Tuesday 31 May 2016

Aidan Turner at London MCM Comic Con

Aidan Turner, MCM Comic Con
MCM Comic Con Panel  Photo: Evie Bowman
 'I ride a horse in the other show, so I can hang out on a horse all day,' says Aidan Turner grasping at straws.
I'm backstage in the Press Room at MCM Comic Con and Lenora Crichlow has just put Aidan in the awkward position of choosing between filming Being Human and filming Poldark. The banter between Aidan and his fellow Being Human cast mates Lenora and Russell Tovey means, if there's a joke to be had, they'll find it.
'You love a horse, don't you?', says Russell.
'Oh I love a horse,' says Aidan, ' I can just saddle up and ride away. There's not much to it really.'
'He does love a horse,' Lenora joins while Russell can't stop laughing.
'Because they're well behaved,' Aidan explains, 'They train them up good and I'm a pretty decent jockey. Did you ever do it?' he asks Russell, 'Did you give it a shot in Banished? Oh, you didn't have horses in Banished.'
'We didn't, no we had kangaroos,' quips Russell, 'They're tough to ride.'
'There'll never be a second season,' mutters Aidan.

Aidan Turner, MCM Comic Con
MCM Comic Con Press Room Photo: Evie Bowman
The press event is for Being Human but inevitably it touches on Poldark and the coming series.
'We pick it up exactly where we left off... so it's a sad state of affairs,' says Aidan, 'And yeah, there's so much story in it, and all the characters have massive arcs in the next series.'
Never missing a queue Russell asks, 'Have you a massive arc?'
'Yeah, huge. That's what people say,' retorts Aidan.
'Are you in it?' asks Lenora.
'I'm in all of them, all of the episodes. I'm in all the deleted scenes,' Aidan says to much laughter. 'It's going to be huge this year, yeah. I mean, it was big the first year, but with all the support and the fanbase that we've accumulated? It's gonna be amazing.'

A couple of general questions are thrown in.
Does Aidan ever watch his own shows? 'Whoah! No, no,NO!'
Does he relate to his characters on a personal level? 'I don't know how you don't get involved emotionally. You have to make those connections all the time then, before you know it you're so far in, it's hard to decipher which bit is you and which is the character.  Yeah, I would think you have to give a lot to it, yeah.'

It's also established that Aidan's beard is not for a new role.

Aidan Turner, MCM Comic Con
Photo credit: Evie Bowman
Which leads us nicely from the press conference to the photo shoot later in the day. Aidan had so many people wanting pictures with him that, with a hundred photos to go (according to staff), the session was in real danger of overrunning. But Aidan refused to be rushed and, in the session I was in, greeted every woman with a kiss, every man with a handshake and did his best to slow the photographer down.  And, yes, his beard is very soft!

Photographs over, Aidan had a final autograph signing session which was due to end at 4.45 pm but, when that time arrived, there was still a huge queue snaking through the hall. Groans of disappointment went up when staff warned us that the queue might be capped but then word came from Security that Aidan said he would stay until every autograph was signed. As it approached 6 pm announcements went out that the hall was closing and still Aidan signed, still he gave people time. And by 6 o'clock, he'd done them all!  What a star he is!

Aidan Turner, MCM Comic Con
Photo: Evie Bowman

You can watch the MCM press interview here:

Saturday 21 May 2016

Blue Orange Review

The Poldarked team had a night out at the theatre last weekend and caught Blue Orange by Joe Penhall at The Young Vic. One of the cast is Luke Norris, playing a young, well intentioned doctor, clashing with his older professional colleagues: sound familiar? Blue Orange is very different territory to Poldark however.

David Haig, Luke Norris and Daniel Kaluuya
Photo by Alastair Muir

Directed by Matthew Xia, the play looks at the relationship between a young black man, Christopher (Daniel Kaluuya ) who has been confined to a psychiatric ward for a month and his doctor, Bruce (Luke Norris), who wants to section him as he thinks he's suffering from psychosis; amongst other things he still thinks oranges are blue. The older consultant (David Haig) disagrees and thinks it's just a question of Christopher's culture being misunderstood by an ethnocentric system.

Bruce pleads with Christopher whilst consultant, Robert looks on.
Pic: What's On Stage
The play raises many questions about the diagnosis of mental illness, race and modern society and ends without giving the audience the answers. Although some things have changed since the play was originally staged the issues of institutional racism and how bed space dictates treatment remain. It's gripping, cutting and funny and I've been thinking about it ever since. With just three characters and lots of dialogue the actors need to be at the top of their game and they are throughout. The play is performed in the round and uses the space well, giving the audience the feel of being in the room (the entire play is set in a consultation room in a psychiatric hospital).

Our signed playbill
For such a serious subject the Blue Orange is surprisingly funny and the humour adds to the empathy. It has a bit of everything and it's no surprise the play won an Olivier Award when it was first staged in 2000. If you can get it see it we'd highly recommend it. Blue Orange runs until 2nd July. You can book tickets from The Young Vic.

Read Luke Norris's Biography 

Can't Go to Comic Con? You can Still Join in the Aidan Fun!

Can't go to  MCM Comic Con and meet Aidan Turner next Saturday?  All is not lost! You can watch Aidan being interviewed at Comic Con on the Buzz stage live, either on You Tube or on Mymbuzz.  You can even ask him something!  Just film yourself asking a question and send it to dave@mcmbuzz.com and you could have your question chosen for Aidan to answer.  Check out the details here.
Aidan Turner is appearing at MCM Comic Con on Saturday, 28 May 2016 along with Being Human cast mates Lenora Crichlow and Russell Tovey.

Thursday 19 May 2016

'Poldark' Panel at the Hay Festival

Poldark is going to the Hay Festival!

Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza), Luke Norris (Dwight Enys), Karen Thrussell (executive producer) and Debbie Horsfield (writer) will be on the Poldark panel to talk about the show. There's also a preview of Series 2!

The event is on Sunday 5 June at 5.30pm.  To book tickets (price £7) follow the  link

Tuesday 10 May 2016

BAFTA Win for 'Poldark'!

Poldark has won the BAFTA Radio Times Audience Award 2016!

The House of Fraser British Television Awards ceremony was held on Sunday and Poldark beat off the competition from The Great British Bake Off, Making a Murderer, Doctor Foster, Peter Kay's Car Share and Humans  to win the only BAFTA voted for by the public: The Radio Times Audience Award.

Cast members Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Heida Reed, Ruby Bentall, Luke Norris and Kyle Soller went on stage to collect the award along with writer Debbie Horsfield and executive producers Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer. It was presented by Martin Freeman, Aidan's co-star in The Hobbit.

Aidan began his acceptance speech by thanking the fans saying, '...you're incredibly supportive and loyal and we wouldn't be anywhere without you,'  which was terrific to hear for all of us who voted and got all our family and friends to vote too!

Fittingly for an evening celebrating the best of British television, there were calls throughout the ceremony to defend the independence of the BBC, in this week in which the government publishes its white paper on the BBC's future. Asked about it in an interview Damien Timmer commented, 'The BBC is our creative oxygen in this country...and we love it to death.'

Many congratulations to all the cast and crew involved in making Poldark: we're so proud of what you've achieved.

Here's more from the evening:

Poldark, BAFTA,
Via Heida Reed Instagram

Related links:
Poldarked: The National Television Awards 2016
Poldarked: Aidan Turner Wins Breakthrough Award
Poldarked: 'Poldark' Wins TV Choice Award
Poldarked: News Round -Up
Poldarked: Aidan Wins At Jameson Empire Awards
Poldarked: Awards and Critical Acclaim for Aidan Turner
Poldarked: Aidan and Awards

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Exclusive Interview with Robin Ellis

Robin Ellis, Winston Graham, Poldark, Interview
Robin Ellis  Photo credit: Evie Bowman
Robin EllisTV's original Ross Poldark, became famous back in the 1970s when Poldark was such a draw on a Sunday evening, it is said that church service times were changed to allow people to watch it. Nowadays, Robin lives in France with his wife Meredith Wheeler and enjoys a second career as a cook and writer of cookbooks. Two years ago, news that he would join the new adaptation of  Poldark as the Reverend Halse was greeted with delight by fans everywhere and has certainly proved a popular move.

I met Robin recently at a book signing for his latest cook book Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics. It's easy to see why he has a host of loyal fans as he is quite charming and I was delighted when he graciously agreed to an interview with Poldarked.

Poldarked: Poldark was phenomenally popular in the 1970s and the new adaptation has done well too.  Why do you think this is?
Robin Ellis: He was a very good storyteller, Winston Graham.  They're classic stories and the books still hold up, the stories still hold up, the characters still hold up. Forty years later, it was well worth going with it again.

Robin Ellis, Winston Graham, Poldark, Interview
Robin with Winston Graham
Photo credit: Meredith Wheeler
P: Andrew Graham is an adviser on the new Poldark but Winston Graham was obviously around when you played Ross. How involved was he in the 1970s version?
RE: Well, he wasn't involved in the first series: in fact he didn't really approve at all, of the adaptation of the first book, in terms of Demelza's development - not Angharad's performance - because he felt that the adaptor had in some way misrepresented his creation of Demelza. I think he was sensitive to this because, although he denied this, to some degree the character was inspired by his wife Jean. He first met Jean when she was thirteen and I think Ross first meets Demelza when she was thirteen, so there are similarities. I think he was quite distressed when he first saw the adaptation and he tried to stop the series going out, I'm told: I never really talked to him about this. We got to know him thanks to Clive Francis, who played Francis in the first series. He met Winston at their club and said, 'We're filming and we didn't see you for the whole of the first series and this is quite wrong. We'd love to see you.' And as a result of that meeting, Winston and Jean became very regular visitors to the set both in Cornwall and at Pebble Mill where we did the interiors for the second series and they became our friends. They both appeared as extras and were really enthusiastic about the whole thing. He was very active: he still had five books to write. He was very alive and interested and became great friends with the cast.

P: Have you read the later books?
RE: I think I read numbers eight and nine. I did read his final book, which he wrote at the age of 92, Bella Poldark. It's tremendous! In fact I sort of thought he fell in love again with his female lead, Ross's daughter Bella, in the same way he fell for Demelza. He loved his characters and that was one of the reasons that he didn't want to do a third series based on story lines that he would write: he felt too loyal to his characters. The characters, he felt, had a life of their own and would develop as he wrote the books, which indeed they did, so he didn't want to hand the characters over to scriptwriters.

Robin with Aidan Turner
Photo credit: Meredith Wheeler
P: When did you first learn they were doing a new adaptation of Poldark and how did you feel about it?
RE: Well, I suppose I read it. I emailed the production company Mammoth [Screen] with congratulations and just said, 'Well done! What great news! Great stories, great characters, it's really worth doing again after 40 years,' because that was the way I felt. These characters are classical characters, great stories and they should be shared again.

P: When you were offered a part in the new Poldark, were you given a choice of role?
RE: They took me out to lunch and said, 'Who would you like to play? I didn't say Ross! I didn't know. After 40 years my in-depth knowledge was a little sketchy.  So I said, 'Basically, I'd like to be in it: over to you as to what I might play.' And after a long gap of six to eight months they came back with the idea of me playing this disgraceful judge!

P: Did Debbie Horsfield write the part with you in mind?
RE: The Reverend Halse is a character in the books. He's not quite as defined as she has defined him because, in the book, I think that trial scene has three judges, of which my character is one but not the principal.

P: What was it like meeting the new cast for the first time? 
RE: Well it was wonderful! What can I say? They're all good actors, well cast and committed to the work. When you get something as good as Poldark in its origin, it's good to discover that the people who are going to participate in it again have its best interest at heart. They were keen to make a very good job of it - both the actors and the production company - and that's what they've done.

Robin as Ross Poldark Photo via Robin Ellis Net
P: When it came to filming, did you find things were very different from the 1970s?
RE: I did - yes. When we did it we did a lot of exterior filming in Cornwall but then we came back to London and rehearsed each episode for six days and went into the studio for two days. We filmed it eventually at the end of the second day, rather like a play. We started at 7.30 in the evening of the second day and we ended at 10.00. And the filming bits that we'd done, which were usually about ten minutes of the whole 54, were then slotted in afterwards. This time, absolutely no rehearsal. You come on to the set and you set the scene and the cameras come in and they light it and then you start doing it, basically. It was a bit scary at first! I got lucky with filming the first scene, in that the camera went on Aidan first and then reversed on to me, so we did the scene maybe five or six times on Aidan and I was able to run the lines and get used to the whole atmosphere before they turned the camera onto me.  I think probably the director did that deliberately, knowing that I hadn't done anything for a bit and that it was all rather new to me.

Robin as Rev. Halse  Photo: Nick Kenyon
P: What was it like playing Reverend Halse in that court scene?
RE: When you do something you get very immersed in it and, the fact that I'd played Ross's part forty years ago didn't really impinge on me at all. I was was fully engaged in what I was doing.  When I was at Stratford in 1976 we might do The Comedy of Errors in the afternoon and King Lear in the evening, so one gets used to immersing oneself in an atmosphere of the thing pretty quickly really and that atmosphere takes over and helps your concentration.

P: Has playing the Reverend Halse whetted your appetite for doing more acting again?
RE: Well I think it has really.  I very much enjoyed it. We live in France and to do theatre in UK is not really an option for me now, but if somebody offered me something in television or film I certainly wouldn't immediately turn it down.

P: Did you get the chance to socialise much with the rest of the cast?
RE: That is another difference, actually!  What was wonderful about our go round was that we were meeting all the time, to rehearse and then to film and so we saw a lot of each other and we became a bit of a family. That's not quite the same now. People come in for their filming day and then they leave. And, although they might be staying in the same hotel, it's quite pressured and they don't really feel like doing the same kind of socialising, possibly, we did - although I haven't been to Cornwall so maybe they do the same sort of thing we did, down in Cornwall. That said, I went for the read through for the second series and the feeling in the room of the company that had done the first eight episodes was palpable. Everybody got on terribly well, were very pleased to see each other again. Clearly there was a family feeling there as well.

P: Aidan's horse Seamus has become a star in his own right. How did you get on with your horse when you played Ross?
RE: Dennis, the first horse, was a star anyway. He was a twelve year old steeple-chaser and you couldn't teach him anything. He knew it all! He threw me twice. But we got on pretty well really. I seem to remember watching the early episodes and I swear he smiled at the camera as he went through. My second horse, Ebony, was very experienced and extremely strong-willed. They taught me how to ride, in a way, as I'm not a rider. I only ride for money, basically! But I got on well with both horses in the end.

Aidan Turner and Robin Ellis
Photo: Nick Kenyon
P: You and your wife, Meredith Wheeler, seem very much a team. Does she help you prepare for your role?
RE:  She runs the lines, she always has done. There was a lovely moment filming the first scene that we do. There was a pause in the filming and she was outside having a coffee when Aidan came out. He was running the lines to himself and she thought, 'I won't interrupt him because, clearly, his concentration is important to him.' Then he, I suppose feeling somewhat self-conscious, said 'I've got to do this right,' and she said, 'Well, yes, I understand. I know this scene very well. I've played you! I know every word you say!' Because before filming she'd run the lines so many times, playing Ross, that she could almost run them without the script.

P: Without giving too much away, is there anything you can tell us about the Rev. Halse in Series Two?
RE: I do three scenes. They're all courtroom scenes: two with Ross and one with Francis and Dwight Enys. They're all good scenes. I enjoyed playing them all.

P: Do you think we'll ever see Halse smile?
RE: Ahhh! Well I did smirk a little in the card room scene. If you watch very closely you'll see a rather complacent smile come on my face at one point. But any opportunity to be amused at somebody else's discomfort would be great!

P: And will we see the Reverend Halse in Series Three?
RE: Series Three? Well, it's not been confirmed yet so I don't honestly know about that.  One lives in hope!

Many thanks to Robin for this interview. I enjoyed talking to him tremendously.

You can follow Robin on Twitter @RobinPoldark and Facebook  and on his blog Robin Ellis

Robin's memoir Making Poldark has been updated to include filming the new series.

Robin is delivering the du Maurier Lecture at the Fowey Festival on Saturday 7 May, 2016.

On Sunday 8 May at 2pm he is giving a book talk and signing for his new cookbook Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics, again at the Fowey Festival.

Robin has written three cookery books:
Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics (2016)
Healthy Eating for Life  (2014)
Delicious Dishes for Diabetics (2011)

He will be doing a free book event for Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics at Waterstones in Doncaster on Thursday 16 June at 6.30 pm and a similar event (talk, Q&A and signing) at Waterstones in Sheffield on 17 June (time tba).

 Robin also runs cookery workshops in his village in southwestern France.