A 3.5 metre statue depicting Colin Firth in his celebrated role as Mr Darcy in a BBC television series of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is on its way to Melbourne after its surprise acquisition by the National Trust of Australia.
The polystyrene giant is inspired by the scene where Mr Darcy emerges from a lake and bumps into love interest Elizabeth Bennet.
Variously known as the “lake scene”, “wet-shirt scene” or “Colin Firth gets his kit off scene”, it famously left women swooning over the brooding early 19th century character.
The sculpture, which previously sat in the middle of a British lake, perhaps leaves less to the imagination, with Mr Darcy’s chiselled torso clearly visible underneath his see-through white undershirt.
In April, rescue diving teams were called in to remove the dashing Mr Darcy from his watery home at Lyme Park. The estate featured as Mr Darcy’s home “Pemberley” in the 1995 mini-series and is now managed by Britain's National Trust.
Visitor experience manager Anthony Willder told the National Trust that Mr Darcy was still “looking good” despite spending eight months exposed to the elements..
“Unfortunately one of his fingers fell off, but I think that’s a small price to pay for having him back on terra firma,” Mr Willder said.
A spokesperson from Peak District Mountain Rescue said it was one of their more unusual jobs. “Mr Darcy was slightly bigger than the normal bodies we’re used to handling but everything went according to plan.”
The statue is now being shipped to Australia by the National Trust of Australia, which is paying for its passage after acquiring Mr Darcy from their British counterparts free of charge.
The National Trust of Australia’s Sharron Clark said Mr Darcy would take up residence in the lake at Ripponlea Tea House and Gardens, Elsternwick, as part of the organisation’s “Love, Desire and Riches” exhibition celebrating wedding couture from the 18th to 21st century.
Also on show will be a dress worn by Kate Winslet in the movie remake of another Jane Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, and the Alex Perry wedding dress worn by Kyly Clarke, wife of cricketer Michael Clarke.
The model of Mr Darcy was commissioned by broadcaster UKTV to launch a new drama channel in 2013, and is made of polystyrene and coated in fibreglass.
The National Trust said it took three sculptures more than two months to design, construct and paint the sculpture, which is as tall as a double-decker bus.
In 2013 the Pride and Prejudice wet-shirt scene was voted the “most memorable British TV drama moment of all time” in a survey ran by UKTV.
Visit www.nationaltrust.org.au/vic for more information about the “Love, Desire and Riches” exhibition, beginning July 1.