Long before Aidan Turner titillated his fanbase with his bare-chested scything on 'Poldark', even longer before Ben Batt glowered across the haystack in 'The Go-Between', there was Mr Darcy, diving into TV history.
More precisely, there was actor Colin Firth knocking his knees with cold by the side of an English lake, taking the role of Jane Austen's most memorable love interest, before donning a white shirt, diving in and promptly steaming up the camera lens, not to mention the glasses of a nation of ladies, and some gents, of a certain age. But it was never meant to happen like that.
Colin Firth and the producers have always maintained they had NO idea they would have such an effect on their audiences
'Pride and Prejudice' as written by Austen and adapted by veteran screenwriter Andrew Davies debuted exactly 20 years ago today and was already bubbling along nicely in the Sunday evening ratings when THIS happened. Back in the day, pre-Twitter when there was still a water-cooler in the office to have a moment by, the only topic on anyone's lips was "Did you see him... ?"
The great moment did Colin Firth no harm at all, as he was cast soon after that in the role of Mark Darcy, Bridge Jones' love interest in the film adaptation of her diaries. His light has continued to shine on the big screen, including his winning an Oscar for the 2010 film 'The King's Speech'.
But, according to Andrew Davies, like all the best TV moments, this Darcy fixation was a complete fluke, with him giving Colin Firth and his character... well, just something to do while he waited for his house guests.
WATCH Andrew Davies reflect on that moment above...
And the rest is, well, it's white-shirted, wet-breeched, socially-stumbling history.