In Depth

Poldark: Five things that make the Cornish series a hit

A bare-chested Aidan Turner is only one part of the show's successful formula

Poldark season two: What time is it on and what's in store?

02 September

The Cornish period drama Poldark is back this Sunday with a sombre opening plot.

After a 16-month break, the series will pick up from exactly where it left off last year, starting at 9pm on BBC 1. Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) have just lost their child, his company is on the edge and he has been arrested. "It's a cheery beginning," promises Turner.

Fans of the original Winston Graham novels – or the 1970s TV series – will also know to expect more simmering tensions between Ross and his former love interest Elizabeth (Heida Reed), more bitter rivalries between Ross and George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) and more class struggles between the wealthy toffs and the working poor.

The latest trailer for the show "hints that BBC is only upping the action for the second series of the hit period drama", says the London Evening Standard. The clip shows Poldark being led away by a group of soldiers, arrested for his involvement in the wrecking of Warleggan's ship and the suspected murder of Warleggan's cousin.

"A known revolutionary… wedded his scullery maid… wrecker and suspected murderer… Mr Poldark, Here we are again," say various voices.

Poldark can be heard declaring: "I make no apology for my action", while Demelza tells him: "You must answer to judge and jury and if you're found guilty..."

Elizabeth is also clearly causing trouble, asking: "Can not a woman love two men? Can not a man love two women?" [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"99325","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Reed said she hopes people can enjoy Poldark for "more than a topless scene", referring to the huge attention Turner received after scything a field while shirtless in season one.

The iconic "Mr Darcy moment" helped draw 9.5 million viewers for the final episode and propelled Turner into the spotlight, as well as a contender to be the next James Bond.

But Poldark's success can't be explained by a topless Turner alone, wrote Mark Lawson in The Guardian last year. The show reflects current trends in British TV - in a market with less money but more competition, an already-known title such as Poldark is a safer bet to attract viewers than an unknown quantity, he argued.

The picturesque West Country setting helps, adds the critic, but more importantly, "in nervous and conservative times, audiences seem particularly to appreciate costume drama".

"I don't feel any pressure but it would be a bit embarrassing if it bombed," Turner tells the Irish Times.

When it first came out, the actor worried that the series would be "dated or overly romantic or cheesy", but so far it has pleased fans.

And it seems they'll be getting plenty more of it. The BBC has commissioned a third season to air next year, with Turner committed to filming until March. The third series will offer more episodes adapted by Debbie Horsfield from Graham's novels – although the number of instalments has yet to be announced.

Executive producer Elizabeth Kilgarriff says: "Series two promises to take the audience on another fantastic rollercoaster ride and we're thrilled to know that the story won't end there."

Poldark: What will happen in series two and when is series three?

6 July

Poldark has been commissioned for a third series, months before series two is set to air.

The Cornish-set period drama doesn't return to our screens until September, but the BBC has already confirmed there is plenty more action in store for fans.

"Series two promises to take the audience on another fantastic rollercoaster ride and we're thrilled to know that the story won’t end there," executive producer Elizabeth Kilgarriff said in a statement.

Damien Timmer, of Poldark production company Mammoth Screen, said: "Poldark is a passion project for all of us and it's with real excitement that we prepare for both the launch of series two and our return to Cornwall to shoot series three."

The third season, which will be screened next year, will consist of ten episodes and promises "yet more twists and turns for these much loved characters", said Kilgarriff.

That the BBC is looking so far ahead is no real surprise: Poldark's first series pulled in almost 9.5 million viewers and catapulted its leading man to stardom - Radio Times readers voted Turner's shirtless scything scene TV Moment of the Year 2015. However, producers say Poldark will be keeping his clothes on in series two.

Meanwhile, Turner reprising his role appears to put to rest rumours that he was being considered to take over from Daniel Craig as the next James Bond.

As for what's in store for series two, Radio Times reports the action will pick up in 1794, "against the backdrop of the French revolution, which casts a shadow over life in Cornwall". New faces joining the cast include Midsomer Murders star John Nettles, who will play a wealthy landowner.

With Poldark already facing a potential death sentence on charges of inciting a riot, as well as struggling to get over the death of his infant daughter, there should be no shortage of drama ahead.

Poldark season two 'will be huge', says Aidan Turner

2 June

Aidan Turner has dropped some tantalising clues about what fans can expect from series two of historical drama Poldark.

The Irish actor, who plays Cornish mine owner Ross Poldark, says the second outing will be "huge" – and not just figuratively.

After the runaway success of series one, fans can look forward to two extra episodes this time, with ten instalments to enjoy instead of last year's eight.

Speaking at the MCM London Comic-Con, where he joined Russell Tovey on a Being Human reunion panel, Turner confirmed that the show would pick up exactly where series one left off - and the brooding landowner is not in a great place.

"Ross and Demelza have just lost their child, his company is down the pan, they're broke and he's been arrested. It looks like he's going to prison," Turner said. "It's a cheery beginning."

But it seems the latest outing won't dwell on past miseries for long. Turner, whose shirtless scything was named TV moment of the year at the National Television Awards in January, added there are "massive arcs" in store for all of the main characters.

"There's so much story in it," he said.

A broadcast date has not yet been announced for series two, but it is expected to debut as part of the BBC's autumn line-up.

Poldark series two delayed – but star hints at a third series

3 February

It's bittersweet news for Poldark fans - the release of the second series has been pushed back by six months, but star Aidan Turner has given a heavy hint that a third series is all but guaranteed.

Ross, Demelza and Elizabeth will not return to TV screens until autumn, more than a year after the dramatic end of the first series. However, while that may be an inconvenience to viewers, on the upside, the second series will now have ten episodes, two more than the first.

"Autumn is the season for the strongest drama and more time was needed to complete the extended run," a source explained to the Daily Mirror.

The decision to show Poldark alongside other prestige dramas indicates that the BBC now considers the programme one of its most valuable assets.

Phil Davis, who plays Poldark's boozy servant Jud Paynter, told the Radio Times that series two may not feature many fan-pleasing scenes of a shirtless Ross working up a sweat in the fields – because the weather was too cold.

"We didn't start [filming] 'til September," he said, suggesting viewers can expect a more "autumnal" feel in series two. 

Jud will be up to his old tricks again, said Davis, but with his master clapped in irons awaiting trial for inciting a riot, who knows what mischief he will get up to?

The 62-year-old actor also addressed Poldark's famous scything scene, in which he starred alongside a shirtless Turner, who has been named Glamour's sexiest man of 2016.

"I begged them to take my shirt off but they insisted I keep it on. I think they were worried he might be a bit outshone by my magnificent physique," he said. "He didn't do anything for me when he took his shirt off but I'm obviously not typical." 

As for a third series, high ratings and positive reviews mean it was always a good bet – but now the show's star has all but confirmed it.

Turner, who has set millions of hearts fluttering with his character's frequent bouts of partial nudity, was speaking to The Sun at the National Television Awards, at which he won the Impact Award, and when asked about the show's future, said the third series was due to start filming in September.

However, he immediately realised he had said too much and attempted to backpedal. "Oh no, I'm going to be in trouble. It's possible we're not doing that," he said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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