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I believe it’s healthy – honorable even – to set aside one day a year to be completely superficial and salacious. I’m getting mine out of the way early. Let’s celebrate the hot people! Between Hex and new seasons of Footballers Wive$, BBC AMERICA sent the mercury soaring in 2006. But you’ll find that every show has a bit of unexpected sexiness. OK, not Benny Hill, God rest his zaftig soul.

This list probably won’t be as controversial as last year’s, but I hope it reflects the diversity of hotness that is BBCA. First up, the women…

10. Liz White
Annie, Life On Mars; Eileen, The Street

When I first saw Liz White as Annie Cartwright on Life On Mars, I thought she had the most unflattering hair and wardrobe of any attractive woman ever on television. But as the series went on and we got more opportunities to see Annie out of her WPC uniform and all tarted up, we fell in love with her as we suspect Sam Tyler did. Actress Liz White showed a different side on The Street as a wife whose husband cheated on her. Nothing against the lovely Jane Horrocks, who played the other woman, but who cheats on Liz White?

9. Zoe Tapper

Gemma, Hex; Jenny Maple, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky; Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

She went from playing a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold (Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky) to a vodka-soaked prep-school bimbo (Hex) to a Shakespearean maiden (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) in the course of our BBC AMERICA year. Tapper’s rare mixture of innocence and sex appeal had us convinced in all her roles.

8. Frances de Costa
Yasmin, Footballers Wive$ Overtime

Ay, mamacita. 2006 was the year of the sexy British bad girl (Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse). As Yasmin Salter, surprise daughter of footballer Bruno Milligan, de Costa is the sex goddess who’ll shag you blind and then steal your iPod afterward. And ya know what, we wouldn’t mind. iPods can be replaced; memories last forever.

7. Laura Pyper
Ella, Hex

With her leather bustiers, whips, swords, and netherwordly accoutrements, she’s the super-sexy dominatrix of doom. Ella Dee’s a centuries-old witch with a major score to settle with one Mr. Azazeal, and she is pissed. After months of Cassie’s waffling, it was refreshing to have a heroine come in, kick some undead ass, and take control, although things got a bit hairy for Ella at the end of Season One.

6. Emily Blunt
Natasha, Gideon’s Daughter

She’s not so much hot as she is luminous. As Jimmy Stewart told Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, she’s “lit from within,” filled with “hearth-fires and holocausts.” When she appears as Bill Nighy’s daughter in Gideon’s Daughter, she startles you with that sad, brilliant, puppy-dog face. Yet like Ms. Hepburn, she’s deadly, and when she sings that song to Bill Nighy, it’s like a razor to the heart.

5. Amber Sainsbury
Roxanne, Hex

OK, we questioned the hair. You know what we’re talking about–the space-age mullet Roxanne had when first appeared as Cassie’s super-snotty foil on Hex. But Amber Sainsbury evolved into the show’s supreme sex goddess when she pursued Medenham’s mysterious new teacher, Jez. She took down her man, all right, and she wins this year’s award for Sexiest Post-Coital Dress-Up Scene.

4. Christina Cole
Cassie, Hex

Watching Casino Royale, you may have done a double take and said to yourself, “What’s Cassie doing up there with James Bond?” To confuse us further, Cole even did her trademark Cassie “whisper.” (You know, the lean forward, the squinted eyes, the sexy curl of the lip.) Obviously, the producers of the Bond movies know what we know: Christina Cole is damn hot. Too bad she had to die when her character, Cassie Hughes, was finally growing a backbone.

3. Jemima Rooper
Thelma, Hex

Cassie may be blonder, Roxanne may be more curvaceous, but Hex fans know who the real hot chick of Medenham Hall is. Thelma’s whip-smart witticisms and insatiable appetite captivated us from the get-go. What was missing was that L-Word-worthy, lipstick lesbian makeover. Who knew death was the ultimate remedy for bad hair and makeup? Now that she’s svelte and emboldened with an ass-kicking purpose, Thelma’s all that and a bag of Walker’s crisps.

2. Billie Piper
Rose, Doctor Who

Lisa Rinna, eat your collagen-bloated heart out! It is Billie Piper who has the sexiest lips in all of telly. Doctor Who fans pride themselves on the fact that their series has avoided romantic entanglements between the Doctor and his companions. But who could blame the Doctor for shagging the lovely Rose Tyler–just one time? Even aliens need a little lovin’.

1. Laila Rouass
Amber, Footballers Wive$

OK, so she’s the “Bollywood nutter” of Footballers Wive$, to quote Amber’s nemesis, Tanya Turner. But when this psycho bitch slinked on-screen, wielding a dildo and a smile, we knew she was gonna spark things up. Whether she’s feigning suicide, conspiring with a voodoo priest, or recording crappy pop records (see “Bhangra Booty”), one thing’s for sure: we’ll never say maybe to this western lady.

And now the boys…

10. Jason Done
Tom Clarkson, Waterloo Road

He’s the bad boy that you know is a total flake and who you know will drive you batty with his self-destructive neuroses and hangups. Yet those baby-blue peepers are so entreating, so enthralling, you can’t help but stay just one more night. Jason Done was That Guy as teacher Tom Clarkson on the school drama, Waterloo Road. Ah, so dreamy. I never had teachers like him in school…

9. William Ash
Chrissie, Conviction; James, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

OK, on Conviction, he played a drug-addicted, murderous dirty cop. Not exactly sex-fantasy fodder unless you have a serious masochistic streak. But look at that face. Don’t you want to just cradle him and sing “Summertime”? (He played a much more tolerable, if equally cowardly, chap on A Midsummer’s Night Dream.)

8. Luke Roberts
Dan, Mile High

There’s more than enough manmeat to go around on a show like Mile High. There’s the muscle-hunk stripper, Ed; babyfaced lunkhead, Marco; scheming gay eccentric, Will; and yes, the hot, if overtanned, Daddy, Croker. Amongst that buffet of masculine delights, Captain Dan Peterson, the consummate pretty boy, stands out.

7. Spencer Claridge
Ed vs. Spencer

Ed and Spencer revealed some of the less flattering qualities of modern men as they sought to outdo each other in stunningly childish competitions. But in the battle of Who’s More Attractive to Women, it was no contest. Even when he was being pelted with balls of poo, we couldn’t resist the soft-spoken, poofy-haired dude with the pecs.

6. Colin Salmon
Headmaster David Tyrel, Hex

That voice! How can you not tremble when your hear that voice, which is one part James Earl Jones, one part Patrick Stewart, three parts sexy. Earlier this year, reports emerged that Salmon was in the running to become the first black Bond. While I’m sure the brother would have filled out those swim trunks quite nicely, thank you, we’re glad to have him grace our screens on BBC AMERICA. Now if only the forces behind Hex would let the man get a little nookie…

5. Ben Richards
Bruno, Footballers Wive$ and Footballers Wive$ Overtime

We know what you’re asking. Why no Conrad? We love Skipper Gates, but the bleached blond thing skeeves us out a bit. (Ben Price is a stone-cold fox with his natural dark hair.) No, the hottest toddy on Footballers Wive$ was also the show’s biggest arsehole, unrepentant wife-beater, Bruno Milligan. Knowing this, the Footballers producers wisely kept his nearly naked for most of the season. Yep, that’s enough recompense for me.

4. James McAvoy
Joe Macbeth, Macbeth

We’ve loved Mr. McAvoy since his Shameless days. But now that his star is rising, the Scottish actor is finally getting roles he can sink his teeth into. Late last year, he plays a naughty little goat-man (yum!) in The Chronicles of Narnia, and this year he’s commanding major Oscar talk for The Last King of Scotland. He also got a chance to play one of the Bard’s most anguished anti-heroes. As ambitious chef Joe Macbeth in the update of the play, he made us say, “Jamie who?”

3. Jamie Davis
Harley, Footballers Wive$; Leon, Hex

What do two of BBC AMERICA’s most popular dramas have in common? Yes, that would be actor Jamie Davis. Dare I say he’s the secret to both shows’ successes? As no-frills, upstart footballer, Harley Lawson, and cocky high-school jock, Leon Tyler, Mr. Davis provides a boyish, dimply charm that evokes a young Prince William (minus the receding hairline). And he looks good without a shirt, as evidenced at the right.

2. Sean Bean
Richard Sharpe, Sharpe’s Challenge

It’s not fair that Sean Bean becomes sexier as he ages. The man is pushing 50 and looks to be in the best shape of his life. After nine years, Bean returned to the his signature role of Lt. Richard Sharpe in Sharpe’s Challenge, and the actor was in prime swashbuckling form.

1. Michael Fassbender
Azazeal, Hex

This marks the second straight year that a dark-haired, blue-eyed bad boy topped our hottie round-up, and isn’t it easy to see why? With those glacial blue eyes and carved-marble jaw, could there really be another winner this year? I don’t know why/how Cassie waited so long to be felled by this foxy fallen angel. Fassbender has an angular face that may not look as alluring in still photographs–his bone structure is almost TOO fine–but is smoldering hot in motion. Those shots of Azazeal lurking outside Medenham, wind blowing in his mane–breathtaking.

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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.