I didn’t really get Aidan Turner as one of the thousand dwarves in The Hobbit, the prosthetic features kind of threw me off. But suddenly, Poldark dropped on BBC One. And I get it. But before you write me off as an excitable fan-girl, this show is great. More substance than a Jane Austen adaptation, less characters than Downton and some (lots) of beautiful shots of the Cornwall scenery, this is British Sunday night TV in all its glory.
And yes, Aidan Turner is appropriately brooding, buff, and inexplicably bronzed, but the story, ooh, it hooks you. It starts with war, then unrequited love, then poverty, death, new love, fortune, loss – it’s the complete package. The eight-episode series is now half way through and the pace of the plot isn’t slowing.
The gist of the programme – if you’ve previously given it a miss, you fool – is this; Ross Poldark returns to his native Cornwall after fighting in the American War of Independence, with a new battle scar and some Home Truths for his stuffy family. Essentially he’s a socialist now, loves the poor (because he’s kinda poor too now), work and bread for everyone, down with the landed gentry (despite also kinda being a gentleman too), etc. Except from he really came home for the love of his life, a chiselled woman with nice hair called Elizabeth. BUT (spoiler) she’s about to marry his flimsy cousin, but after a couple of tankards of ale and a few outbursts, he gets over it. Because he’s got a new maid, previously unwashed but now model-esque Demelza who looks like a wildling from Game of Thrones. Cue a beautiful, class-based love triangle with copper mines thrown in to add a bit of spice.
It’s strange that we still have such an appetite for these dramas; Poldark was first a book, and is now a remake of the original series first broadcast in the 1970s, but our love of period drama is perhaps stronger than ever. Downton Abbey, Death Comes to Pemberley, Jamaica Inn and Great Expectations are all modern interpretations of classic stories by the BBC; whether it’s simple romantic escapism, nostalgia of a national identity long since gone, or historical interest in the country’s past lives, we love a period drama. And Poldark is soon to join the ranks of boxsetted, Netflix-able, US-exportable BBC offerings.
The first four episodes of Poldark are now on BBC iPlayer – binge watch with your Easter egg, I say.