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 series two: BBC trailer teases fans

8 January

Fans of the BBC's Poldark have been given their first look at what to expect from the second series of the hit period drama. The teasing preview comes in a new trailer showing 2016's must-watch television shows.

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Offering the most fleeting of glimpses at what fans can expect, one shot sees a brooding Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) gazing out to sea while in another, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) shows off his trademark lady-killing glower.

But it won't all be doom and gloom as the couple are also seen locked in an embrace and smiling, suggesting they may finally have recovered from the death of their infant daughter Julia.

Brief though it may be, fans will no doubt be excited to see some footage from the upcoming series, which has been filming on location in Cornwall since September. Shooting is now set to go on until April and with no broadcast date yet revealed, this might be the only look viewers get at Turner and co. for a while.

While the finished product may look effortlessly glamorous, the show's Heida Reed has taken to social media to show that filming can be anything but. The 27-year-old actress, who plays Elizabeth, Ross Poldark's cousin and love interest, tweeted about the struggle of getting into costume after Christmas indulgence. She accompanied the message with a selfie showing her looking uncomfortable in a corset, which she has christened Cruella.

Poldark: six things to look forward to in second series 

24 September

Despite the first series having finished just five months ago, fans of BBC period drama Poldark have started to turn their attention to series two, sparked by the news that filming has begun on an extended new series.

Two extra episodes

Aidan Turner, who plays the eponymous Captain Ross Poldark, told the Huffington Post on the eve of shooting for the second series: "We've two extra episodes this season, which is amazing. The shoot is probably seven and a half months or something like that. A bit longer than last year." 

Turner added that filming would finish at the beginning of April 2016, so fans could expect to see it not long after that.

More love dilemmas

The actor, who prompted something of an internet storm with his brooding demeanour and propensity to lose his shirt, has also revealed that the new series will feature more dilemmas for his character as he is torn between his new love Demelza and his ex-fiancé Elizabeth.

Speaking to the Daily Star, Turner remained tight-lipped on the exact details. "All I can say at the moment is that love is a very complex thing," he said. "It is so deep and there are so many layers."

A darker turn

Where series one was mostly based on the first two books of the Winston Graham novels, according to popular culture website Bustle, series two will be taken from the third and some of the fourth novels in the 12-book series. 

"Series two will take a darker turn from the start, with Ross fighting for his life after being put on trial for leading the plunder of the Warleggans' wrecked ship, a crime for which he could be executed if found guilty," the website reports. 

It goes on to claim that happily there will be some joy for Ross and Demelza. After a series one finale in which they lost their child Julia, Demelza will give birth to a baby boy in the new series.

New faces

Series two will feature a number of new faces, the BBC has confirmed, and one in particular may be familiar to keen-eyed observers. Gabriella Wilde, born Gabriella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe, will take the role of Caroline Penvenen, a new love interest on the Cornish shores. 

According to the Daily Telegraph, Wilde shares half-siblings with Prince Harry's female friend Cressida Bonas and has been a staple of the pages of socialite magazine Tatler. Wilde's character will be pursued by prospective MP Unwin Trevaunance, another new character to be played by W1A's Hugh Skinner. 

Series two won't be the end

With over six million people watching the finale of the first series, it looks like Poldark could be around for a while. A BBC source told the Metro: "We are keen to find a long-running drama which will return year after year and bring in a big audience – our own Downton Abbey. We believe Poldark fits the bill perfectly." 

They added: "We'd be mad not to give viewers more of what they want." Officially, only the second series has been commissioned, but in May the Radio Times revealed the BBC's outgoing head of drama, Brian Stephenson, "firmly believes" there will be six series of Poldark in total.

More scything ahead

The first sight of a bare-chested Poldark scything in a field kick-started the nation's obsession with the Sunday night drama – and fans of the character's topless farming techniques can rest assured that they will continue in the second series, reports the Daily Telegraph. "To those hoping for more scything action in season two? You're in luck: Poldark is set in the late-1780s; the lawnmower wasn't invented for another 40 years," explains the newspaper. Hopefully his scything skills will meet the exacting standards of the mowing community, who were said to be disappointed with his previous "excessive sweating and grunting" during what is supposed to be a "sedate activity", according to the Daily Mail.

The BBC have even kept up the scything scenes while Poldark has been off air, viewers of The Go-Between – a television adaptation of the LP Hartley novel of the same name – noticed a remarkable coincidence when main character Ted Burgess (Ben Batt) was seen scything topless in a near-identical pose.

Poldark finale leaves fans bereft and critics bemused 

27 April

As Poldark reached its dramatic conclusion on the BBC1 last night, millions of fans were left wondering how they would cope without it, while critics tried to work out how the costume drama became one of the hits of the year.

The period drama, set on the Cornish coast, has hooked an average audience of 8.1 million viewers over its eight-week run, and seen the rise of its star Aidan Turner, Ross Poldark, from relatively unknown Hobbit actor to undisputed heartthrob – and even managed to lend Ed Miliband some second-hand sex-appeal.

Now the series finale, in which Poldark not only lost his infant daughter but also got arrested, is prompting soul-searching from fans and critics alike.   

In the Daily Telegraph, Alison Pearson describes the conclusion as "devastatingly good". Pearson says "there are rare occasions when a popular drama series breaks free of its clichés and delivers something that properly belongs to art. Last night was one of them."

How on earth will the women of Britain cope? asks Rowan Pelling, also in the Telegraph. She cites female friends who have been dreading the end of the series more than the May election or menopause. Pelling says the "near-hysteria" induced by Turner's rippling torso has been so intense "it sometimes feels like a weather system poised to drench the nation with a deluge of rogue oestrogen".

But in The Independent, Ellen E Jones urges viewers to "get some perspective". The series has had Twitter all a-swoon, she says, but maybe we "just need a quick whiff of the smelling salts and some time to compose ourselves".

Jones argues that Winston Graham, the author of the original novels, "was no Jane Austen". His characterisation isn't as subtle, she says, his plot twists aren't as surprising and his themes aren't as universal. So how did his book become so popular on screen?

It is not a sophisticated drama, Jones says, "but the simple things can sometimes be very satisfying". The BBC deserves credit for turning its source material into "an addictive Sunday night treat".

Andrew Billen in The Times, is less enamoured of Poldark, noting that while the "ultimate cliffhanger" ending viewers were promised did take place on a cliff, "no one was hanging from it".

Billen admits the show had touching moments, but says Poldark "still looks as if it is largely there so that someone can pastiche it this Christmas".

Still, it's clear millions of female fans will miss their weekly dose of Turner, says The Mirror. It consoles them with the news that there's "plenty of top totty" to be had elsewhere and provides a list of "hunks" in upcoming television series.

The Radio Times has even better news for those "already in withdrawal", reporting that a second series has already been commissioned. It also tells viewers what they can expect to see.

Series two will feature Ross's trial for pilfering and inciting a riot, a new love interest for Poldark's friend Dr Dwight Enys, a new addition to his family, a looming war, and of course, more skulduggery from the Warleggans.

Poldark Q&A 'swamped' by lustful Aidan Turner fans

30 March

A BBC promotion for Poldark took a turn for the unexpected when the show's dashing Irish star Aidan Turner was 'mobbed' online by adoring fans.

Turner, who plays the series’ lead, Ross Poldark, joined a Twitter Q&A directly after the fourth episode of the programme to answer questions about the series from fans, but ended up fielding marriage proposals and more.

With the hashtag #askpoldark, the Q&A was meant to provide a forum for questions about the series and Turner's acting career, but soon descended into chaos as it was "swamped with lustful fans", who were more interested in Turner's hair, chest and sex life, reports the Daily Telegraph.

"My mower has packed in. Will you come and scythe my lawn please?" asked one fan. "How do I refrain from licking my flatscreen TV?" asked another. "Will you marry me?" asked many others.

Turner made a valiant attempt to answer the more sensible questions, describing his horse-riding skills and the favourite qualities of his character, and admitting that he sometimes forgot to remove his famous scar. He also responded to the news of a Twitter account dedicated to his hair, as "pretty hilarious!" But those hoping for a reply to their marriage proposals were left disappointed.

Meanwhile the critics and newspaper columnists were equally besotted.In The Independent, TV critic Ellen E Jones writes that "Aidan Turner's glistening pecs left us in no doubt about his credentials as television's new romantic hero", adding that Darcy's wet shirt now looks prudish by comparison.

Yes, writes Sarah Manning in The Guardian, "In Ross Poldark, we have reached romantic hero nirvana".

Manning explains: "Stripped to the waist, his pecs lightly furred, a faint, photogenic sheen of sweat delineating his six-pack, the sun glinting on his dark Byronic tumble of curls, the classic patrician lines of his face given distinction by the devilish scar that lovingly caressed one sharp cheekbone, Captain Ross Poldark treated the nation to some hot scything action on Sunday night – and the nation did swoon".

A well-rounded alpha male is hard to find, says Manning. But Poldark is part alpha male, part metrosexual, with a social conscience, all combined in one HD-ready, smouldering package. She adds: "Reader, I'd marry him."

Despite the unruly Q&A, the Beeb, which has needed a new period-drama heartthrob since Benedict Cumberbatch got hitched, must be thrilled, writes Katie Glass in the Sunday Times. Poldark's promotional trailer which features the actor "swimming naked" and "flicking his hair in the crystal-blue swash" in what he describes as his "Timotei moment" worked.

Poldark has consistently drawn between six and seven million viewers since it first aired. The eight-part series, which is now halfway through, is broadcast on BBC One at 9pm every Sunday. 

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