TV Review: Poldark

Damian Magee

Damian Magee is a West Australian writer and reviewer and a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society. He’s a life long fan of crime, sci-fi, anime, literature, history, biography, TV & films who has been writing reviews, non-fiction, & presenting seminars on these genres for the past 30 years. 

poldarkWhen I learned that the BBC was remaking Poldark, my first thought was that at last all 12 books could be filmed.  Winston Graham continued to write the series almost until his death in 2003.  The second thought was a hope that the new cast would suit the characters, as the last attempt in 1996 failed due to the miscasting of the leads, and because of the poor dialogue.

The first season of the new series is based on the first two books; “Ross Poldark”, and “Demelza”, comprising of 8 episodes. Due to the success of the series in the UK, the BBC has commissioned a second series, based on the next two books; “Jeremy Poldark”, and “Warleggan”.

The actors selected for the roles in this new series are excellent choices. Aidan Turner brings home a complex man who life has been shattered by war, lost family and  betrayal of love, who then finds family and love again with the help of Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza. Shot on location in Cornwall, the photography is just a delight on screen; the sun rising over the cliffs in the morning is breath-taking.

It was sad to see Warren Clarke die as Charles Poldark, Ross’ rich uncle, just as he did so quickly in real life. The other cast members seem to fit well into their roles: Heida Reed as the beautiful and hard done by Elizabeth; Kyle Soller as Francis Poldark (Ross’ cousin), who never lives up to expectations; but Jack Farthing as the new George Warleggan–the villain of the piece–still has a long way to go to fit Ralph Bates shoes from the 1970’s series. It’s also nice to see the original Ross, Robin Ellis, in a small role as Reverend Dr. Halse.

It is very hard for me not to jump beyond the next episode because I read all of the 12 books. The plot of series one is very close to the novels, apart from the first scene.  Set in America, you see Ross in his English uniform fighting the American Rebels, and receiving the wound that gives him his scar. Then the story changes to Ross coming home and finding his father dead, his home almost in ruins, his income gone, and his fiancée about to marry his cousin Francis, due to mistaken reports of his death.  Tension builds from scene to scene. Then Ross encounters Demelza, a scene lifted straight from the page to the screen.

Debbie Horsfield, a playwright and writer of BBC’s series Cutting It, does an excellent job on the adaptation of Winston Graham’s novels.  Looking forward, if the BBC and cast continue, we should have six seasons of the Poldark saga.

 

 

  • rosie1843

    The problem with the 1996 production was not recasting John Bowe and Mel Martin as Ross and Demelza Poldark. The problem was that it was adapting “The Stranger From the Sea”, which is not a very good book.

  • Thanks for your comment Rosie. I’l make sure Damian sees it. MDP

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