WE WOMEN should celebrate: there’s a new ‘topless TV hunk’ to light up our Sunday nights.

At least that’s what the papers are saying of Tom Bateman, who stripped off in the first episode of ITV’s new series Beecham House, screened last night.

Clearly inspired by Aidan Turner’s muscular physique in the BBC’s Poldark, Bateman was seen sweaty and topless, hacking away at shrubs in a scene similar to the now famous scything shots of Aidan Turner that launched his reputation as a TV heartthrob.

Bateman is reported to have said: “I am not stupid. I know some boxes are there to be ticked…he (his TV character) was doing it for a practical reason, that he needed to cut all this stuff down so the spies can’t hide in the bushes and standing still in India you’re sweating so there’s no way you would be clothed.”

What I’d like to know is why women turn to jelly when faced with shirtless, heavily perspiring men? My husband is often to be found, hot and sweaty, battling undergrowth in our garden - but were he to do this semi-naked, I would be straight down there with a T-shirt to tell him to maintain some decency.

And, let’s face it, you can’t really be manly with a pair of B&Q secateurs, no matter how ferociously you wield them.

Aidan and Tom obviously have the edge on my husband so far as classic male physique goes, but to be brutally honest I’d rather see them with clothes on too.

It is a sad reflection that to hook women into a new historical drama there has to be a pin-up type showing off his wares. It would never have happened in The Forsyte Saga or The Onedin Line.

It is interesting to hear women’s reactions to these TV hunks. They don’t only giggle, like women in Jane Austen novels, but they really let rip with their phwoars and whoas.

Would it be acceptable for men to rave and drool in the same way about women’s bodies?Maybe a few decades ago, but certainly not today.

Yet now it happens in reverse all the time, and is actively encouraged.

Poldark returns to our screens in July, sparking a head-to-head battle in these ‘pec-packed period pieces’, as one newspaper labelled the two dramas, ‘forcing viewers to choose between hunks.’

Of course, with all the ‘on demand’ services, this which-hunk-to-watch dilemma will not arise in many homes.

It definitely won’t be an issue in mine. Maybe I am unusual, but my Sunday nights are lit up not by bare-chested men, but by sheep, pigs and cows on BBC’s Countryfile, by paintings and trinkets on Antiques Roadshow and the viewers’ reactions as to their worth, and by great period dramas like Gentleman Jack, which - although it has a sexual relationship between two women at its heart, is filmed without deliberate titillation.

Some things are best left to the imagination.

I am not entirely immune to the charms of male heartthrobs in historical dramas. But they do not need to strip off to set my pulse racing. Alan Bates did not de-robe in his role as Gabriel Oak in Far From The Madding Crowd, and he’s about as smouldering and sexy as any male lead. I admit to going weak at the knees over him.

Unusually, I will give the last word from my husband, who, after reading this, insisted that if a topless Aidan Turner or Tom Bateman walked into our living room “you’d be all giggly and flirty…you’d be dithering about offering them cups of tea.”

Maybe that’s true, but I’d like to think that even in that situation I could maintain some level of decorum…

*WELL done to Copthorne Primary School  in Bradford for making pupils think before they use the word ‘like’ during conversations.
If a child uses a sentence peppered with ‘’like’ they are encouraged to work with a partner for five minutes to think about how else they could phrase it to improve their  speaking skills. Both my daughters say ‘like’ constantly and it sounds terrible. I always pick them up on it but they can’t stop.  At one point I stopped replying if the sentence had ‘like’ in it. Let’s hope this  school initiative helps to lessen its use. 

*IS IT really true that 20-something Brits pick their mums over their mates when going on holiday?
Three quarters (79 per cent) of young adults are choosing to holiday with their parents, says research from the holiday firm First Choice.
Saving money, being able to afford multiple holidays in the year, and being able to enjoy a more luxury getaway were key reasons as to why.
I can’t imagine our daughters wanting to go on holiday with my husband and me. 
Living way from us, they are used to freedom and wouldn’t want me fretting and waiting up if they went out by themselves at night.
It would have to be a separate hotel at the opposite end of a very long island for them to even consider it.