Monday 18 April 2016

RTS 'Anatomy of a Hit' Poldark Panel

'Would women find Aidan attractive?' was one surprising revelation from the Poldark Panel at the Royal Television Society's Anatomy of a Hit last Thursday, but there were plenty of other interesting snippets to be had too.  I'd expected an evening of some, now familiar, stories of the writing and production of the show, but the addition of composer Anne Dudley and actor Jack Farthing to the panel brought some new insights, of which Anne's story of executive producer Damien Timmer's question about Aidan Turner was only one. But more of that later.

As you'd expect, writer Debbie Horsfield continued to have a lot of input into Poldark as it was being made and, although she was not on set as much for the filming of Series 2 as she had been for Series 1, she was always pleased to receive telephone calls and e-mails from the actors about their characters. Jack, in particular, often emailed her. Debbie said she was looking at books five and six in case Poldark is commissioned for a third series. Interestingly, this was the third time in a week I'd heard people involved with the making of Poldark talk about Series 3 in this way - the others being Jack Farthing and Robin Ellis - and it made me think everyone was on message after Aidan's gaff earlier in the year about starting to film S3 in September.

RTS, Poldark Panel, Title
Anne Dudley told of how keen she was to compose the soundtrack for Poldark so persuaded her agent to get the scripts, how she composes at the piano and how she finds abstract themes more useful than ones for characters. She said that, in the theme tune, the piano represents the waves and the lone violin represents Ross standing out against his upbringing.

Jack Farthing initially auditioned for the role of
RTS, Poldark Panel, George Warleggan. Jack Farthing
George Warleggan by PoldarkTV
Francis and took some persuading to see himself as George Warleggan.  He said that as George's appearance is so important to him, the actual process of make-up and costumes helps Jack get into the role of George prior to filming. Jack himself is extremely affable and I'm sure he made a few new fans in the course of the evening.

Mammoth Screen held the rights to Poldark for some time before they started to produce the show and it was interesting to learn from Damien Timmer that he was in contact with Aidan Turner's agent for several months before Aidan was offered the part.

Understandably, producing a big hit like Poldark doesn't mean there aren't anxieties about the second series and there's certainly no complacency here.  Both Damien and Debbie described the thought of the new season as 'daunting' and Jack called it 'a nice scary'. Anne Dudley's story of how Damien Timmer checked with her that women would find Aidan attractive was met by the audience with a mixture of laughter and stunned disbelief but really it gives a good indication of the level of anxiety that producers of shows go through.

RTS, Poldark Panel, Ross, Demelza, Let it be true
Photo: Poldark TV
Oddly enough, one of the highlights of the evening was the screening of four clips from Poldark S1. Almost certainly all the audience had seen the show and most will have watched the DVD - probably more than once - and yet the power of seeing the clips on the big screen was breathtaking. It was particularly noticeable with the 'let it be true' clip where, as it ended, the stillness of the audience was perceptible. I was sure everyone was holding their breath.  Debbie said this scene was so important that she gave strong directions in the script for each movement and every sound.  Debbie chose this clip while Jack selected the scene where Ross reveals Sansom to be cheating at cards and Anne chose 'Resurgam'. Damien's clip was Demelza singing at Trenwith at Christmas and he revealed that, admirably, this was the very first scene Eleanor shot. Such was the pleasure at seeing these clips that one can't help hoping that Mammoth Screen will put on a Poldark Marathon at a cinema and show all eight episodes on the big screen before the start of Series 2!

Finally, just to get us ready for the continuing saga, chair Boyd Hilton, said he had seen a clip of S2 and that it was 'amazing'.

Roll on September!

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