Poldark review: Aidan Turner’s protein-rich hero is starting to verge on parody

Times are tough in the land of golden sunsets and sun-kissed cornfields

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The Independent Culture

Appropriately for Easter Sunday this week’s Poldark ended on a note of resurrection, with the impossibly handsome couple Ross (half-man, half-wolf Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson – the girl from Brave made flesh) hoping to ‘rise again’ and the hapless Francis (Kyle Soller) promising that his mine isn’t closed for good.

Times are tough in the land of golden sunsets and sun-kissed cornfields but the folks of 18th Century Cornwall need not fear. Poldark is the closest thing to Jesus Christ they’ll ever see.

In fact Aidan Turner’s protein-rich hero is beginning to verge on parody, so upright and morally dazzling is he. When he’s not marrying waifs and strays, he’s giving hope to the poor, sticking it to ‘the man’ and defending the characters of literally everyone. ‘I will make the world a better place for her’ he said of his new born daughter Julia. He’s really not kidding. I assume once he’s redistributed all the wealth he’s going to discover germ theory and free the slaves.

The other side of the Poldark coin is, of course, cousin Francis. ‘My wife tries to make me a better man. I will never be that man’ he told the local prostitute Margaret (Crystal Leaity). Instead of attempting to measure up to Poldark, Francis – who has presumably read a few superhero comics in his time – is instead becoming his opposite. Dishonourable where Poldark is principled, reckless where Poldark is level-headed, ginger where Poldark is beautifully raven-haired. Not content with gambling away the family silver, Francis went and lost the family mine at cards. Kyle Soller deserves a mention for excellently portraying the dewy-eyed patsy, so woefully out of his depth, in the face of Aidan Turner’s raw steak.

 

Also suffering from comparison are Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Demelza, who see in each other what they lack themselves. ‘Perhaps you’d like them both?’ it was suggested to Poldark. ‘Perhaps I would’ he replied, in a manner that hinted he’d given the matter quite a lot of thought. Elizabeth’s jealousy of Demelza runs deeper than the love of Ross Poldark, however. Watching Demelza make a simple keepsake for her baby daughter, Elizabeth understood that no amount of riches or standing in society was going to make her happy. She, like Francis, will never possess the simple, wholesome, probiotic life that Demelza has.

The supporting cast are doing a thoroughly decent job of stopping this entirely becoming The Ross Poldark Show and no one more than Ruby Bentall as the dowdy (by comparison) Verity. Verity is filled with the boredom, longing and ruddy-cheeked decency of a Bronte heroine and her (probably doomed) relationship with the iffy Captain Blamey (Richard Harrington, keeping us guessing nicely) is a palette-cleansing subplot that takes our attention away from the ‘beautiful people’ for a moment or two.

For those interested in this kind of thing, Poldark kept his clothes on this week.

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