Tuesday 24 March 2015

The Times TV Review of Poldark

From The Times Monday 23 March 2015

More Gratuitous Nudity Please, We're Cornish

Everything was pointing towards Demelza's deflowering on Poldark last night. Literally pointing. The chimney on top of Ross's mine had never looked so priapic. A candle jutted rigidly from a fly-hole in a stone wall. The flowers in the meadows opened yearningly towards the Sun. At home, Demelza, unable to get into her master's pants, made do with getting into his secret stash of women's clothing. (What a thoroughly modern hero this Poldark is, cross-dressing and all.)

The moment when it came was as brief and precipitous as the wedding ceremony that followed. I cannot decide whether this serial's adaptor, Debbie Horsfield, is a prude or a tease but Poldark is the first series to my recollection that gets complaints about the lack of gratuitous nudity.

Last week, Ross strode into the sea for all of ten seconds, exposing nothing but his back. What amounted to the money shot last night was Ross in the fields with a scythe. Aidan Turner was revealed, as was said of Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah, to have bigger breasts than his leading lady. If you didn't see them, The Times runs a still most mornings.

Only a heterosexual man can say this, but here goes: while Poldark is a ratings success and a publicist's triumph, it is also a weekly compilation of visual cliché (Poldark riding a horse, again), laborious plotting and unlikely, Ed Miliband-ish industrial politics. Does anyone, anywhere, actually care whether Ross's mine is a success or not? Does anyone believe that Elizabeth and he were ever destined for each other? Were Phil Davis's talents ever more wasted?

Without the beauteous Turner, feral Eleanor Tomlinson as the highly strung Demelza (in another age, Poldark would check up her sleeves for signs of self-harming) and Cornwall, this show would have nothing. With them, it all amounts, I concede, to more than enough. That said, Sunday's episode was stolen by the original Poldark, the semi-retired Robin Ellis, as the unsympathetic judge. What a loss to character acting he turns out to be.

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