Wednesday, 3 July 2019

In Which I go to the BFI Poldark S5 Screening and Thank Aidan Turner

It's 5th June and here I am, once again, at the BFI Southbank for a preview screening of Poldark. I've been to the preview screenings for series one to four, but today feels a little different as I'm here to see the first episode of  the fifth and final series. Different not only because it's the last season but also because, this time, it's not an adaptation of Winston Graham's books so I don't know the story lines.

I have a super seat in the theatre, in the middle near the front: Jack Farthing and Luke Norris are sitting behind me.  The film starts and I find myself swept up into the world of Poldark once more.

Episode one is fast moving. There are new characters to meet and Garrick, the dog, shows why he's a star! I particularly like George Warleggan's (Jack Farthing) story line and will be interested to see how it unfolds.

Episode one is over all too soon, but that means it's time for the Q&A so I settle back into my seat. Aidan Turner, Jack Farthing, Luke Norris and Ellise Chappell, along with writer Debbie Horsfield and executive producer Karen Thrussell, make up the panel.

Here are some snippets:

  • Series five attempts to fill in some of the gaps in the ten years between book seven, The Angry Tide and book eight, The Stranger from the Sea.  It explains how Ross goes from being a Member of Parliament and mine owner in book seven to, ten years later, being on a special mission for the British Government in Portugal. Debbie follows Winston Graham's tradition of using actual historical events and people who might have entered the story, in her script. Kitty (Kerri McLean) and Ned (Vincent Regan), who we meet in the first episode, were both real people.
Aidan Turner
  • Aidan found it an exciting series to shoot as he didn't have a clue what to expect until he read the script. "There's quite a bit of action for Ross this time," he says,"There's a lot going on with Ned: he made it very exciting for Ross this year."  Aidan loves doing the physical scenes but does he get nervous doing the sword fights? "Not nervous but - they were steel swords. You just kind of commit and hope everything will be fine. If you're too careful it looks like it's careful."
  • Ross and Ned's friendship impacts on Dwight (Luke Norris) and there's some animosity between Ross and Dwight, which was fun for Luke to play. "There's a bit of edge between the two of them," Luke says. There are new challenges for George (Jack Farthing) as he reels from Elizabeth's (Heida Reed) death.
  • Aidan says the final day on set, "...was quite poignant. The last day was just myself and Eleanor (Tomlinson) doing some of the bedroom scenes. It was quite intimate. It was quite lovely and it made sense that it was just the two of us."
Luke Norris
  • The actors all took souvenirs from the set.  Luke took George Warleggan's writing box which he gave to be auctioned for Cornwall Air Ambulance. It raised £1000.  Jack took a black suit but he didn't know why, " was just sooo fitted." Ellise took a shell bracelet (ahhh) and an antique book with winter primroses pressed in it.  Aidan took Nampara's kitchen table and benches! "They're in my house in London," he laughs, "Looks pretty perfect."
  • Luke's stand-out moment came after Dwight's escape from Quimper when he was lying in a rowing boat on the river on a glorious day. The only down-side was he wore a stick-on beard. The other actors were working so hard rowing the boat; Aidan was sweating and Luke was just lying there!
Jack Farthing
  • Going back five years, Aidan was, "pretty nervous," on the first day. He says, "Nerves aren't always your best friend in this game. That's something I've learnt to deal with better. I've learnt to settle down and concentrate better." Debbie remembers Aidan being, "...really quite fierce," just on that initial day and Aidan thinks he has become, "...a little bit nicer."
  • Everyone agreed they would miss the cast and crew who all worked so hard on the show and Jack feels that, "being at the heart of popular show was amazing." They had been, "undeservedly lucky," and says he will miss, "people really liking what I'm doing."

Screening over, I make my way upstairs to the Blue Room where I'm invited for drinks (thank you, Mammoth Screen - x). Aidan is standing in the foyer talking to Poldark's publicity people, Lisa and Hannah, when the Radio Times journalist, Alison Graham, comes up and gives him a hug. I walk on into the Blue Room. This is my third Poldark drinks party and it is certainly the busiest. The place is buzzing and there are lots of cast members and crew here. I make a note to return later, but for now I walk back through the foyer and there I am, in a quiet space, alone - with Aidan Turner.

Aidan Turner at the BFI
"How have you been? Have you been well?" he asks me and I hear myself squeak a reply of, "Fine, just fine." I know Aidan's unlikely to hang around for long. He has, after all, spent the afternoon doing interviews and social media for Poldark, prior to  the screening. So, getting my act together,  I come straight to the point and thank him for looking after me so well on my visits the set of Poldark. He smiles and says, "That's sweet," and, "I remember it well, I do,"  I've written before about my visit during the filming of series three, but we talked about when I was there and they were filming the mining scenes for series two. They were fun scenes to shoot and Aidan was just so - well - masterful! When I'd commented about this to him at the time he'd said, "Yeah. I'm a cocky b*st*rd," which had really made me laugh! 
But back to today and, as Aidan's not rushing off, I tell him I loved The Lieutenant of Inishmore. His face lights up at the mention of the play. It's obviously still close to his heart. "You came to see the play, of course," he says, "Aw, you're so good, so good."  With time running out I wish him all the best and he thanks me and tells me to take care.  While he goes to the guest lift,  I run down the stairs, stopping only to take a photo of my friend, Jo, with Luke Norris.  I dash outside and am just in time to see Aidan signing autographs before getting into the car to go. What a mad few minutes!

And what a fantastic way to round off my whole Poldark experience, perfectly.

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