Bridget Jones's Diary author Helen Fielding created the man of many people’s dreams in Mark Darcy.
He may fold his underpants and lack a certain spontaneity, but the love story between Bridget and Mark – who is immortalised by Colin Firth in the film adaptations – is a classic of British popular culture. The mere mention of his name has us feeling protective over Renée Zellweger and humming the chorus to 'It's Raining Men'.
But could there be more to Mark Darcy than meets the eye?
We already know that there are obvious similarities between Darcy and the male love interest from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, who bears the same name and is also played by Firth on-screen.
Though rumours are swirling that Mark Darcy might be based on someone a little closer to home…
A former lawyer who, if the bookies are to be believed, might be leading Her Majesty’s Opposition in a few months time.
Yes, that’s right, people think that Fielding based Mark Darcy on Labour leadership candidate Keir Starmer.
Here's a young Starmer for comparison...
So how did this theory emerge?
What's the evidence?
A lot of the evidence surrounding this theory is circumstantial. The two men look vaguely similar, but if we look more closely at their career timelines, more similarities begin to emerge.
Merrick reports that, just like Darcy, Starmer made a name for himself taking on cases pro-bono. Starmer represented defendants in the McLibel case – a dispute between McDonald's and environmental activists Helen Steel and David Morris. Starmer has also been a defence barrister, just like Darcy.
Have Starmer or Fielding ever confirmed this?
According to Merrick, none of the parties involved have ever denied that this rumour is true. So that's something.
But just in case, we reached out to Starmer to find out whether he knows truth. He hasn’t responded yet, but if he does we’ll be sure to let you know.
For now, the mystery continues. And, if we're honest, we kind of like it that way.