Unless you are a hermit without a TV (or indeed, the internet- in which case kudos for reading this ) you have probably heard of the BBC’s latest bodice filled blockbuster. If, like me, you were not around for the original Poldark, the adverts promised a very serious series, full of brooding, blood and dark menace. In short Wolf Hall, but with more curls and fewer candles.
The reality was somewhat different. What was billed as ‘gritty’ was actually a cross between an 18th century soap opera and a village pantomime; lots of posturing, grand gestures, and snarling. At one point to show she was overwhelmed Elizabeth, Poldark’s fickle former love, stood up clutched her hands to her chest and then sat down again, a case of basic melodrama 101, and laughable rather than emotive.
Poldark himself did supply the promised brooding quota, even if his suspicious scar made him look more like a glam rock wannabe than a loveable veteran scoundrel. Certainly he is well shot of his former love- not only did she switch allegiance to his weakling relation before his body was thought cold, but, more importantly, she is portrayed by an actress who appears to have forgotten how to act. Bambi eyes and heaving bosoms do not a heroine make. Thoughts must appear to be present in the pretty little head for the performance to be credible. See Eleanor Tomlinson’s Demelza for an example. Gutsy but vulnerable, quiet but brash, and she brings along a rather adorable four legged friend- quite the perfect package.
Questionable wounds aside Aidan Turner not only gets housewives a little hot under their aprons but CAN act, thankfully, otherwise the show would have to be renamed Demelza and that would rather confuse the 70s fans. The script veers towards the ridiculous, but with commitment in his delivery you find yourself laughing with the character, as opposed to at him.
The real star here might not be a ruggedly handsome war hero, but rather the ruggedly appealing Cornish coast, which along with the billowing-sleeved and corset-waisted costumery makes for a rather pleasing aesthetic.
I will be tuning in next week despite the broken promise of deep dark grit; not just because I am a sucker for a costume drama (well who isn’t) but because soap opera it may be, but it’s a soap opera with style