Poldark - review: Ross continues righting Cornwall's wrongs one asthmatic miner at a time

Episode 6: Fans are yet to see the promised 'dark side' of Aidan Turner's hero

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The Independent Culture

Anyone else starting to root for the Warleggans? Or Francis? Or Jud and Prudie, for that matter? Before Ross Poldark came along, with his carefree attitude to shirts and his scar and his love of sunset walks on the clifftop, everyone was just getting on with their lives.

But now Poldark’s here (the Beauty of Bodmin Moor, Aidan Turner), swanning about inventing socialism and making everyone in Cornwall look bad. ‘Ross’ sighed Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), ‘you cannot fight all the world’. Oh but he can, Demi, and he’s flipping well going to until equal rights have been achieved for all. There’ll be no living with him.

We keep being promised that Poldark’s ‘dark side’ will emerge, and maybe it will, but right now we’re still bobbing about in a tidal wave of heroism and bloody-minded decency, as Ross rights Cornwall’s wrongs one asthmatic miner at a time. Presumably by series two he and Demelza will have opened a bunny sanctuary and founded the Co-op. On this occasion our flame-grilled leading man seemed to be losing himself in a dark hole, following the death of hapless young Jim Carter (Alexander Arnold), who’d been left to rot, quite literally, in Bodmin Gaol.

On a five day bender (looking for all the world like Jack White) and determined to cock some serious snook at the high society who he held accountable for the suffering of the poor, Ross disgraced himself at the Warleggans’ (Bankers! Boo! Hiss!) fancy ball by necking all the brandy and losing a series of increasingly heart-rending items at cards. His grandfather’s watch! Demelza’s new necklace! His share in the copper mine! I assume had there been a fourth bet he would have staked a lovely puppy with big sad eyes.

But, no! It was all a ruse and Cornwall’s own Gandhi/Superman was simply unmasking the card cheat Matthew Sanson (Jason Thorpe) and kicking sand into the faces of the cold-hearted Warleggans (Boo! Hiss!) at the same time.

Part of the problem with having such a saintly protagonist (yes, he has rough edges but he’s the troubled bad boy with a heart of gold) is that 18th Century Cornwall seems to be populated almost entirely by goodies and baddies. On one side are the good guys – Poldark, Demelza, kind-hearted Verity (Ruby Bentall) and the salt-of-the-earth workers. And on the other, the panto villains – the crass upper classes, the spiteful moneylenders, the heartless lawmakers, the stuffed shirts and the chinless wonders. Poldark might well be a more complex chap than I’m giving him credit for but in the face of that lot he’s a saint.

The silver lining is that all of Poldark’s raging against the (threshing) machine is bringing him more and more into opposition with the Warleggans (Boo! Hiss!) and they, ultimately, hold all the cards.

For those of you keeping tabs, Ross burnt his shirt on the beach, which meant he had his shirt off for a bit, even though it was probably quite cold.