Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Tall, Poldark, and handsome

My volume of the first two Poldark novels
Have you read any of the Poldark books or seen the 1970s telly programme? I’ve done both. The novels and the show both still have legions of fans, but while I enjoyed the stories and series, I’m not precious about Poldark, so I was interested to hear about the new production, but not massively excited for or against it.



If you’re not familiar with Winston Graham’s novels, they’re set in 18th-century Cornwall. In the first one, Ross Poldark returns from serving in the army fighting the American Revolutionary War to discover his family’s mine is making no money and his sweetheart Elizabeth is about to marry his cousin. The series is a long one, and throughout it fortunes are made and lost, feuds waged, people marry and have children and die. In a crude way you could say it’s Dallas crossed with Wuthering Heights. When I first moved to the south-west and was flat broke, I’d get a few of the books out of my local library and have myself a Poldarkathon at the weekend. Jolly good free entertainment. The books are easy to find secondhand, too.

The first Poldark novels were published in the 1940s and 1950s, but they didn't make it to television until 1975. The fifth novel in the series wasn't published until 1973, so perhaps the books' revival led to interest in making a television series. I wasn’t so taken with the 1970s programme, which I watched on video. It didn’t have the same subtlety as the book, and I always liked Ralph Bates, who plays Ross' great rival, George Warleggan, so could never quite see him as the greedy villain he was playing. However, Angharad Rees was massively popular as Demelza (an urchin Ross takes on as a servant, and later marries), to the point where some men in their 60s still get misty-eyed over her. Bit of a forgotten 1970s icon, there. My volume of the first two novels has Robin Ellis as Ross and Angharad Rees as Demelza gazing into one another's eyes.

This week the new programme has been filmed in Corsham in Wiltshire. I live in Wiltshire, and love the county, but can’t help wondering why they weren’t filming in Truro itself. We have different buildings here. Different local stone. We don’t have a coastline! I daresay some words have been said about it in Cornwall. And then I saw a photo of Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark on the Wiltshire Times website. AY CARAMBA. I’m rather keen to see the new version of the programme now...

6 comments :

  1. I think I read the books in the 80s but I can't remember much about them, and I didn't ever watch the TV series, so I'm coming to the new series with an open mind. Peter's boss kept tweeting about a visit to the Poldark Mine last week, which caused me a great deal of confusion until I worked out what he was on about! (No, they don't mine Aidan Turners down there, more's the pity)

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    1. I think you might enjoy them. I'm not normally into that sort of book (family saga/romance) at all, but they're very good.

      If Cornwall ever does get an Aidan Turner mine, I hope they start exporting!

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  2. I haven't read the books and have a vague memory of the TV show which my Mum and Nan watched. I am more than a tad excited to see Aidan Turner in the new version *swoon* shallow moi?

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    1. He is dishy. Should fill in the Musketeers-shaped gap in my viewing nicely.

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  3. I have to admit I've never seen or read Poldark! I shall look out for it at the car boot sale, I wouldn't mind a new boxset on these dreary wet evenings. P x

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  4. I have never read Poldark but I know my mum and my auntie were big fans and had all the books between them. I will have to see if they still do. AThe new series sounds interesting.

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