After a year in which he's played a charming stripper, a devoted husband and a goofy, underachieving cop, Channing Tatum has been named to a prominent pop culture honour: People's "sexiest man alive."

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People magazine has chosen actor Channing Tatum as its Sexiest Man Alive for 2012. (People/Associated Press)

The celebrity magazine bestowed the annual title on the the 32-year-old actor, dancer, producer and former model on Wednesday. He will grace the magazine's cover for Friday's special double issue.

The Alabama-born actor said his first thought on hearing the news was: "Y'all are messing with me."

Known for his breakout role in the dance film Step Up as well as appearances in Stop-Loss, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Dear John, Tatum had a busy slate in 2012.

He promoted the commercial release of three movies — the male stripper tale Magic Mike, romance film The Vow and the comedy remake 21 Jump Street. He also worked on upcoming releases, including Foxcatcher and 10 Years.

Tatum has moved into producing films, including the documentary Earth Made of Glass, which he executive-produced with his wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum.

Tatum joins past People honourees such as Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon.

Along with Tatum, People unveiled other contenders on its 2012 list, including country singer-songwriter Blake Shelton, South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius and actors Damien Lewis, Richard Gere and Denzel Washington.

With files from The Associated Press