TV's 10 Greatest Moustaches (Not Including Tom Selleck)

Cops, robbers, a psychotic prison guard and a potty-mouthed saloon owner all feature in this tribute to the not so humble lip slug....
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Cops, robbers, a psychotic prison guard and a potty-mouthed saloon owner all feature in this tribute to the not so humble lip slug....

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Face it fellas, the only real reason for Movember’s success is that it supplies an annual excuse for men everywhere to grow long-cherished moustaches under the guise of doing their bit for charity, and gives us the chance to comb our minds for this collection of first class face ticklers.

Poirot

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When David Suchet finally hangs up his homburg this Christmas, he’ll have played Poirot’s moustache for over twenty years and seventy epsiodes. Widely regarded as the definitive Poirot, Suchet’s success is in no small measure down to his impeccably groomed lip garnish. Slicked smooth with wax, Poirot’s moustache may resemble an ornamental slug but its unmistakable fussy precision defines its owner. Neat, fastidious, almost impossibly anal, it reflects the Belgian detective’s fastidiousness and fussiness and suggests a morning routine that even murderous yuppie Partick Batman would label ‘a tad extreme’

Yosser Hughes

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Gissa stosh. The epitome of the downtrodden Scouser in the 80s, Yosser’s moustache, played by Bernard Hill’s moustache, was an unkempt, bushy number with, appropriately, slight downward inflections on both sides. It embodied an age of men standing around flaming braziers while wearing donkey jackets. Another sad victim of Thatcher, such moustaches now only found in archive footage of the miners’ strike

Ned Flanders

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If moustaches could sing (and, as Freddie taught us, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t) then Nedward Flanders’ would be gently trilling Kumbaya. Safe, anodyne and faithful, like an evangelical Volvo, Ned’s delta-shaped lipfuzz is the most dad-like on the list. Perfectly groomed and constant, it is a symbol of the peaceful contentment of the perennially nice guy and stands in firm contrast to the anarchic five o’clock shadow of his rather louder neighbour.

Basil Fawlty

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A symbol of authority on the lip of a man who had lost every claim to it, Basil Fawlty’s moustache and, to a lesser extent, Fawlty Towers itself, was all about class. In an effort to prove his social worth, the gangly hotelier wrapped himself in ever more farcical situations while trying to curry favour with his betters, such as Major Gowen.  Of course, Fawlty was a military man himself, he boasted of killing four men in Korea (‘He poisoned them’ insisted his wife, ‘he was in the Catering Corps’). The moustache itself was standard military issue, straight across the top with no fussy adornments, the only thing over which poor exasperated Basil had any control. Examples may still be found in British Legion bars up and down the country.

Eddy Caplan from Braquo

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The second continental entry on this list goes to another native French speaker. Eddy Caplan, played by Jean-Hugues Anglade, leads his team of Parisian badasses while sporting a ferociously choppy affair. A busy schedule of ragging round Hauts-de-Seine murdering suspects, stealing evidence and sleeping with swan-necked French women means that Caplan frequently lets facial stubble come close to eclipsing his magnificent moustache. Not quite though, and the hangdog fuzz remains, even though it bears a worrying resemblance to that other Gallic hardman, Asterix.

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Jimmy Beck from Cracker

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The world of rozzering changed in the 1990s but Detective Sergeant Jimmy Beck hadn’t got the memo. His status as a throwback made it difficult for him to get on board with the then new trend of profiling crims and trying to understand their motives but it also meant that he was a little bit behind on the identity issue of fashion. Taking the opportunity to taunt a suspect about his homosexuality, he has it pointed out that he’s ‘the one with the moustache’. He’s next seen, clean shaven, claiming that he’d got rid of it to prove that he had nothing to prove. Poor show James.

Des Lynam

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His recent overtures to UKIP may have lent him a hitherto unexplored Alan Partridge quality but, we assure younger readers, that during the 1980s, Des Lynam was the epitome of cool composure. Marshalling Grandstand with consummate ease, Lynam’s moustache supplied him with so much televisual gravitas that he, and his magnificent moustache, could even withstand his appearances in some appalling mid 90s adverts for antiperspirant. Your move, Kamara.

Walter White

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Coming in at three, the best example of the Establishing Character Moustache. It’s possible to track Walter White’s entire dizzying character arc by examining the state of his facial hair. When we first meet him, aged 50 and miserable, he wears a sad little moustache that Bryan Cranston described as both ‘impotent’ and ‘like a dead caterpillar’. Such descriptions, while accurate, only go so far in portraying just how pathetic it is. It’s a moustache that has frankly just given up, whiskers that earn the wearer the justified mockery of his neighbours and warrant a bored, functional hand job on his birthday. It’s only saving grace is that its nearest British equivalent, Ian Beale’s gappy 90s effort, is worse.

Al Swearengen from Deadwood

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In 1870s Deadwood there are no laws at all. Except one. For the fellas, facial hair is compulsory. The cast offers a range of styles from Brom Garrett’s pencily effort to Wild Bill Hickock’s magnificent houndlike whiskers. It is, however, Al Swearengen who takes the crown. Thick, solid and with a couple of evil points at the ends, Al’s moustache is the perfect punctuation to a stream of colourful obscenities, threats and commands. Having seen its wearer through repeated trial and threats old and new, Al’s is, above all, the moustache that says bad motherfucker.

Pornstache from Orange is the New Black

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His name is Correctional Officer George Mendez. To the inmates he controls, exploits and, more often, is exploited by, he will remain Pornstache. And why? Just look at it. Sure, it might look like a real-life Flanders special but it’s so much more than that. One of the few men in an environment of women, the Pornstache is an avatar of masculinity. Just hear his protests when it’s suggested that his hairy lipwear has a touch of lavender to it.  ‘It's for fuckin' men. It's fuckin' all beef. Fuckin' cunt-rammin' awesome.’

And there you have it. The perfect excuse for growing one of your own.