Image of Demelza Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson) at the Warleggan ball in Poldark (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd for Masterpiece PBS
Last week in episode 5 of Poldark everyone was reckless and bold—gambling on their future and love. Miner Mark Daniel married a questionable woman, Ross began a copper smelting company, Demelza played defiant matchmaker and Francis had a meltdown after losing his mine in a card game.
This week: The Pride and Prejudice Poldark edition. In which talk of frocks, balls and beaus resounds with sparkling repartees and retorts, echoing Jane Austen’s prose.
(there be spoilers ahead)
Francis (Kyle Soller) scythes. Image (c) 2015 Mammoth Screen, Ltd. for Masterpiece PBS
“You’ll never get it Ross.”—Francis Poldark
“Justice for all.”—Francis Poldark
“Fair wages would be a start.”—Ross Poldark
With the image of the shirtless and buff Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) scything his field in episode three still fresh in our minds, the scene of his cousin Francis (Kyle Soller) attempting the same sends an entirely different message. Moral fortitude vs. weakness has won the day. Taking the initiative and rebuilding your life has paid off for Ross. Will his cousin rise to the challenge? The omen that Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) foretold of the dark and fair Poldark, “The stronger rises as the weaker falls,” has flipped in the five years since Ross’s return. The only ammunition that Francis has left to wound his cousin is sarcasm and doubt. Continue reading
From the desk of Pamela Mingle:
If you’re like me, you are spending your Sundays killing time until Poldark lights up the TV screen. When I learned that Season One would be based on Winston Graham’s first two books in the series, Ross Poldark, and Demelza, I was determined to read them before viewing the adaptation. Although the episodes I’ve seen so far can stand on their own merit, reading the books has given me a richer understanding of the two protagonists. If Ross’s character functions as the moral compass of the story, Demelza’s represents the emotional heart of the books. Her struggle to be accepted as Ross’s wife makes us empathize with her, root for her, right from the start.
Demelza opens with the birth of Ross and Demelza’s baby girl. The new mother plans two christening parties, one for the country folk and another for the gentry. Trouble arises when her father, now a Methodist and wearing his religion like a cloak of righteousness, shows up on the wrong day and promptly insults some of the guests. Put in the uncomfortable position of defending his father-in-law, Ross must intervene. Demelza flees to the house, mortified. “…I thought I would show ’em I was a fit wife for you, that I could wear fine clothes and behave genteel an’ not disgrace you. An’ instead they will all ride home snickering behind their hands…” (51) Continue reading
Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), new dad, bad-ass miner and wavering lover.
Last week in episode 4 of Poldark the scandal mongers were in high dudgeon after the marriage of Ross to his kitchen maid Demelza, Uncle Charles’ death forced his son Francis to become more than a lawn ornament, Demelza Doolittle discovered that becoming a lady is hard work and Ross had an epiphany–he loves his wife!
This week everyone is RECKLESS AND BOLD—gambling on their future and love: Mark Daniel in his choice of bride, Keren; Ross in his new business venture, Demelza in her defiance, and Francis with his livelihood. The only person who is nonplussed is George Warleggan.
(there be spoilers ahead)
Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett), a player on more than just the stage, one suspects.
“I am undone: there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. ‘Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.” — Keren Smith as Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well
Two new important characters have entered the Poldark sphere: Dr. Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) and Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett). While Dr. Enys (in this screen version) is Ross Poldark’s (Aidan Turner) amiable army buddy arriving in Cornwall to study miners lung ailments, Keren is a seductive siren, an actress performing in a traveling troop who captures the heart of miner Mark Daniel (Matthew Wilson). Did any other Shakespeare fans recognize her soliloquy during the stage production? It is Helena’s lament for her love Bertram from All’s Well That Ends Well by Shakespeare—a very interesting selection for the screenwriter to choose. I will not say more, lest I spoil it for everyone. Mark agrees to Keren’s demanding terms for a marriage. He has four days to prepare a home for her or she leaves. Anyone read Why Men Love Bitches? She might have ghost written it. Just sayin’. Continue reading
“They like you.” proclaims Demelza to Ross. No kidding, sweetie!
Last week, episode three of Poldark began with Ross re-opening his family copper mine, Demelza catching his eye while dancing at a local villager’s wedding, Jim’s trial for poaching ending badly, and Ross, after a hellish day arguing with Demelza while trying to resist the temptations of the flesh, succumbing to said temptations, ending in their surprise nuptials. Whoa!
This week, as the scandal of their wedding rocks the community and sours Ross’s business venture, Uncle Charles joins the blessed above (or below), and Verity instructs Demelza on becoming a lady. A first Christmas together for Romelza is shared with the dreaded Poldark family at Trenwith, resulting in a revelation for Ross.
(there be spoilers ahead)
Prudie (Beatie Edney) and Jud (Philip Davis), servants of Nampara
“One minute she is skiverly scullery kitchen maid, the next she be Mistress High and Mighty.” — Jud
“Do you think it not as strange to me as it is to you? Do you imagine I ever looked for or expected it? Come to think of it, it is more your fault than mine.” — Demelza
“How be that then?” — Jud
“Tis you that raised me up and taught me all I know. So If I am fit for better than I hoped, blame yourselves for educating me.” — Demelza
The whole community is shocked by the news of Demelza and Ross’s marriage, including his caustic family, the scheming Warleggans (who smell a profit to be made from society’s prejudice), and the two Nampara servants, Jud and Prudie, who finally confront her. I just love how Demelza (clever girl) turns the sword around and points it firmly back at her former fellow servants while complimenting them at the same time. Touché! Continue reading
From the desk of Tracy Hickman:
Never having watched the original series on Masterpiece Theatre in the 1970s, I was unfamiliar with Ross Poldark and a little curious about the buzz surrounding the new BBC/PBS series starring Aidan Turner. I wondered whether there was more to Ross Poldark than his good looks. When Laurel Ann Nattress assured Austenprose readers that Ross was a hero every bit as worthy of their warm regard as Mr. Darcy, John Thornton or Mr. Rochester, I decided to read the first novel in Winston Graham’s saga and decide for myself.
Ross Poldark is subtitled “A Novel of Cornwall 1783-1787” and is strongly rooted in the geography, people, and events of the Cornish countryside. The wind and the sea figure as characters in their own right. In the book’s prologue, six months before Ross returns from fighting in America, his father Joshua is close to death.
He felt he would like one more look at the sea, which even now was licking at the rocks behind the house. He had no sentimental notions about the sea; he had no regard for its dangers or its beauties; to him it was a close acquaintance whose every virtue and failing, every smile and tantrum he had come to understand. (10)
One of the things I look forward to in period dramas is the costuming. For years we have been treated to fashionable Regency-era finery in Jane Austen adaptations, but the new Masterpiece Classic series Poldark takes us into an earlier era in British history. Set in 1780’s provincial Cornwall, the main plot line revolves around the Poldark family, their neighbors and their tenants—supplying an array of characters from different social classes. Curious about the late Georgian clothing in Poldark, I asked costume designer Marianne Agertoft to joins us today for a Q & A.
LAN: Welcome Marianne.
MA: Hi Laurel Ann. Thank you so much for your interest in the costumes for Poldark.
It was a great and passionate journey for all of us in the costume team and it is wonderful that the work is being appreciated.
Portrait of Captain George K. H. Coussmaker by Joshua Reynolds (1782)
LAN: From a layman’s point of view, being a costume designer looks like a very glamorous job. You get to spend your day being creative, researching history, playing with fabric, and working with celebrities! Can you share with us what your typical day was like while working on the costumes for Poldark? Continue reading
Ross! Just say yes to the dress, already!
Last week in episode two of Poldark we saw Ross and Elizabeth’s sexually charged dance at the assembly ball reveal their continued attraction, the wile Warleggans planting seeds of destruction and Demelza, cleaned up and earning admiration from her employer.
This week in episode three we witness two weddings and a scything.
Fair warning. This episode is packed with so many plotlines that even this most astute fan needed to take extensive notes. In addition (if you did not blink) we witnessed a mine opening, scurrilous gossip, two births, a near fatal heart attack, more scurrilous gossip, a court trial, accusations of sin, said sin actualized, and of course, more slithering on the sidelines by those dastardly Warleggans.
(there be spoilers ahead)
“Are the rumors true do you think? — Dr. Choake
“Well, he’s a damn fool if they are not.” — Horace Treneglos
Rumors are afoot in Cornwall. Captain Poldark may have employed the13 year-old Demelza with honorable intensions to save her from beatings and starvation, but society can only see the scandal in it. Are these comments telescoping what will come now that she is 17 and a beautiful young woman?
Rev. Odger (Jason Squibb) lays on the implied guilt to Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner)
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Heida Reed as Elizabeth Poldark
We were mesmerized by last week’s premiere of Poldark on Masterpiece. Even though it was a front loading fest—to get us up to speed on the characters and lay of the land—the energy and tension really propelled our interest (and admiring gaze) toward what promises to be a swash and buckle summer.
This week in episode two, Ross dances, George wiles and Demelza washes her hair!
BRIEF RECAP (there be spoilers ahead)
A scandalous suicide and closure of another mine shocks the community, bringing the dangers of running a mine close to home. Undaunted, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) is determined to reopen Wheal Leisure, his father’s derelict copper mine. After discussions with friendly banker Mr. Pascoe (Richard Hope), they are hopeful to acquire investors in the scheme. Ross asks his cousin Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller) to join him as a partner in his venture, but he is reluctant, surprised by Ross’s altruistic reasons for resurrecting the mine to help his tenants. In a rare moment of doubt, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) expresses concern to his Uncle Cary (Pip Torrens) of their culpability in the death of mine owner Lord Basset after not extending his loans. Continue reading
We wonder why tricorn hats went out of style. They were so commanding. In the 18th century, all the important men wore them: General George Washington, King George III, Catherine the Great, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and Captain Ross Poldark. POLDARK? Who is Ross Poldark you ask? Well period drama fans, if you don’t know who that is by now, let me tell you. After viewing the first episode of the new reboot of the eponymous BBC/PBS period drama Poldark you will never be puzzled by who this gentleman is again—only why you waited so long to make his acquaintance. He’s handsome. He’s brooding. He’s rebellious. He’s right there on your television screens for seven Sundays in a row this summer on PBS.
Masterpiece Theatre (now Masterpiece Classic) first introduced us to Cap’n Poldark in their landmark 1975 screen adaptation of author Winston Graham’s best-selling novels. The two-season, 29 episode series was a huge hit on both sides of the pond. Forty years ago English actor Robin Ellis filled those big, black boots. Teenage fan girls mobbed him like he was one of the Beatles. The show made him a star.
This time around the iconic romantic hero nonpareil is played by Irish actor Aidan Turner. Up until this point, he has played the trifecta of on-screen para-normal beings: a vampire (Being Human), a hobbit (The Hobbit) and a werewolf (Mortal Instruments). Could this strikingly handsome actor play the most complex romantic hero to grace our screens since Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester or Mr. Thornton? We shall see. Continue reading
It’s always a red-letter day to bibliophiles when books originally published eons ago get a new life and a new audience. It usually takes a major television series or movie for this to happen. In the case of Jane Austen, we have seen new tie-in editions for Pride and Prejudice in 1995 & 2005 and Sense and Sensibility in 1996. Just the other day I saw a beautiful new movie tie-in cover for Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd in my bookstore. A good story is a good story no matter what generation it is introduced to.
Now the Poldark Saga, one of my favorite historical fiction series, is up for a remake. Some of you might remember the wildly popular television adaptation entitled Poldark on the BBC and Masterpiece Theatre in the mid 1970’s. Robin Ellis stared as dashing Captain Ross Poldark and Angharad Rees as his fiery Demelza. The two season and twenty-nine episode series was based on the first sevens novels in Winston Graham’s multi-generational saga. Now the BBC and Masterpiece have created a new production of Poldark. It aired in the UK in March and April to critical and public acclaim, garnering up to 7 million viewers an episode. Happily, US audiences will spend this summer in Cornwall swashing and buckling with dishy hero Ross Poldark when Poldark begins on Masterpiece Classic on June 21. Continue reading
Sooner or later, everything that is old is new again—if we wait long enough! Masterpiece Theatre, and its phoenix Masterpiece Classic, is well-aware of this. Having successfully presented period drama for over forty years they have been a bit redundant at times. I lost track years ago of which version of David Copperfield we were on, so when I heard the news last year that the BBC and PBS were joining forces again to retool Poldark, one of my all-time favorites, I was jubilant. Enough time had passed to ride the Cornish cliffs with Ross Poldark again.
Based on the cherished historical fiction novels by Winston Graham, Poldark was originally adapted for the screen and presented in 29 episodes in 1975 and 1977. It was a sensation on both sides of the pond. Period drama fans still rave about it, including this one! As one of Masterpiece’s early landmark productions it remains the second best-selling period drama series ever created, only surpassed by the monumental Pride and Prejudice of 1995 staring Colin Firth. That is some pedigree.
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Heida Reed as Elizabeth Chynoweth
The new seven part series of Poldark premiers on Masterpiece Classic PBS on Sunday, June 21 and continues through August 2. After following the media frenzy as it aired in the UK in March and April of this year, and seeing the new series myself, I can share that period drama fans have the summer to fall in love with Poldark. I can assure you that it will only take about five minutes to be totally besotted. Continue reading
Jane Austen fans, hold on to your bonnets. The new BBC/Masterpiece screen adaptation of Poldark will air on Masterpiece PBS on June 21st, 2015.
Based on the beloved novels by Winston Graham set in 1780’s Cornwall, many period drama fans will be familiar with the first screen adaptation by the BBC and Masterpiece from 1975-77 staring Robin Ellis (Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility 1971). It was a huge hit on both sides of the pond and remains the second most popular drama series only behind the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.
This new eight part series stars Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) as rebellious Captain Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson (Death Comes to Pemberley) as Demelza, a fiery young street urchin who he employs as a kitchen maid at his estate. Airing since March in the UK to critical and public acclaim, the new series sports a beautiful and talented cast and high quality production. Filled with romantic, passionate drama and swashbuckling action, this new series introduces new viewers to an unique, swoon-worthy hero that will win the respect of fans of the original and the hearts of everyone. Here is a preview for your enjoyment.
Be sure to mark your calendars, follow #PoldarkPBS on Twitter for the latest updates and check back here for reviews of the novels and each episode after they air.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
Image and film clip courtesy of Mammoth Screen Limited for Masterpiece PBS © 2015