Poldark: Aidan Turner smoulders on the Cornish cliffs

Mark Reynolds

As the first season of the BBC’s sizzling Sunday night ratings winner draws to a close, viewers will have to turn to the series DVD for a regular dose of bare-chested scythe wielding, family intrigue and brooding romance.

Writer Debbie Horsfield and stars Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson have signed up for a second series – though dates for filming and broadcast are yet to be announced.

The series is the BBC’s second major adaptation of Winston Graham’s much-loved novels, after a gap of 40 years. The wild moors and rugged clifftops of Cornwall are the backdrop as Ross Poldark (Turner) returns from three years away fighting for the British in the American War of Independence. Wounded and scarred, he discovers that the great love he left behind and expected to marry, Elizabeth Chynoweth (Heida Reed), is now betrothed to his cousin Francis (Kyle Soller). Moreover, his father is dead, and the house, land and family tin and copper mines are in decline, but Ross thrusts himself into reviving the estate so that the workers that depend its livelihood won’t starve.

He also rescues the wraith-like Demelza Carne (Tomlinson) from a life of violence and penury, employing her as a kitchen maid before falling for her fiery charms and embarking upon a scandalous romance. A gentleman-rebel, Ross has every attribute of the romantic hero, from the tousled locks and chiselled torso to elemental passions that match the changeable nature of the landscape.

Lesser characters are multilayered and thoughtfully played. Below her cool surface, Elizabeth is as tormented as Ross by feelings they each proclaim to have long buried. Francis, too aware of his inferiority to his dynamic cousin, turns to gambling, whoring and drink. His prim and dutiful sister Verity (Ruby Bentall) springs to life with pent-up passions, while their father Charles Poldark (Warren Clarke is his final, poignant screen role) is an imposing taskmaster with a soft heart.

In a playful piece of casting, fans of the 1970s series can also spot the ‘original’ Ross, Robin Ellis, popping up in two episodes as Reverend Halse, judge and would-be nemesis of Ross as a despicable keeper of Establishment laws and codes.

Series One covers the events of the first two novels, and series two will pick up the same pace, depicting books three and four in 8 further action-packed episodes. With 8 further books to be quarried, covering a time span of a little over 20 years, this Poldark could run and run.

Order your Poldark DVD, starring Aidan Turner today

The original 1970s BBC series