Monday, 28 September 2015

Radio Times Festival 'The Making of Poldark' Review

By India Rose

Poldark Panel Photo: Jade Victoria

At the Radio Times Festival, Eric tent, there was high anticipation, as 'The Making of Poldark' hit the stage, fronted by producers Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer, writer Debbie Horsfield, and son of Winston Graham, Andrew Graham. The panel was also joined by Ruby Bentall (Verity Poldark) and Beatie Edney (Prudie). 

One of the first clips shown, almost predictably, was that, somewhat infamous, scything scene. Questions followed, equally predictably, on Aidan Turner's physique.

Damien Timmer on this matter: "It originally wasn't a discussion about whether or not he would be shirtless... But then, when he was, we did stop and think 'Blimey - he's so muscly'... There were discussions about if he was too muscly."

Writer Debbie Horsfield had some interesting insights when asked - Did you know it would be big?
"The amount of love and care you put into a show is the same whether it's successful or not..." With producer Karen adding, "We were completely taken by surprise... It was nerve racking every time... Normally when a show goes out, you have to be begging for stories to go out about it - but our publicist was fighting them off! Despite the fact it was during the election."

Andrew Graham was asked about his reaction the first time around to the 1970s adaptation. It was an extraordinary hit then, but he was, "surprised to find it such a hit the second time." He then added "In regards to what my father would think, 1) he would be delighted with the way Mammoth treated it - would have loved the scripts - the publicity - but in terms of the shirtless scene... He would think that it only works like it does because of the story behind it, because it is a story of such romance and passion."

Who's idea was it to do it (Poldark) again? 
"I kept saying," said producer Timmer, "We should do a big Cornish saga... like Poldark... I kept saying it. Then one day, I said... Why don't we do Poldark? So... We persuaded Andrew it was a good idea to option the books - but then had them on the shelf for 6 months while we plucked up the courage to take them to Debbie to ask her to write it, who had never done an adaptation... We knew the idea of Debbie and this saga - Poldark is the ultimate saga - would be brilliant. We knew it."

Debbie Horsfield added: "It feels like in wonderful collaboration with Winston. I was nervous to begin with - they are not my charactersBut the moment I wrote the first line of non-Winston dialogue - I knew I could do it. The books are incredibly modern, so... I didn't have to invent them they're already there."

Andrew Graham also gave insight into his father's work: "I think that it was during World War Two when he began to conceive the Poldark novels. Everyone likes Poldark in Cornwall, in my experience, because he painted it as it was, not as a novelist would."

Debbie agreed, mentioning in particular the controversial subject of wrecking in Cornwalls history, "We address that there was no wrecking - we cover that in the first episode of series 2." Andrew then added that the people of Cornwall, as well as his father, were adamant that there was no purposefully wrecking caused by fishermen in Cornwall... But that, of course, if goods washed up on the beaches, they would take them. "When Ross says that if the pilchards don't come, the people will starve, he means it. They would starve.

Debbie added, "We address this from the last episode of Series 1 really... In the first draft, I wrote what, ideally, I would have wanted for the scene––I mean, in the book there are two wrecks coming in one after the other––but there was no way our budget would allow for that. So, I took the script to the production team and said, This is in an ideal world - now we can discuss what we can actually do... So, in the end, I rewrote the whole sequence so a lot of it is from Ross' perspective I deliberately rewrote it so its logistically achievable... I think we needed up calling it "Hell on a beach", which you can see in the sequence. Ross walks amongst people fighting, burning fires... I think it worked out really well."

Jamaica Inn was then addressed - known on the Internet as #Mumblegate - referring to when Jamaica Inn actors had been reported by audiences to be mumbling their lines. Damien Timmer agrees instantly "We were very paranoid about it, because we started shooting just a week or so after that happened... We were very on it," with Karen adding, "We had dialect coaches on set to look out for it.

One audience member commented on his love for the compositions and the music, and on that subject, Damien had this to say: "We spent a great many hours with [the composer] talking about what the music for Poldark should be... What she came up with... We love it... The thing about Poldark is that we, the people making it, are obsessed with it. but especially our composer. She came to the read through just because she wanted to hear the script, which never happens. She loves it that much. It's a good job we all love it because it's so time consuming."

Debbie added how the musical element of the programme was important to her as the writer: "We want to make sure the folk element was important... So, even though the words are from the the novels, the melodies were created... We made sure they were included... And Eleanor has such a lovely voice. There will be lots more music in the second series, of course."

When asked about the original series and why Winston Graham was scathing of the 1970s version, Andrew was clear that his father did not agree with changes that the BBC originally made, even adding, "He even tried to pull out of the contract a few weeks before."

Producer Damien added, "It's ironic because you'd think in the 21st century that producers would want to sex up the series - but in fact we wanted to scale it down I don't know why they felt to make those changes in the 70s."

Writer Debbie, when asked about if she had to add or change anything about the characters to make them appeal to a 21st Century audience, had this to say: "One of the challenges of a story that was written in the 40s, but set in 18th Century, is that a lot of the conventions of that time are not seen as acceptable in the 21st century... Elizabeth, we realised, can come across as quite cold in the books, for example. When it was cut all together we realised Elizabeth doesn't really punch through as a character. We kept asking... What is it about her that Ross loves about her? Why does he love her so much? Yes, she's his first love, but... We had to make her more proactive. We thought an audience would be thinking "What on earth does he see in her?" So, we gave her more depth, because that was the kind of this that would therefore help appeal to a 21st Century audience.

An exclusive video interview was played, as Aidan Turner was not able to make it to the talk. He agreed to pre-record some answers. The best of his answers, most definitely, had to be, when asked When did you know [Poldark] was a mega-hit? the actors reply was When journalists started calling my mum.

When asked if he had watched the original 70s version, Aidan had this to say: I could havebut I made a choice not to, very early onI just wanted to find my own Ross. I thought that might muck things up for meIt probably wouldnt haveand I dont why…” He then prompted added, Laziness,to laughs from the room. Of course I haveIve read the books. He looks earnest enough as he says this, but adds, Twice,and laughs. 

The interviewer then asks, Are their changes for the characters in the next series? Aidan responds dutifully. Theres a big journey for all the characters in the series. I think we cover about two years in the seriesTheres a lot of places to go––and I know the books are out there––but I dont want to spoil anything…” The interviewer adds, But does their [Demelza & Ross] relationship change considering Ross was in terrible trouble in the last episode?
Aidan: Yeah the relationship does change, like every relationship changes. You know, love changes. It evolves and progressesTheres a lot ofstuffgoing on in the second series.

When asked Will there be anymore scything in the next series?, Aidan smirks and squirms, putting on an almost Ross Poldark voice as he answers,I dont know the answer to that oneI suppose it depends how badly we need the ratings––God, what has my life become?

An exclusive clip from Series 2 was also played from last weeks on location shoot in Cornwall ––spoiler alert–– portraying a wary, ragged looking Demelza being hauled along by Ross' arm (Ross, no - I look like a ragamuffin!") and we soon see that they are in fact meeting Ross' recently estranged cousin Francis where he works in his wheat field, along with Elizabeth, their son, and other labourers. They exchange pleasantries and the scene then depicts an ancient Cornish harvest ceremony, as the first wheat sheath is collected.

What is most telling about this clip is that the dynamics between the protagonists have very clearly shifted. The last time we saw Francis Poldark in Series 1, he had banished both Ross and Demelza from his life. However, in this clip, he appears light and happy, now happy to work manual labour alongside his men, something he had refused to do time and time again in the first series. Demelza and Ross, however, appear off, almost like they had just argued. As Ross gazes across the field as they enter, the camera shot that follows is of an incredibly happy Elizabeth, waving to him - it becomes clear that Elizabeth orchestrated the reunion - and while Ross' gaze remains fixed forward, Demelza continues throughout the scene to gaze at him cautiously, as though almost on the outside looking in, every time he interacts with Elizabeth.

My personal favourite of these moments comes when he greets Elizabeth with a kiss to her hand, his gaze appearing perhaps a little to intense for someone who is not his wife, and all I could see in that shot was the steely, side-glance from Demelza at his side.

The performances in this one small clip work wonders, and promise the level of detail and emotional depth that has had us all hooked since the beginning of Series 1.

The Radio Times Festival was brilliant from start to finish, and hopefully they will continue this level of success next year and do it all again. We can but hope!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Radio Times Festival 'Poldark' Line-up Announced!

The panel for the Radio Times Festival 'The Making of Poldark' event has been announced!

Cast members Ruby Bentall, who plays Verity, and Beatie Edney, who plays Prudie, will join screen writer Debbie Horsfield, producers Damien Timmer and Karen Thrussell and author Winston Graham's son, Andrew, on the panel, according to the Radio Times Festival Programme.

 'The Making of Poldark' is on Sunday 27 September at 3.30 pm. Tickets can be booked here.

Thanks to @AidanTurner4evr for the heads up.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

'Poldark' to Return to Cornwall in March

Photo: James Churchfield

The cast and crew of Poldark will be filming in Cornwall for another four weeks before moving on to Bristol,  but they will return to Cornwall for more filming in March 2016. This was the news coming out of the 'Making of Poldark' talk at the Poly in Falmouth today according to @SuezanMaryie on Twitter.

Screen writer Debbie Horsfield told the audience at the sell-out event, that the weather had hampered shooting this Autumn, so they would return next year.

James Churchfield tweeted that Debbie had also had to rewrite some of the scenes.

Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Demelza, joined Debbie Horsfield and Andrew Graham on the panel and, afterwards, in signing books for fans.

Photo: @SuezanMaryie

Friday, 18 September 2015

Cornish Company to Produce 'Poldark' Merchandise

We're one step closer to some official Poldark merchandise as Cornwall based C & S Products announce they have acquired the license to manufacture official Poldark goods. Their products will include cotton bags, canvas bags, teatowels, aprons, cushions and cushion covers, hot water bottle covers, keyrings, letter openers, fridge magnets and mousemats. 

Amazon already have a pre-order page for their mugs with titles like Ross Poldark in uniform, Ross riding horseback through a field, Ross riding horseback by the sea, Ross at the harbour, Demelza, Ross and Elizabeth, Ross and Demelza, George Warleggan, and Francis Poldark.  The mugs cost £12.95 and are available from 1 October, 2015.  

While there no pictures available as yet, C&S Products do have these pictures on their site, which may be an indication of some the ones they are using.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Exclusive Aidan Turner Memorabilia in Charity Auction

Mammoth Screen have donated some Poldark items to the Production Guild Awards Auction to help raise money for the MAMA Youth Project.  The project aims to 'increase diversity in the TV and film industry and curb unemployment for young people'.

Mammoth Screen's lot consists of a Poldark series 1 DVD, a large poster, book and photos of Aidan Turner, all signed by Aidan.

Interested in bidding? Then don't delay. You've  just over 23 hours left to place your bid which you can do by following this link.   At the time of writing the next minimum bid was £150.00.

The Production Screen Awards 2015 will be held on Saturday 19 September and any bids placed online will be transferred to the live auction at the event.

Good Luck!

Friday, 11 September 2015

BBC Confirms 10 Episodes of 'Poldark' S2

The BBC has announced there will be ten episodes of Poldark  in Season 2, confirming the news given by Aidan Turner back in July.

In their statement the BBC says: This series, produced by Mammoth Screen, will consist of 10 episodes, all written by Debbie Horsfield and adapted from the acclaimed novels by Winston Graham.

The BBC also gives some exciting casting news, announcing that Hugh Skinner (W1A) will play Unwin Trevaunance and confirming the leaked news that Caroline Penvenen will be played by Gabriella Wilde (Endless Love) and Ray Penvenen by John Nettles (Midsomer Murders). 

Roll on Series 2!

John Nettles
Hugh Skinner

Gabriella Wilde

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Filming 'Poldark' II Begins

Filming  Poldark II has begun!

Yesterday, Official Poldark and BBC One posted a couple of tweets to start things off.

Then other news was soon coming in.

The director of episodes 1 - 4, Will Sinclair, had already been announced by Mammoth Screen but the clapper board in the photos told us Cinders Forshaw was back as director of photography. Cinders was DOP on Block 1 of Poldark S1. In addition, it's rumoured that Charlie Palmer will be directing some of the episodes. Charlie has a host of credits that include Death in Paradise, Larkrise to Candleford, and Doctor Who.

The cast were spotted filming in a field at Port Quinn. Ju Liet posted these pictures her friends had taken, on Aidan Turner Fan Page

'Poldark' Wins TV Choice Award

Pic via @beatieedney 

Congratulations Poldark!

Poldark was a winner at last night's TV Choice Awards collecting the award for Best New Drama as voted for by the public. Cast members Ruby Bentall (Verity), Jack Farthing (George Warleggan), and Beatie Edney (Prudie), received the award on behalf of the show. Jack thanked the public and said he hoped the viewers enjoyed watching Poldark as much as the cast enjoyed being a part of it.

Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson were also up for awards for best actor and actress respectively, but lost out to David Tennant and Sheridan Smith.

The award ceremony was held at the London Hilton on Park Lane on 7 September, 2015.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Pre-order the Official Poldark Calendar 2016

The Official Poldark Calendar 2016 is now available for pre-order from Danilo. It will be released on 21 September 2015 but here's a sneak peek at it!

The calendar measures 305x305 mm. It is available priced £8.99 with free UK delivery.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Tristan Sturrock Returns for 'Poldark' S2

Tristan Sturrock as Zacky Martin. Photo:BBC

Tristan Sturrock, who plays Zacky Martin in Poldark, is returning for season two. The Cornish actor told the Western Morning News that he would start filming on 14 September.

Season 2 of Poldark will be filmed through the autumn and winter.  Tristan said: "The makers of the show want the dark brooding side of the county."
"Last time we filmed in the summer it was beautiful. We didn't have rain and they even had to CGI clouds in as it was so sunny. There were a few backdrops where they wanted raging seas and instead the sea was beautiful, still and turquoise."

Talking about the success of the drama he said: "I have never done a piece of television that has had this sort of impact and it's brilliant to be part of it. We all thought it was good, but you have no idea what reaction it will get when you are filming it.
"You know there are a lot of faithful fans who loved the original series, so it could have gone belly up, I'm just so happy it took off.
"Cornwall got the chance to shine and it is wonderful to be involved."

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

'Poldark' Panel in Cornwall

Photo: BBC

The Poly at Falmouth is holding a talk on Poldark in September.

'The Making of Poldark' will look at some of the challenges of  bringing the Winston Graham novels to our TV screens. Screen writer Debbie Horsfield and consultant Andrew Graham will be on the panel and it is hoped that members of the cast and crew may attend (tbc).  The talk will be followed by a book signing.

 The event is hosted by Falmouth Bookseller with Pan Macmillan and Mammoth Screen Productions.

'The Making of Poldark' is on Saturday 19 September at 2.00 pm at The Poly, 24 Church Street. Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3EG

Book here: Tickets are on sale now priced £3.00