When people talk about who they’ve fancied from the telly, the usual names crop up. Natalie Imbrulgia, Anna Friel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Aniston, Lynda Carter, Hayden Panettiere and the like. However, no-one can ever agree on such matters. Aniston switches me right off… and I know lads and lasses that wouldn’t touch Buffy The Vampire Slayer with a bargepole.

However, the more I think about it, the more I realise that the most fancied gal in TV history is a surprising one. It’s someone left-of-centre. It’s someone you might not expect at all. It’s Sara Gilbert. It’s Darlene from Roseanne. You may well be thinking “Shuddup, idiot,” but you’ve got to hear me out first…. because, this is definitely the truest thing you’ll ever hear.

First, an analogy. Everyone I know who likes hip-hop discovered the genre through De La Soul’s ”3 Feet High And Rising’. It’s the universal bond for people of a certain age. It still wins people over to rap who normally Hate That Sort Of Thing. Pretty much everyone I’ve met owns a copy of ‘3 Feet High And Rising’ or at least loves all the singles from it.

Now ‘3 Feet High…’ isn’t the best hip hop album ever made, but it’s probably the most loved. Darlene was the De La TV equivalent. For many, she was the hip, sarcastic who etched her name upon your heart but, unbeknownst to you, left a witty, abusive message on the reverse. She was the coolest girl in your town… despite the fact she lived thousands of miles away.

From ’88 to ’97, which just so happened to be hip-hop’s golden period in which ‘3 Feet High’ came out, Darlene was the pin-up for the sulky, wilfully misunderstood. That pretty much goes for anyone who has ever been a teenager.

What made her great for those who delved a little deeper was that she was great off-screen too… she wrote an episode for Roseanne and was considered so important to the show’s producers that they juggled taping schedules and storylines to allow her to study at Yale University while remaining part of the cast. She walked it and talked it and meant it.

I know loads of people who fancied her. Some openly, some secretly… many fancied her just briefly before moving on to Jessica Rabbit or some nonsense. But I’m willing to bet that every single person reading this (and not just men) will have had a moment where they looked at Sara Gilbert with puppy-dog eyes and a brief flutter of “Aaaahhh… she’s just great isn’t she?” You wanted to be her, or get with her.

She’ll never make a ‘Hottest Women On TV’ list, but on sheer numbers alone, I reckon she’s the most fancied woman in TV history.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1