So, about three weeks ago, a mate of mine mentioned that he had caught an episode of Poldark on the Beeb the other day and that it was just terrible.
Then, a fortnight ago, this same mate pointed out that there was a new series, called Poldark and it was the worst sort of bodice ripper.
Last week, my mate out rightly asked me to start watching Poldark as he thought that I’d enjoy it and he was just HOOKED.
Three episodes in and it’s just glorious. A shining steaming pile of crap that I find myself utterly addicted to!
Ross Poldark returns to England after fighting in the American Revolution. His family and friends thought he was dead. The woman he hoped to marry is now engaged to his cousin. His father is dead, and the property he has inherited has been allowed to deteriorate. It is the late 1700s in Cornwall, England. This is a family drama, but is also about the challenges and conflicts between the rich and the poor. It is a time when fishermen are not catching much fish, tin and copper mines are closing down because prices are too low, but the price of food and rents are high. Ross faces the challenge of making his land productive, caring for the tenants who rely on him, and trying to win back the woman he loved – or finding a reason to live without her.
This is not the BBC at its best. This is not on a par with the superb 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice that made Colin Firth a household name – the sets are neither as impressive nor as meticulously authentic. Though closer in terms of subject to the 2004 version of North and South; Poldark never quite manages to maintain the same build up of tension and anticipation.
This is much more swashbuckily.
Much more raunchy.
Much more ‘lets-build-up-tension-across-three-minutes-and-then-have-them-act on-it…by-getting-their-kit-off’.
The show itself is pretty good. Upstairs and down are well represented. There is a not terribly subtle social commentary on the treatment of workers and women (which frankly makes a nice change. Also – Ruby Bentall is simply enchanting as the much maligned Verity). Our intrepid hero is not only all moody and dramatic; he is also honest, choc- full of integrity (if you ignore the smuggling that got him expelled from the army) and actively works to better the lives of his tenants. Occasionally this involves…threshing of …wheat…or other grain based foodstuffs while totally, utterly and completely topless. Out of the goodness of his heart.
The Cornish setting is just gorg and clearly every effort has gone into ensuring that the audience doesn’t get bored. The pacing is just MENTAL. Months fly by in the blink of an eye – a character announces a pregnancy in episode 2 and is a mother by the mid-way point of the third. This is actually a huge mistook. Aside from rushing the various situations, actions and consequences, I would argue that it is – after all – the build up and will-thy won’t-they that we period drama aficionados can’t get enough of. Mind you, that’s the same argument that I had with season 2 Downton Abbey and that became completely turgid and self obsessed by its third.
Aidan Turner takes on the titular role – that of Ross Poldark. Turner has been a delight to watch over the last several years (Being Human, The Hobbit, Desperate Romantics, The Hobbit) and it’s terrific to see him in such a prominent role and receiving acclaim! Demelza is played by Eleanor Tomlinson as all light and music and joy – a terrific heroine that just about manages to avoid the manic pixie dream girl trope. In supporting roles are veteran actors Phil Davis and Beatie Edeny, who provide not only local colour and flair, but also the comic relief portion of the show.