A Conversation with Ali at RichardArmitageNet.Com

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richardarmitagenet.com – all rights reserved

Several years ago, and for many years, American television seemed to consist primarily of silly situational comedies, creepy and “unrealistic” reality TV, vicious gossip forums, and various types of vapid music competition shows. 

With the exception of PBS Stations and Masterpiece, I was starved for decent television.

strike back

richard armitage – john porter – strike back: origins

When BBC America reached American shores and became a cable channel staple, I believe I said a prayer of thanks to the Gods of Television – or at the very least suddenly became thrilled at the prospect of paying my monthly cable bill. (Trailer Video)

I very quickly became an addict.

Along with it came Netflix, which (then) for about $15.00 per month I was afforded all my new favorite shows and actors gifted from across the pond.

North and South was just such one of those shows, and with it came Richard Armitage.

Very soon I was clamoring to search for other work of Richard’s that was available, of which the aforementioned sources certainly did provide me the “hook up” – but still I wanted more.  So it was in my searches that I very quickly discovered the website, RichardArmitageNet.com (aka RANet.com).

Since then, the website has been a go-to for me for All-Things-Richard-Armitage, and where I simultaneously became a fan of the site as well.

Ali is the very talented, communicative and open Webmistress of RANet.com.  She generously agreed to speak with me about the website, its inception, her experiences, and the passion that fuels her as its Administrator.

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richardarmitagenet.com – all rights reserved

CC: When did you become moved enough by Richard Armitage, and his work as an Actor, to create a webpage for and about him?

ALI: “That’s not quite how it happened. I was asked to run a fansite (now closed down) for a short while with a friend when the current Admin [at the time] took a break in 2008. Both of us had met the Admin in real life and became friends so we were delighted and flattered when she asked us to run it for her. When she returned to the site my friend and I knew immediately we had to create our own site. It had been too much fun to let go and we now had the freedom to make design and content choices. There are now many sites of course and I think it’s great that they all offer something for everyone.”

CC: So you run the site by yourself now?  How did that come about?


Richard Armitage – Robert Ascroft, 2012

ALI: “In 2010 my friend decided she needed to take a step back from the site, which involved covering for me during holiday periods, but in the end the break came about naturally. Although she still follows Richard’s career, her attentions have been diverted by an actor who plays the infamous tricksy Norse God. He’s attracted the interest of many an RA fan as well I believe!”

CC: When is the anniversary of the inception of RANet.com?

ALI: “The website was created on 22 October 2008 under a different name and then renamed in April 2009 to RichardArmitageNet.com.”

CC: How has the experience of creating and maintaining the website changed your life or affected you, or what have been some of the pros and cons?

ALI: “That’s quite difficult to answer. Has it affected me? It has introduced me to many people around the world, some of whom I consider to be good friends and meeting some of those people has led to several entertaining weekends and many happy memories. Sometimes I’m faced with a few challenges that I could do without. I’ve never been close to wanting to give up the website, but I won’t lie and say that it’s always easy. You encounter many different types of people with many different requests, but it is true that 99% of the time running the website is just plain, good fun. That’s why I do it I think.  Lord knows I’ve asked myself many times why I run this site, but I think it’s because it’s my hobby, it’s fun, I learn new things all the time, I’m introduced to many lovely people via email all the time, and Richard continues to entertain me with fascinating interviews and captivating roles.”

double trouble

a favorite – the weekly “double trouble”
richardarmitagenet.com – all rights reserved

CC: How many hours a week would you say you spend on the site?

ALI: “That varies enormously depending on what Richard is doing and my own schedule. If I need to update the site with news and check for new comments and guestbook entries then I might only log-in for half an hour or an hour a day, but if I’m doing some general maintenance or updating site content then I might spend a few hours. The bulk of my time is not taken up with the website but responding to emails, and this amount of time has reduced considerably since the picture of the day feature stopped. I’ve had to implement that change because the spare time I had for the site has now disappeared since starting a new career. I am concerned about the influx of news we will likely get at the end of the year when promotion begins for The Desolation of Smaug as I won’t be able to update the website as often as I used to or reply to emails as promptly, but I’ll get there eventually.”


richard armitage – thorin oakenshield – the hobbit

CC: What would you say is your favorite article or audio interview of Richard? 

ALI: “I have two favourite radio interviews, the first because it’s downright hilarious and there is much giggling, and the second because Richard answered a question from me with the most brilliant answer about Gisborne’s back story. The funny interview is with Andi Peters on Heat Radio, October 2008  and the one in which he answered my question took place a year earlier in October 2007 in a radio interview with Radio Solent (#4 on this page).

It’s too difficult to choose a favourite [article] interview as there are so many. [Richard] always gives wonderful interviews to his original local paper, the Leicester Mercury. The interview on 15 Dec 2012 was a good one. I’m particularly fond of the Sunday Times Culture magazine interview, 30 April 2006, because that’s how I discovered Richard. Unlike most people who saw him first on screen, I saw him first on the cover of that newspaper and read the excellent article inside, intrigued by the guy who was going to play Claude Monet in the upcoming Impressionists series, as I’d heard that was airing soon and intended to watch it. After reading that article and watching The Impressionists, I bought the North and South DVD, watched it a few times, and then watched the first series of Robin Hood when it aired in the autumn of 2006 in the UK. I was hooked and found the Armitage Army forum (since renamed to the RichardArmitageCentral forum). So if you want to push me for a favourite interview, I’ll choose the Sunday Times 30 April 2006.


richard armitage – john thornton – north and south bbc mini series

I don’t have a favourite video interview as there are too many. Any new video becomes the favourite, especially when he hasn’t made any appearances for a while.”

CC: I think anyone who is a fan of Richard’s who is prone to comb the internet for interviews the way I have, or has heard them first hand, has a favorite quote.  What’s yours?

one final questionALI: “His answer to the question in the Radio Times Oct 2005 article ‘Put a handsome bloke in a period costume’, etc. In that answer, he nailed the reason women yearn for the romance offered to the heroines of period drama by Darcy/Rochester/Thornton. The end of his quote succinctly states what is lacking in many modern romcoms. They could learn a lot from period drama about how to heighten the unresolved sexual tension.

Another quote is from the Vulpes Libres interview July 2009:

‘One of my great mantras is that ‘characters are at their most interesting when they are behaving out of character’, so when actors say:  “my character just wouldn’t do that”, I always say ‘well see what happens when you ‘make’ them do that!’ I had to instruct myself like this quite frequently with Guy of Gisborne, which is why he became interesting to me. He helped me to develop as an actor, for this reason.’ – Richard Armitage

I read and re-read this quote many times. I’m often exasperated by critics of a show who take issue because they feel a character has acted ‘out of character’. Richard makes an excellent point that those out of character moments offer such interesting challenges to actors, but also I think, to audiences. If the actor is good enough, he will convince us.”

CC:  I certainly agree with that.  Since RANet.com is often my “go to” place for recently released or found images, I was wondering if you have a favorite picture of Richard?

ALI: “I have lots of favourite pictures and they were all posted in the last month of the POD, which are still displayed on my website.

Some of those pictures were requested by others, but the majority are mine. You’ll have to guess which ones are my favourites!”


richard armitage – lucas north – spooks (mi-5 in the u.s.)

 CC:  Of Richard’s work, what would you say is your favorite film and/or TV show?

ALI: “I don’t like to narrow this down as there are moments in many shows that are memorable, but if pressed I would say North and South. However Guy of Gisborne is my favourite character. It’s not happened yet, but I think the Hobbit trilogy might overtake N&S as my favourite if parts 2 and 3 are going to be as good as I think they are. I enjoyed An Unexpected Journey, but I think the best is yet to come.”

CC:  I do too.  Ali, have there been any perks or opportunities that have made your experience as Webmistress of RANet.com extra special?


richard armitage – guy of gisborne – robin hood bbc

ALI: “I have been sent some DVDs which I have given away in competitions and Warner Bros have been in touch a few times to give me press releases. I have had some interesting chats with TV writers on Twitter. Dominic Minghella (Robin Hood series 1&2 lead writer) was very kind.  And one of the Spooks writers said he referred to my site many times during the broadcast of Spooks to read the reviews and related articles, which was great.

Also Twitter has been useful when it comes to interviews: some TV stations and PR reps have tweeted me to tell me when Richard was interviewed so that I will publicize it for them via Twitter and on the site, so that’s been great.

That’s about it!”

A huge thank you to Ali for all her patience and time for this interview!


41 thoughts on “A Conversation with Ali at RichardArmitageNet.Com

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  4. Continuing separately b/c putting two hyperlinks in a comment usually hangs it up in moderation — early on, I also interviewed Eli, who was a leading force behind the Armitage Army website (the site is now defunct and only the forum survives): http://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/fanstravaganza-day-6/

    This is why interview like the one Crystal’s done with Ali are important — because they archive information about the origins of the independent fan sites (as opposed to the ones connected with commercial interests). It hasn’t been done for all the sites, and some (AceMarsupial, e.g., is one I can think of) have disappeared. I believe that someone did an interview with the RACentral people a few years ago — maybe Frenz? — but I’m not sure where that is. In any case, there’s no objective statement of the strengths of each site, simply our perceptions. But I do think that knowing how these things came to be helps us use them, so it’s important to ask questions about how they came to be. It’s also interesting to ask about what each site developer would change or redesign if she could, or she has any foibles that affect her site construction. Ali, for instance, likes to renumber her files :)


  5. I don’t understand why some comments permit a reply and others don’t (happens on my blog as well) Anyway, this is for way up there, to Servetus, is there someplace that actually explains the merits of each site?


  6. Thank you so much Crystal for this wonderful interview and thank you Ali for taking the time out of your busy life by agreeing to do it. If my memory serves me correctly I have been following RichardArmitageNet.com since 2008 and possibly even before Ali and her friend took it on. It is normally the first site I look at every day even before I open my email or FB.

    Over the years Ali has patiently answered emails from me even though the questions have at times been only vaguely related to Richard or his work! Never have I been made to feel my questions or pleas for help were not worth bothering with or too much trouble for Ali to deal with. On the contrary, I’ve been made to feel I have found a friend.


    • Not speaking specifically for Ali (see her comment above), but this is lovely, thank you. And that is certainly far longer than I have been a fan of Ali or even Richard. So it is nice to meet another “veteran” Armitage Army member, as many of the others are who have commented here. It is really wonderful for me to be amongst such company. :)


    • Hi my dear, I consider you a very dear friend after all the lovely chats we’ve had. My friend and I started RAnet.com in 2008 under a different name having previously been admin of a completely separate RA site which has since closed down – just wanted to clarify that.


      • Thank you so much Ali! We have indeed had some lovely chats. :) I don’t remember the name of the site you “looked after” before you and your friend branched out on your own, but I believe I do remember who that friend was – at least I think I got *that* bit right! :) I also remember very clearly when you started administering the site by yourself!


    • Bless you, Ali, for taking the time to do the interview, and for having the confidence in me to do it. I more than appreciate your candor as well as all the information you shared, but I am especially thankful for your patience with me and the process itself. It was certainly a joy for me to do, and I hope it was the same for you. God speed to you, in all that you do, and to all that the future holds for you with RichardArmitageNet.com! – Crystal


  7. Thank you both for a wonderful interview. RANet was my first RA website when I discovered Richard and still continues to be my daily go-to. Ali does a wonderful job.


  8. Very interesting post, about Ali’s site, thank you. I’m constantly impressed at the diverse skills people acquire almost by accident as they explore their creativity in the fandom. Also I was not aware of the origins of the other fan sites, great information sharing by Servetus.


    • Thank you, yes, I too am constantly amazed at the amount of creativity and willingness to explore more in terms of using technology as an outlet for that creativity. Although I am not a veteran or frequent user of the forums, they are a great way to share information and talk with other fans. I hope to visit them more often in the future. Servetus mentioned connections between some of the forums and sites, which I too actually never knew until now. But it makes perfect sense and it is fascinating how information sharing can morph into a more fleshed out, tangible archive of information.

      After hearing Ali’s story – about how she got her feet wet just helping a friend out and found she wanted more – I saw some small similarities a little my experience, although I don’t actually see a website in my future. I know for a fact that I cannot do better than what is there for us already, in terms of Richard-rich sites. I am a happy consumer in my Richarding and blogging. :)


  9. Thanks for this interview! Ali is such a star! I am happy to know more about her and her wonderful site! I will enjoy trying to guess which ones are her favourite pictures!


  10. Wonderful interview, great questions – wonderful to know about Ali the person and how the website got started. I know I rely on her website for my own RA posts and everything that’s RA related and I applaud her dedication on behalf of all of us Armitage fans.


  11. Big thanks for this interview Ali and Crystal! For quite a while RAnet is a place where I go to on a daily basis to check if anything new has happend or to browse through Richards huge “back-catalogue”. I’ve read the Q&As with great interest and it’s very nice to learn a bit more about Ali. I’m so deeply grateful for all the work she does for us hooked RA-admirers. :D


  12. Brilliant interview, Crystal – and what a fabulous idea to interview Ali. I more or less look at RAnet every day – it is just a treasure trove. Plus, I have to say that Ali is the most professional, nicest person to deal with – even if or possibly even despite you making a mistake… Now I can’t wait to look up the favourites that Ali mentioned in the interview. I suspect I have read them all (trawled through RAnet some time last year, top to bottom, when the obsession hit), but it’s going to be nice to read them again. Thanks to both Crystal and Ali!!!


    • Yes, I agree. In terms of “making a mistake”, I hope you mean in general – if so, I agree. Even when I have, and she mentions it, her intent is always clearly well meaning. Now if there is a mistake in this post, please tell me right away so I can correct it asap! ;) And it was the same with all her link references! I spent much time (read: easily distracted), while in the HTML linking process – either enjoying some for the first time, or re-living again when first I had heard/read/seen that which she referenced. She really does have the best archives, and in that there is no disrespect intended to a host of other lovely Richard Armitage websites, and their Archives, out there. But what is the greatest aspect of Ali’s site is how easy it is to navigate. That is why I mainly go there. Although I have never officially been diagnosed with ADD, I often feel savant-like in that I might understand, and can use, the Dewey Decimal System, but can’t make my way around a library efficiently because I am too distracted by all the books! ;)


      • IMO the sites really can’t be easily compared. They have different structures that developed out of different reasons for being and different fan cultures.


        • It is quite a concept to think that there are different “fan cultures” with “one” fandom. I have trouble wrapping my brain around the enormity of that, but that is truly how many fans there are. Towns within counties within regions within states within countries within continents – a planet that is the Richard Armitage fandom. Makes sense since…I often feel like I am on another planet (or from another planet, I’m not quite sure.) ;)


          • Yeah — but it’s why understanding the history of each site and its construction is so important (see comment above). Richard Armitage Online, for instance, is maintained by one person but it is an outgrowth of interactions on C19, which had a different original membership and different discourse rules than the group that created Richard Armitage Central (for instance), which came from elsewhere. I think that understanding where these sites came from helps people understand why they are organized the way they are and how they can be used with the most utility by newcomers who perhaps don’t share the presuppositions of the people who created them. The user’s going to get something different out of each site that’s based on the reasons for creating them.


            • Yes, I see what you are saying. And of course.

              In approaching Ali, and in writing this post, I knew that other sites might come up. Because I concentrated here on RichardArmitageNet, I kept it purposely focused there because an article on more goes far beyond what I can not only lend time to, but bring proper and appropriate justice to.

              Hopefully those of you who are fans of other sites, like yourself (and as I am), will understand this.

              But also understand that I had to be honest in mentioning my own navigation difficulties as being a factor, in just one aspect of my attraction to Ali’s site. :)


              • Sure, and I don’t object to that, or even to people having preferences. I have preferences, myself. And Ali knows very well how I feel about her site — she’s heard it from me personally several times. I just think that noting that the construction of sites relates to other factors (I could have added — software available and known to their designers at the time) helps us not only understand them, it helps to make them easier for us and others to use — and lets us know what information we’re likely to find there. (Basic reference theory, here.) The site constructions are heavily path dependent because it takes so much to set them up. Renovations are difficult. And the same energy that propelled the initial design of a site may not be available when it comes to a refit. Your needs may fit well, unconsciously, with the factors that propelled the creation of that site, so your preference itself is the outcome of a certain causality. It is not merely arbitrary; it says just as much about you as it does about the site. That’s all I wanted to point out.


                • Speaking of which, I had much trouble myself in this posting here, in regards to software bugs and glitches. Often each edit – whether it was an added image, or image move, or just plain saving of a draft – would result in content drop. It was frustrating. I have learned that the WordPress software is certainly not without its flaws. :/


                  • Tip: Always, always, before you hit save or preview, when you use WP — put everything in your clipboard (control A, then control C in the text field). That way if the software or the web craps out on you, all you have to do is open a new page and paste it in there (control V). The copy won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the previous autosave.


                    • That sounds good. I learned to do something similar, which was Copy a block of text with links within the “vicinity” of an image I planed to insert. If text “disappeared”, then I would paste and edit where needed. Or I went back into the “edit archives”, because that contains the actual HTML. But often I would have to redo the HTML links. Many times I would be about to Publish, and preview first (always!) and *bam* I’d notice a broken or missing link. Or links would open in the same window and not in a new window, as previously instructed. It is now tempting to keep my posts much simpler, but I know that won’t last long with me. ;) Creating Posts like these is like most any art – knowing when to stop is the key.


      • Sorry, that was unclearly phrased. No mistake in your post. I was referring to a silly mistake *I* made recently and that was dealt with most graciously.


        • *Whew*, oh good, glad no mistakes in the post. :)

          I now really try to be careful when I quote someone, especially Richard – or in recalling anything I “think” I know. But the truth is my memory recall is not what I wish it actually was. So I do really work to be better at looking things over many times, and reviewing sources well, before I leap and post. Ali is good about being on it, and yet gracious in her approach, as you said. Kindness and tact in correcting people is an art.


  13. Thanks for this interview and a huge thank you to Ali for all her incredible work! She is a wonderful webmistress and a very kind person. I hope we will have fun as soon as RA will pop up again for DoS and Black Sky/Into the storm. Grazie Ali! :P


  14. I’m really delighted when people do these interviews because this fandom does have a history and a lot of times people forget about it — it’s because of earlier fans that we have these great records of what Armitage was doing, and most fandoms I’m aware of don’t have it. Ali’s contribution has been inestimable and I’m so happy to read more about it!


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