Poldark, review: Revolution is in the air as women fling mud in the eyes of the silly chaps

Episode seven: Hurrah for Keren Smith, Verity Poldark, Elizabeth Chynoweth and Demelza Carne for their uppitiness

Chris Bennion
Monday 20 April 2015 09:07
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Elizabeth Poldark née Chynoweth played by Heida Reed
Elizabeth Poldark née Chynoweth played by Heida Reed

If you were to create a Which Poldark Character Are You quiz (and someone probably has) I wouldn’t have to answer a single question to know who I’d be. Hunky Ross Poldark? Feisty Demelza? One of the horses? A wheezy miner? No, no. I’d be Jud. Good old Jud Paynter (Phil Davis), rambling about, quaffing his master’s fancy brandy, drunk as a toadstool, completely bewildered by everything that is going on.

If I’d been hanging about with the melodramatic Poldarks, Warleggans, Chynoweth’s et al, I’d stay drunk too. Confused, wretched Jud. Dependable Jud, like a sh*tfaced Labrador. He’ll never change. He’ll be pink and muddled and sozzled forever. I’m a bit vaffled by all the goings-on too, Jud. Cheers.

One thing that Poldark is capturing quite nicely is the sweeping social change that was beginning to happen in the late 18th century. Revolution is in the air all over Europe and the old order is beginning to worry just a tad about their place in society. The miners are revolting, sons of labourers run the banks and women (women!) are starting to get all uppity.

And hurrah for Keren Smith, Verity Poldark, Elizabeth Chynoweth and Demelza Carne for their uppitiness, flinging mud in the eye of the silly chaps. ‘What’s wrong with the women in this family?’ railed Francis (Kyle Soller) last week. ‘The men’ replied Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston). Quite.

However, this is the 1780s and the social order is being rattled more violently by nouveau riche gents, rather than frustrated wives and sisters. Poor Jud has no idea what to make of it all but he’s been turfed out in favour of a serving girl with ideas above her station and now a blacksmith’s grandson has become richer than any of the lords of the county. In among this week’s whirlwind of plot (in a nutshell, the s*** hit Poldark’s fan) the Warleggans’ plan came together quite spectacularly.

Jack Farthing has been a pleasingly quiet presence so far but his George Warleggan has been delicately turning the screws on everyone around him since Poldark barrelled into town. In an episode that saw a slightly silly double fights-broken-up-by-reasonable-women scene, the serene, hardnosed George is coming to the fore.

While the gentry flap and squawk, George is sitting back (not quite cackling but close) watching the money roll in. Francis, furious at the thought that Poldark has been helping Verity court Captain Blamey, is eating out of George’s hand, and Elizabeth’s head has been turned so far now she’s basically an owl.

In a series that still retains a goodies vs baddies feel (Poldark helped a murderer escape but it still felt quite wholesome) George Warleggan at least feels like a worthy adversary to Aiden Turner’s megalithic Poldark. Next week’s showdown promises to be rollicking good fun (I predict pistols, shouting and maybe some slapping). One thing is certain – life isn’t going to be the same in Cornwall for much longer. Not for Poldark, not for Jud, not for anyone. Tin’t fair.

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