Sunday 7 July 2019

Vincent Regan is Ned Despard in 'Poldark'

Pic: Sunday Times
Vincent Regan joins the final series of Poldark as Ned Despard, a dynamic and impassioned historical figure set to shake things up. He explains: ‘Edward Despard was a fascinating person and his story fits incredibly well into the world of Poldark. Playing him was interesting as he is a real person amongst the fictionalised characters in the series and the fact is that he had a real, poignant story and so I felt there was a gravitas to him that was given to me by history. Ned’s story is very much about an historical miscarriage of justice and so there felt a real weight to him. Debbie Horsfield has taken the story of Ned Despard but given a more impetuous quality to him that links him to Ross in a way because Ross (Aidan Turner) is renowned for his impetuous behaviour. Also, Ned was Ross’s ranking officer in the American Revolutionary War and having fought together they have that camaraderie that veterans have.’

Vincent tells us what it was like working alongside Aidan: ‘Aidan has inhabited Ross Poldark for four years so he knows the character very well and also he knows the filmmakers and crew, but he is a very generous actor and he listens, which is such a great quality, so he was an easy actor to work with. We got to film some exciting moments involving the mines and there are some fights this series. There is a fair bit of action but a lot of the series is set in London, as that is where the danger is for Ned.’

Photo: BBC
Vincent explains that Ned doesn’t always seem to realise when danger is afoot: ‘Ned is one of those characters who believes the best in people, a little bit na├»ve in a way, he doesn’t realise that people are manipulating him in certain ways. He doesn’t see the puppeteer.

‘There are people who want him out the way – he is a trouble maker, an abolitionist who believes in a fair wage for a fair days work and in giving land to freed slaves in the colonies so basically he is doing everything the colonists and imperial powers don’t want. They want to exploit the colonies for everything they can get and because they see him as a threat to their business interests they try and get him done away with. And when he gets to England they trump up charges against him and make out that he is seditious and revolutionary.’

Ned's wife is a courageous former slave who spends the series campaigning for her husband’s freedom in an unwelcoming city: ‘It is extraordinary; Ned freed Kitty (Kerri McLean) from slavery, married her and had a child with her. It was a mixed race marriage 200 years ago which is quite extraordinary and hints at what a modern and forward thinking man Ned was. Kitty is a very strong woman who matched him and when he was thrown in jail when he first returned she went round lobbying to have him released and she would have been treated so badly in English society at the time because society was openly racist. So she was a hugely brave person. She was sadly written out of history so we don’t even know what happened to her.’

Vincent explains about the important history being covered in the final series of Poldark and the relevance of this today: ‘What is going to be interesting is when the audience realise this was a real person. It is important for people to know this history and I am hopeful it will spur people on to find out more. I am from east Yorkshire where the abolitionist movement began - William Wilberforce was from Hull.  Slavery was abolished in England way before it was in the USA because it didn’t impact as much on the economy of the UK as it did in the US. The reason the civil war was fought was due to the issue of slavery and that is about business needs and equality for all people – they don’t work well together and that is something that is so interesting and makes Debbie so current with what she has done with her writing this series. Ned is in trouble because big business wants to exploit land and workers and so if you delve deeper and peel away some of the layers of the story you can see the social issues which are as relevant now as they were then. So not only is Poldark beautiful to watch on screen and an exciting drama but it is always so relevant.’

Related Links:
Aidan Turner Talks 'Poldark' Series Five
Eleanor Tomlinson on 'Poldark' Series Five
Jack Farthing on the Final Series of 'Poldark'
Luke Norris Talks 'Poldark' Series Five
Gabriella Wilde Talks 'Poldark' Series Five
Kerri McLean is Kitty Despard
Ellise Chappell on 'Poldark' Series Five
Harry Richardson Talks 'Poldark' Series Five
Freddie Wise is Geoffrey Charles Poldark
Lily Dodsworth-Evans is Cecily Hanson in 'Poldark'
Sofia Oxenham is Tess Tregidden in 'Poldark'
Source:  BBC Press Pack

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