The Trouble With Harry

HSure, Richard Armitage is deliciously stunning as Harry Kennedy,The Handsome Stranger who sweeps vicar Geraldine Granger off her feet in The Vicar of Dibley 2006-2007 Christmas special, him with his floppy black hair and dazzling smile. Yes, the BBC audience must have been beside themselves with delight and surprise when on Christmas 2006 the door of Sleepy Cottage opened revealing North and South heartthrob, Mr. Thornton. And OK, this was the first real RomCom – the only one – for Armitage, and we know he loved filming the episodes.

Source:RichardArmitageCentral.UK.Co

Source:RichardArmitageCentral.UK.Co

Still, I don’t understand why so many fans count Harry Kennedy among, if not their number one, favorite Armitage roles.

He doesn’t engage in challenging acting, or if he does, he isn’t stretching himself. He’s basically playing straight man to Dawn French’s hysterically comedic Geraldine – I don’t think he has one funny line in either of the two episodes.

So what’s it all about? Why do some fans choose Harry Kennedy as their favorite role over other meatier, dramatic roles?

One thought, at least for the BBC audience, might be that wonderful surprise of seeing an actor you love play something so against type – and on a favorite sitcom. I know I felt that way – like I’d gotten a gift from the network, when, seemingly out of the blue, Brad Pitt showed up on an episode of Friends orΒ even better, when

Brad Pitt at a Friends' Thanksgiving (2001)

Brad Pitt at a Friends’ Thanksgiving (2001)

my favorite actress, Susan Sarandon showed up, also on Friends.

Celia_monroeSurprise may explain why British Armitage fans love Harry Kennedy so much, but what about all the other fans who favor Harry Kennedy over Lucas and Mr. Thornton and John Porter? Could it be that it’s because Armitage is playing against type – giving us Β a glimpse into what it would be like if he were in a romantic comedy?
Last Fall the Richard Armitage IMDB board had a contest/game to select Richard Armitage’s favorite character. John Standring gave Harry Kennedy a run for his money, but in the end, the handsome stranger beat out the awkward farm hand.

But in my book, favorite character and favorite role are discrete categories. The former asks the question, do you like Harry Kennedy better than, say Lucas North or Thorin. The latter asks whether one likes Richard Armitage’s work better as one character than another. I understand why Harry Kennedy is so likeable – he’s sweet and pliant and he rescues beloved Geraldine from loneliness and spinsterhood. But I don’t understand what it is that fans see in Armitage’s work in the role.vod2-124
So, tell me.

24 thoughts on “The Trouble With Harry

  1. How can you look at that face in the last picture and ask why so many’s favorite character is Harry? Such a sweetie. It is such fun to see him smile and flirt and laugh. That being said, Harry is not my favorite either. I also have “issues” with how Geraldine acts, but that is not about RA or Harry.

    Like

  2. That’s not the question though – fave character I understand. Fave role – not so much. But he s adorable, isn’t he? What are your Geraldine “issues?”

    Like

  3. you made a very important distinction there: favorite character does not necessarily mean favorite instance of acting. Having said that, Harry is my favorite for all of the likable, endearing qualities you mentioned and also because it does show Richard’s acting range. I saw Richard first in the Hobbit and then as Harry (I’d never seen or even heard of Vicar of Dibley before that). Sometimes you just like a program or a person because they make you smile; so many RA fans say that Harry is their go-to role for when they need cheering up. Harry just makes us feel good πŸ˜€

    Like

    • I’ve got to tell you that I haven’t been on line too much and didn’t see your post until now- so this is not in response.
      I think your explanation is a good one. “Feel good” – there’s nothing wrong with that.
      But I do have to ask, about Harry – what acting range? What did it show to you? And I am keeping in mind that the nature of the series, doesn’t require great acting – just good comedy – which he wasn’t given much of a chance to exhibit. And I am also considering the lines he was given – his purpose in the episodes.

      Like

      • I didn’t take your post as a response to mine, I gush about Harry frequently, so I honestly lose track of when I’ve posted about him πŸ˜› as for your question about the acting aspect though: a straight man does not just stand there, they need to have a gift for timing and for facial/body language. when Geraldine, in the proposal scene, gets the book out to record the dates, Harry gives a little confused look and pulls at his collar; very simple and subtle, but it makes the scene funny. when Harry is being playful in the “kissing with tongues” scene that so many of us love, it’s the way he builds it up with the dry delivery, the way he fiddles with his glasses and clicks the pen, and then the timing and body language when he delivers the line about tongues, along with that head shake. Richard makes Harry very personable and endearingly cheeky with those little subtleties 😎

        Like

  4. Richard plays the comedic straight man (which is not an easy thing to do) in the scenes so well, as the perfect foil to the lovable insanity that is the VoD cast. From my POV, he played the role as an ordinary bloke … an accountant who met a woman, fell in love and wants to settle down with her. But this wasn’t any ordinary woman, so hilarity ensues.

    While the character of Harry wasn’t given many of the comedic lines, those that he had were delivered with subtle comedic touch. (At least for me.) For example, in the second ep (your last image), his quiet response of “it was touch and go” to Gerry’s “still love me?” was done perfectly and had even my husband laughing out loud. And seriously, his delivery of “this second” in the first kiss scene was knife-edge funny and heartwarming at the same time. (Again, at least for me.) πŸ™‚

    I think much of Richard’s comedic acting in VoD was done with his face and body. Wrinkling his brow in confusion, exuding a shy disposition, pulling at his collar, leaning on the doorjamb (for one last look), casting that nearly leering look over his glasses , etc … as Kebel said, all very sweet and nearly naughty at the same time. He got those qualities across without a lot of dialogue.

    I’d say this role is one of my favorites because of the combination of Richard Curtis’ writing, Dawn French’s comedic timing, and Richard’s chameleon-like ability to step into a role and make it his own. Oh, and the kissing. Let’s not forget the kissing. Yep, definitely the kissing … πŸ˜‰ (That ruined any arguments I gave up there, didn’t it? LOL)

    Like

    • Not ruined at all. This is the stuff I want to hear. Actually my favorite part is when he is frolicking with his sister on the path. It’s so silly, I love it.

      Like

  5. Perry, I’m with you 100%. It’s head-scratching to me that Harry so often comes out at the top of Richard’s roles, because I think it’s one of his least interesting characters.

    Like

  6. You did not dream that, and I think that’s part of the reason the character is so popular. But, nothing about what we know of Richard Armitage supports that, since we know nothing about his romantic life, and I don’t think he comes across as a Harry Kennedy in his interviews.

    Like

  7. Harry Kennedy is the most “normal” character Richard has portrayed so perhaps that was why he compared himself to Harry. I have no problem with Harry if he were a neighbor or coworker or friend–I just don’t think he is interesting enough for me to watch on TV, which is something that can be said for most really nice people. (Seriously, think of your most beloved friends and family members. How many of them would make interesting television characters?)

    The most fascinating characters in movies and television are those who are ambiguous or complicated or sometimes down right evil. One of my all time favorite characters on a television show was Ben Linus on Lost. As much as I loved that character due to his complexity, unpredictability, lying and scheming, I would never want to come across Ben Linus in my real life. But wow, was he a lot of fun to watch!

    Like

    • Harry read books – that’s good but the books he was reading were not that interesting. And, he was an accountant. Whenever a writer needs a dull profession, they come up with accountant. Still, I feel confident saying that Richard Armitage was the best Harry Kennedy. No one could have done it better. And I get why others are so enamored of the episodes. I think it may be the normalcy. And he’s darn cute in it.
      And BTW, with all, I watch it quite often.

      Like

      • it is the normalcy for me that I find so endearing πŸ™‚ when someone asks me what my fav character or role is, I factor in my overall perception: the character, the storyline, the acting, the physical appearance, etc. if someone were more specific and asked me which role of Richard’s is my fav from an acting point of view, my answer would be different. “favorite” does not necessarily mean best.

        Like

        • Yes, I can see that. My favorite is Lucas North, and I don’tt think it’s his best either. But the character, and how he portrays him, how he looks – how if it affected me when I first saw – remains always my favorite despite better work.
          More and more I like these posts that open up a question for discussion.

          Like

          • I like the discussions too, seeing how my opinions differ from others and why or discovering new insights into a character/subject as a result of conversation. I always learn something, whether it’s intellectual or introspective πŸ™‚

            Like

      • He’s darn cute AND he doesn’t die, always a bonus… πŸ˜‰

        Not my favourite by any means but Harry is delightful if you need cheering up!

        Like

  8. Harry was my first chaRActer love and for that reason he will always remain one of my favourites. All he did was open the door, step out, smile that gorgeous smile, twinkle and say hello, so I guess I’m pretty easy to please! For me it’s the feel good factor, and when RA says Harry is the one most like him in real life, I’m inclined to believe him, because I see in both a gentlemanly man with a cheeky sense of humour and a caring nature, with a love for books.
    I can’t name just one favourite character, or role for that matter, and I do think there needs to be a distinction between the two. Richard’s S9 Lucas North was a powerhouse performance as he unravelled, but in no way does John Batemen appeal to me…not that he even exists, of course. πŸ˜‰
    I adore S7&8 Lucas and Porter, they round out my top three, but Thornton, Guy and Thorin are close behind (with an honourable mention to Claude!) I truly don’t understand why some say that his characters are similar. For me Richard brings something different to each role, so I couldn’t nominate one as being better than all the others. But who knows, maybe Chop will be just such a role!

    Like

  9. I have to say that I enjoy watching Harry, however it is Guy of Gisborne and Lucas North that fire my imagination (apart from the acting, possibly the victim / conflicted angle pushes some dark unconscious buttons but I won’t go there now). Confession – I named my second son Lucas – prior to Spooks season 9 screening in Australia. I was a bit non plussed with the whole John Bateman psycho traitor development, however don’t regret the Lucas name!

    Like

  10. I like the name Lucas. I don’t think I’ve ever known one in real life. Lucas is a favorite of mine also. FOr the acting and the character. There’s a vulnerability there that I cotton to.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s