Magazine article The Spectator

Television: James Walton

Magazine article The Spectator

Television: James Walton

Article excerpt

By my calculations, the remake of Poldark (BBC1, Sunday) is the first time BBC drama has returned to Cornwall since that famously mumbling Jamaica Inn -- which may explain why even the lowliest yokel here tends to project from the diaphragm. Leading both the cast and the diaphragm-projection is Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, initially seen as a British Redcoat in a wood rather unconvincingly captioned 'Virginia, America, 1781'. The short scene that followed efficiently established that he had a rackety past and some politically radical ideas, before the American rebels attacked, leaving several extras dead. Ross himself suffered injuries bad enough to bring on a severe case of flashback, as he deliriously remembered how he and a wild-haired woman used to run about the Cornish cliffs in slow motion while laughing a lot and swearing eternal love.

And with that, we cut to Cornwall two years later, where Ross's homecoming wasn't going terribly well -- what with his father being dead, the family estate bankrupt, the family tin mines flooded and that wild-haired woman not only immaculately coiffured, but also engaged to somebody else in the belief that Ross was dead. No wonder that for a while he stuck to a rigid regime of staring moodily out to sea.

The new Poldark has a strong supporting cast, including the much-missed Warren Clarke doing his gruff no-nonsense act one last time as Ross's Uncle Charles. Even so, at this stage, the programme appears to be pinning most of its hopes on Aidan Turner's sex appeal -- which, let's face it, is not an especially risky strategy. Certainly, Turner can brood with the best of them. He's also good at that thing women seem to like: constantly alternating between being nice and being horrible. It's a policy he applies to his servants (a married couple who bear a striking resemblance to Master and Mistress Ploppy, those jailers from Blackadder II ); to his old flame Elizabeth (who's apparently still pining for him -- not surprisingly, given that her fiancé might as well have the words 'Dull Dog' embroidered across his tricorn hat); and to Demelza, a local girl whom, during one of his nice phases, he rescued from some bullies and installed as his kitchen maid.

On the whole, the rest of the programme proved as efficient as that opening scene. The main characters were introduced, the historical background was deftly sketched in and there were at least two pretty decent fights. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.