THE BBC, BY BURBERRY

The BBC, by Burberry
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THE BBC, BY BURBERRY



Written by Hatti Whitman
Photos and illustrations by Mario Testino, Giles Keytes
23 Monday 23rd January 2012

Vanessa Kirby and Douglas Booth in Great Expectations. Photo © BBC.

The BBC’s Sunday night slot is, it would appear, the stamping ground of choice for 2012 of the Burberry model. It all started just after Christmas as the terrifyingly beautiful Douglas Booth winsomed (yes I’m using it as a verb, can you think of a better way to describe his actions?) his way onto our screens as Pip in Great Expectations. As adaptations go this was fresh and innovative but it’s already received quite a lot of ire for its casting, with many viewers being confused by a version of the Dickens classic in which the awkwardly earnest blacksmith’s boy is just as stunning as the ice queen that he falls in love with. Estella was played by the gorgeous Vanessa Kirby, but it seems that many were so blindsided by Pip’s poutiness that her more subtle charms fell by the wayside.

Whether or not you think that Booth’s sculptural brand of male beauty was right for Dickens, it has to be said that it looked pretty good in Mario Testino’s Burberry FW 2010-11 campaign (above). As ever the shoot was wall-to-wall cheekbones, which complemented the slick rock & roll aesthetic really well, and obviously made full use of Booth’s vaguely androgynous assets. For its new season campaign (SS 2012) Burberry has enlisted Eddie Redmayne, fresh from playing the doomed lead in Shakespeare’s Richard II at the Donmar Warehouse, and currently appearing as heartbroken and tortured protagonist Stephen Wraysford in Birdsong, the BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s iconic novel airing on Sunday nights.

As actors go it’s immediately clear that Redmayne is in something of a different league to Booth. He’s not so shockingly good-looking but he has an agonised intensity that is really working for the war-torn and lovelorn Wraysford, and his range of work is testament to the wealth of his acting talent. However, as the new campaign shows, Redmayne shines in front of the photographer’s lens as well as that of the filmmaker. He first modelled for Burberry way back in 2008, and it would appear that it’s rather a good fit.

Fashion and film have always made good bedfellows but the way that Burberry choose young, recognisable icons of British cool to front their campaigns has moved it into a different league, and may well have something to do with the proliferation of extraordinarily aesthetically pleasing acting talent currently appearing on the small screen. Personally I reckon this trend has its roots in Downton Abbey’s casting of the handsome, wholesome Dan Stevens as handsome, wholesome Cousin Matthew alongside the bevy of English-rose style beauties that is Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Jessica Brown-Findlay as the Crawley sisters. Before Downton British television did not seem to really be the place for the outrageously genetically blessed to showcase their talents; apparently this is now changing, and the BBC are leaping to it with their casting choices.

Freddie Fox as Edwin Drood. Photo © BBC.

So who can we expect to see gracing the billboards for Burberry come the autumn? Recent programming suggests two frontrunners. Freddie Fox, who recently appeared as foppish wastrel Edwin Drood as part of the BBC’s Dickens season, has a combination of angelic colouring, delicate facial structure and acting-dynasty-pedigree (brother of Emilia, son of Edward) that marks him both for period drama superstardom (he’s currently shooting Sir Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Parade’s End) and lucrative contracts with fashion houses that capitalise on their British heritage. Then there's Aneurin Barnard, who will appear this week as David Bailey to Karen Gillan’s Jean Shrimpton in BBC4’s We’ll Take Manhattan. Set in the sixties, this tells the story of Bailey and Shrimpton’s iconic New York photoshoot for Vogue. Barnard is all huge dark eyes, curls and the prerequisite cut-glass cheekbones, and, like Eddie Redmayne, he’s got some pretty serious actor credentials having won a Laurence Olivier Award for his performance in the musical Spring Awakening. Barnard and Fox would look rather striking slotted in amongst the usual Burberry girls (Cara Delevigne, Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley, Nina Porter, Jourdan Dunn etc.), but before placing your bets it’s probably a good idea to check the BBC’s summer programming, just in case Christopher Bailey's got an ace up his sleeve.

Aneurin Barnard as David Bailey. Photo © BBC.

We'll Take Manhattan is on BBC4 at 9pm this Thursday. Birdsong concludes next Sunday at 9pm on BBC1; the first episode is available now on iPlayer.

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