Sue recently reminded us that she’d had her eye on Aidan Turner long before he started a trend for topless scything in the new series of Poldark. I’m enjoying watching it, and Aidan Turner is undoubtedly very pretty, but I’ve long had a soft spot for the original (and the best, certainly in terms of scar make-up) Robin Ellis.
I’ve fond memories of some of the 70s TV dramas. My parents watched all of them – The Duchess of Duke Street, Bouquet of Barbed Wire, The Onedin Line and The Brothers. I wasn’t allowed to watch the ruder ones, but I was permitted to watch Poldark and The Duchess of Duke Street. That was also fab actually – and, along with ‘Duchess’ Gemma Jones, it also starred the delicious Christopher Casanove – married in real life to Poldark 1’s Demelza, Angharad Rees (during the process of searching for suitable photos for this, I was sad to discover Rees and Casenove have both died in recent years).
One of the reasons I loved the original Poldark series so much (apart from the fact that Winston Graham’s novels containing much that makes for great drama – fantastic 19th century Cornish setting, complicated family rivalries, dangerous tin mining, pilchard catching, smuggling and inter-class lust) was the on-screen chemistry between the gorgeous Ross, as played by Robin Ellis, and his serving-maid-turned-wife Demelza. Red-haired Rees sparkled on screen. She was tiny but utterly charming, feisty and enchanting.
Now, as grown-ups, we know those who appear as sexy brooding types actually make hellish husbands. But, back then, velvet ribbon tying back his auburn locks and face as rugged as the Cornish rocks he galloped past, Robin Ellis captured all that seemed romantic in a troubled officer, presumed dead, returning from war to find his beloved betrothed to his cousin. Then there was the attractiveness of his social conscience, in sharp contrast to the greed and selfishness of his peers and relatives, as he struggled to provide a living for the impoverished workers on his land, never afraid to roll his beautiful white cotton sleeves up and work the land and the mines (not that he ever had to get the stains out of his own laundry of course).
Much has been made of Aidan Turner’s sculpted chest. I was amused to see in an interview with current Demelza, the beautiful Eleanor Tomlinson, her referring to all the attention being paid to Turner’s bare chest by saying: “of course he works very hard at it”). Sadly there’s no chemistry between Turner and Tomlinson. His chest is indeed very impressive, and it does look like he spends hours in a gym. But I think he looks too pretty – more underwear model than soldier. And his scar is frankly the silliest I’ve ever seen. It looks like he put on eyeliner, pissed. In fairness, something we’ve all done, obv.
I am enjoying watching the current Poldark. Cornwall is a stunning setting. The story and characters remain compelling, all of the actors are good, and I’ve always loved Phil Davis. But Robin Ellis (who appeared in the second episode of the new series as the nasty judge who sentenced the poacher to imprisonment) will always be the best Captain Poldark for my taste. To me at least, he seems to have more substance about him, and he’s an excellent wearer of knee high leather boots.