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