News, Culture & Society

JAN MOIR: We’ll never see Cap’n Ross soaping up in his bath again

Yes, ME hearties. If thou hast tears to spare, prepare to shed them now into the briny sorrow of the unceasing Cornish waves.

For Poldark (BBC1) has ridden his last at last. The final series ended as the first began; on a clifftop drenched with sea spray and romance, with the future looking uncertain, the horizon looking unclear and the lead actors looking superb.

Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and wife Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) said their farewells as the salty wind ruffled their ringlets — but their love remained immutable.

‘Two beats, one heart, you can’t ask any more than that,’ said Demelza, but proving that in the next breath, actually she could.

‘Ross, you will come back?’ she begged last night.

WINDSWEPT FAREWELL: Demelza and redoubtable Captain Ross. The final series ended as the first began; on a clifftop drenched with sea spray and romance, with the future looking uncertain, the horizon looking unclear and the lead actors looking superb

CAPTAIN BEEFCAKE: Pass me the spyglass! Who is that hero a-scything topless on them there clifftops? In series one, Aidan Turner mows down any complaints about his debut as Captain Poldark.

CAPTAIN BEEFCAKE: Pass me the spyglass! Who is that hero a-scything topless on them there clifftops? In series one, Aidan Turner mows down any complaints about his debut as Captain Poldark.

SCULLERY SCANDAL: The whole of Cornwall tittered when Poldark married his pregnant kitchen maid, Demelza. But they had the last laugh by falling deeply in love

SCULLERY SCANDAL: The whole of Cornwall tittered when Poldark married his pregnant kitchen maid, Demelza. But they had the last laugh by falling deeply in love

‘I swear to you my love, I will return,’ he said, frock coat a-flutter as stalked towards the churning sea, preparing to sail off for some sort of new career as an international spy, destination unknown, mission no doubt impossible. The name is Poldark, Ross Poldark.

Maybe so, but in the name of salted pilchards, hasn’t this man done enough for king and country already?

Over five wonderful series Captain Poldark has been a veteran of the American Revolution, then a farmer, fisherman, mine owner, MP, husband, lover, father and topless scyther extraordinaire.

He has been on trial for murder, accused of treason, saved the King from an assassination attempt, seen his best friend hang and buried one of his own children.

Along the way he showed us he could thatch a barn, eat a syllabub, duel with swords or pistols, dance a gavotte and even save a damsel in distress should the need arise.

‘Which of us do not secretly adore him?’ cried his poor, doomed cousin Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller), way back in series two.

Which of us indeed? Though there were doubts in the beginning.

Back in 2015, the BBC knew it was courting controversy with a new TV adaptation of Poldark by Debbie Horsfield from the celebrated novels by Winston Graham. For the original series, first shown in 1975, was one of the most popular period dramas ever produced by the BBC.

CHANGE PARTNERS: ‘Good God, Elizabeth. From the moment I set eyes on you, no one else existed!’ says Ross to his former love. Now she is betrothed to another and the sexual tension is rising. Did a couple ever dance with such an air of danger?

CHANGE PARTNERS: ‘Good God, Elizabeth. From the moment I set eyes on you, no one else existed!’ says Ross to his former love. Now she is betrothed to another and the sexual tension is rising. Did a couple ever dance with such an air of danger?

WAS IT RAPE? Controversy in series two when Ross storms into Elizabeth’s bedroom and forces himself upon his cousin’s quaking widow. The BBC insist the sex was consensual, and so does Aidan Turner

WAS IT RAPE? Controversy in series two when Ross storms into Elizabeth’s bedroom and forces himself upon his cousin’s quaking widow. The BBC insist the sex was consensual, and so does Aidan Turner

THE WRONG'D WIFE: Beware the wrath of Demelza. In the Nampara yard, she floors her husband with a single punch for his unfaithfulness. That’ll teach him to mess with her

THE WRONG’D WIFE: Beware the wrath of Demelza. In the Nampara yard, she floors her husband with a single punch for his unfaithfulness. That’ll teach him to mess with her

Devoted fans like me worried that no new production could compete with the original, nor could any actors replace Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees, who were the perfect Ross and Demelza.

Yet this new Poldark surpassed all expectations and became a huge triumph in its own right.

Everything about it was fabulous. A crack cast, a wonderful script and an emotive soundtrack from Anne Dudley all helped to deliver a Sunday night classic that attracted audiences of around five million, and became a worldwide hit.

Last night Poldark came to a close with a pleasing air of redemption and vengeance; of scores settled and grudges finally unglued.

After spending every minute of every episode trying to kill him, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing, always marvellous) saved Poldark’s life and was the unlikely hero of the day — though many of us can never forgive him for what he did to Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston), who died of disappointment after he cancelled her 100th birthday party in series three. Rotter.

Yes, it was delightful that Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) had a baby while Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) and Dr Enys (Luke Norris) found love again. Yet the most moving scene was an unexpected one between the Poldarks old and new.

FRIENDS AGAIN: Demelza sponges husband Ross as he takes a tin bath in front of the fire. It is the viewers’ favourite scene from the whole of series two

FRIENDS AGAIN: Demelza sponges husband Ross as he takes a tin bath in front of the fire. It is the viewers’ favourite scene from the whole of series two

WEDDED BLISS? After much thwart, Caroline Penvenen and Dwight Ennys get married in series three

WEDDED BLISS? After much thwart, Caroline Penvenen and Dwight Ennys get married in series three

It was always a lovely touch that the original Poldark Robin Ellis was cast in the new version as cantankerous judge, Reverend Halse. And at last these captains had a scene together, when they seemed to say so much more than the words in the script.

‘Your servant, sir,’ said Young Poldark to Old Poldark.

‘And yours, sir,’ Old Poldark replied, as they smiled and bowed to each other. The baton had been passed. The race was over at last.

However, this final series was not my favourite. An unwelcome air of melodrama thundered in, louder than the horse hooves that forever galloped back and forth along the cliffs.

Even George, always a reliable fount of evil, began to struggle with his relentless nastiness.

Those bereavement therapy treatments from Dr Enys, involving essential oils and massage, dissolved his pale rage and turned him into a kinder man. The wonders of lavender oil!

And it was preposterous that if Ross was such a good spy, why he did not espy the spy a-spying in his own stable? Look behind you!

DEMELZA'S DALLIANCE: The squire's lady takes pity on the doomed Lieutenant Armitage, who is going blind and doesn't have long to live. They make love in the sand dunes, which is perhaps taking sympathy a bit too far

DEMELZA’S DALLIANCE: The squire’s lady takes pity on the doomed Lieutenant Armitage, who is going blind and doesn’t have long to live. They make love in the sand dunes, which is perhaps taking sympathy a bit too far

UNHOLY HIGH JINKS: There were a lot of bad hats in Poldark, but no-one topped perverted Reverend Osborne Whitworth (Christian Brassington). Viewers were horrified by his unforgettable – for all the wrong reasons - toe sucking scenes with a prostitute in series four

UNHOLY HIGH JINKS: There were a lot of bad hats in Poldark, but no-one topped perverted Reverend Osborne Whitworth (Christian Brassington). Viewers were horrified by his unforgettable – for all the wrong reasons – toe sucking scenes with a prostitute in series four

Yet as the curtain comes down on more than four years of Poldark fun, there is so much more to celebrate than to censure. He first appeared in a dashing swirl of cape, a tricorn hat atop his bible black curls, a thin scar running down his left cheek.

Under a thunderous Cornish sky, beneath a cloud of notoriety, a new Captain Ross Poldark had returned to Cornwall to reclaim his destiny — only to discover that his father is dead, his house is a wreck and his tin mines are derelict. To make matters worse, the woman he loves, thinking him dead, is engaged to marry his milksop cousin, Francis.

‘Good God, Elizabeth. From the moment I set eyes on you, no one else existed!’ he cries, but it is too late and he has to marry his scullery maid Demelza instead.

And so began this particular reincarnation of one of the most enduring and popular love triangles in modern British fiction. Until she died in series four, Elizabeth (Heida Reed) was a quivering beanpole in aubergine velvet, her pillowy lips trembling with suppressed desire for Ross.

She married the wrong man and had her lover’s baby, while flame-haired temptress Demelza luxuriated in an impeccable complexion and an air of sexual awakening.

ENDURING PASSION: Farewell my lovely. Despite their mutual indiscretions, Ross and Demelza never stopped loving each other

ENDURING PASSION: Farewell my lovely. Despite their mutual indiscretions, Ross and Demelza never stopped loving each other

NEW HORIZONS: Forever beset by troubles at home, moody Captain Poldark scans the skies for respite from his woes. Who knows what the future might bring for this cat in a tricorn hat?

NEW HORIZONS: Forever beset by troubles at home, moody Captain Poldark scans the skies for respite from his woes. Who knows what the future might bring for this cat in a tricorn hat?

Plotlines throbbed with passion, thwarted and otherwise. There was a controversial sex scene between Poldark and Elizabeth in series two. Was it rape? The BBC insisted it was consensual and, certainly, Elizabeth seemed quite thrilled afterwards.

Demelza later had an affair with Lieutenant Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) in series three. She only agrees to his pleas because he writes poetry and is going blind, but Ross is heartbroken when they cavort in the dunes.

Turner played his Poldark as a blend of Rhett and Mr Rochester, with a dash of Darcy thrown in. Moody and tortured, he gave tremendous good brood; among his millions of female fans, it did not go unnoticed. The Poldarks seemed cursed under a black moon, while the lumpy porridge of rural poverty was never far away. Ross was charged with plundering and murder. His mines were closed, his debts mounted, his baby Julia died of putrid throat.

God it was depressing at times.

But perhaps the most compelling element of Poldark was the eternal struggle of the soul; a good man trying to do his best in a bad world and his adoration for the woman at his side. Ross and Demelza. We could never get enough of their love story; their foreheads would touch like lovebirds, there was the imprint of his head on her pillow in the morning, the fact that she forever worried that she wasn’t a lady and ‘won’t ever be prinked up to the nines with her fizzle powdered’.

She spied on her Ross when he swam in the sea, she soaped him in his tin bath. And now, just like us, she has had to say goodbye to him for a very long time.

How will we all cope?         

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.