any storyline at all. One of the most beloved characters on the show, after all, is the feisty, sarcastic Dowager Countess Violet--played by 77-year-old Maggie Smith. She's also earned an Emmy nomination, along with costars Hugh Bonneville and Jim Carter.
"Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia"
It may seem impossible that a man by the name of Benedict Cumberbatch can be a sex symbol, but the tall, narrow-eyed and long-faced Brit with the mop of disheveled dark hair has captured a pretty strong fan base. The sexy intensity of his character has no doubt fanned the flames, helped by his graceful air and deep, seductive voice.
This modern incarnation of Sherlock Holmes is brilliant, a little crazy and damaged, and not afraid of showing vulnerability. Not such a surprise heartthrob, then. There's also the added mystery of his character's sexuality, adding fuel to the warm bromance with Watson (Emmy-nominated Martin Freeman.) Then we get the the deliciously erotic, romantic tension with dominatrix Irene Adler in "Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia," likely a large reason behind the Emmy Awards nomination for Outstanding Made for TV Movie/Miniseries.
Taking a somewhat off-putting and often insensitive character and making him likable, even attractive, has also earned Cumberbatch an Emmy nomination for lead actor. The honor probably makes more sense to him than his current sex symbol status, which took him by surprise. "I do find it funny," he explains, "I look in a mirror and I see all the faults I've lived with for 35 years and yet people go kind of nuts for certain things about me. It's not me being humble. I just think it's weird."
More From Across the Pond
It's no surprise that the violent, sex-filled, controversial "Game of Thrones" is also up for an Outstanding Drama Series nomination. Name a vice, and it's portrayed on screen. Fan favorite Tyrion Lannister, played by Emmy nominee Peter Dinklage, is equal parts crafty, cunning, honorable, and horny. The show's brutal, no holds-barred portrayals of characters and their needs definitely puts a new spin on sexy.
Other British and Australian nominees include Clive Owen, Emma Thompson, Idris Elba and Nicole Kidman. Which actors and series are your favorites? Do you enjoy the different spin on sexiness that British series bring to TV?
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- Emmy Awards
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- Outstanding Drama Series