Last month,as many followers of The Anglophile Channel know, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Poldark Season Two Premiere! Poldark season two picks up with every bit of intensity as when season one left us with a literal cliffhanger: Ross, on a cliff, being dragged away under accusation of plunder and murder, while Demelza was left helplessly alone. The collection of Poldark fans in attendance for the Poldark premiere at the British Film Institute that Monday evening given by Mammoth Screen had the atmosphere abuzz with expectation and were not disappointed.
I won’t give anything away but I will say that when this first episode ended, there was a collective gasp then a groan as we all realized we would have to wait (WAIT!?!) to see what happens next. It won’t spoil he plot away to say that the new characters introduced make the imagination whirl to embrace the possibilities they bring with them, and the twists and turns in the story make those of us not yet familiar with the books writhe in suspense, and, those who are, anxious to see how the story will be told.
There were smiles all around as the lights came up, and in my talks with audience members, there were only positive comments, even from those who are devotees of the earlier adaptation. This season has more episodes and only covers one and a half books, so we will get a little more time with each story. I promise no spoilers so feel free to read on.
Before the screening of episode one of season two, there was a reception upstairs a the BFI. I was graciously escorted up by executive producer and Dish supporter, Damien Timmer who got me started by introducing me to some of the cast and brilliantly talented writer Debbie Horsfield.
It’s always awkward when you are lurking and trying to speak with people you don’t know personally at a party—and I tend to be a little shy anyway– but everyone I spoke to was very kind. Mammoth Screen collects a lovely group of actors who are all absolutely delighted to be working on Poldark.
I felt very welcomed and have an even greater affection for the show knowing what a great group of people work both off and onscreen to create it. Here at The Anglophile Channel we don’t press for spoilers or scoops, neither would we want to spoil the upcoming season even if we knew something, but there are a few little stories and photos to share.
I introduced myself to Jack Farthing. He agreed that the people at Mammoth Screen were exceptional. I mentioned how they seem to use their actors again in other projects and he told me that he had previously played a role in Blandings for Mammoth Screen before Poldark, and how they then gave him the opportunity to play the dashing villain we love to hate, George Warleggen.
He plays a most charming, scheming villain, but is a very grounded, funny young man. I asked if anything about working in a period drama ever overlaps into modern life. He replied no, but it did show him how atrocious his posture is when he changes from the rigidity of his costume into his every day clothes.
The lovely Beatie Edney isn’t content with doing just one series. She’s also working on The Coroner, which she tells me is also scheduled to air in the US. I fangirled out all over the poor woman by babbling on about how much I adored the version of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” she did onstage in the late 80’s with Lindsay Duncan and the late Alan Rickman. I lamented his loss along with that of David Bowie earlier in the year as great talents gone far too soon, but she gently reminded me that she lost something even more treasured, a dear friend. What a special lady she is! She is so luminous in person that was a jolt to see her “grubbied up” on screen. Prudie gets some gloriously dramatic moments in season two. I wouldn’t want to cross Prudie.
Caroline Blakiston introduced herself as Aunt Agatha then told me that she was drawn to the role because “Aunt Agatha is subversive, but not as subversive as I am”.
It is no spoiler to let you know she still has all the funniest lines in the show and delivers them with absolute perfection. Caroline has an incredible resume reflecting a long and distinguished career. She confessed she hadn’t read the Poldark books because when she was doing The Forsyte Saga in the 60’s, her drama coach told her to only read the script and develop the character from that text rather than the book. Inevitably, she explained, you will find a scene in the book that you feel is pivotal, but it won’t be in the script and you’ll have your heart broken. She has a point. How many of us read a book and are disappointed when a film or television adaptation doesn’t include our favorite bits? She is an avid gardener and full of the most wonderful stories. In half a moment she sized me up as an actress and recommended a play that I should go see, “TheTruth” at Wyndhams Theatre in the West End. Caroline told me that she’d approached the box office staff to inquire about a ticket. She asked them to choose the seat for her which “you would give me if I were your granny”. They sorted her ticket, and she asked “If I were your granny, where you send me for a cup of tea nearby?” so they sent her around the corner to Pret a Manger. She returned with a brownie as a gift for the box office staff. Later in the week, I was treated to a lovely night out by my friend Sarah Beebe who happens to work at Wyndhams box office and told her Caroline’s story. Sarah burst into a huge smile and said that of course she remembered Caroline although she didn’t recognize her at the time. Sarah added to the story by telling me that the brownie Caroline gave them was wrapped in a napkin on which was written “with love from your granny”. They had a terrible day at the box office dealing with a few exceptionally rude customers and Caroline changed the tone of and made their day. The staff had pinned the napkin up on their bulletin board to remind them that customers can be absolutely lovely. Later in the week I went to see “The Truth”, wonderful Sarah sorted out my tickets this time, and I enjoyed it immensely. As always, Aunt Agatha was right!
The post-screening panel for the Poldark premiere included executive producer Damien Timmer, writer Debbie Horsfield, Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson who were asked about what they looked forward to in returning to Cornwall to begin filming season three. When we watch Poldark we see the breathtaking scenery of Cornwall is more than just a backdrop. It is almost a character in the story. Besides bemoaning the intermittent and dodgy mobile signals, everyone mentioned the weather. The wind was so very loud sometimes that during scenes between Ross and Demelza the actors would have to squeeze each other‘s hands as a cue to let the other know it was time to begin their next lines. Aidan Turner said he felt at time like he was shouting and worried how it would look on screen. On a more cheerful note, Eleanor Tomlinson said the thing she most looked forward to when returning to Cornwall was having fish and chips!
Aidan Turner was much in demand and I wasn’t able to chat with him very long at the reception, but he was very forthcoming in the Q&A after the screening. He relishes playing Ross Poldark with all his flaws as it makes him a more interestingly complex character, very real and multi- dimensional. He admitted he got quite a bit of fan mail, some containing multiple phone numbers (home, cell, another just in case the recipient “is abroad”) but generally the fans stay respectful.Eleanor Tomlinson said she has received letters with an enclosed message which the fan begs her to pass on to Aidan! Aidan’s face lit up when an Irish member of the audience would ask a question and he’d smile and respond with Irish greetings which charmed us all. A member of the audience who went to the same school brought him a copy of some scenes he had filmed back in their schooldays, and his reaction and laughter made us all really want to see what was on that disk.
When asked if he ever wanted to direct, Aidan gave a very thoughtful answer. He told us he was interested in all the aspects of production and is quite the tech geek when on set. He also confessed to being a bit of a “control freak” about his ideas and so much would be out of his hands that he didn’t think he would enjoy it. Then he stopped, paused, and said he would be interested in directing theatre because it was more likely to reflect his vision for a project. He went on to answer questions with good humour, lots of laughs and gave us all a tiny glimpse of the man who puts his all into playing one of our favourite characters, Ross Poldark.
Stunning Eleanor Tomlinson asked me not to take her solo photo at the reception as she wasn’t feeling well. Of course, to me she still looked exquisite, but I understand. One of her most endearing qualities as Demelza is the chemistry she brings to all the relationships within the story. You even completely believe her affection for Garrick! Although under the weather, she rallied for the Q&A panel after the screening and sparkled while answering questions. There was a moment when Aidan left slip when asked what were the most difficult scenes, that a certain day was their “first kiss as actors”. The look on her face was absolutely priceless. When asked about the love scenes she said that they laugh their way through because it’s all very unromantic. “Put your hand right there because I don’t want people seeing that bit” got a laugh from the crowd, but not as big a laugh as when an audience member asked if Aidan would prefer to do a love scene with Demelza or a fight scene with George Warleggan. She deadpanned” be careful” and he innocently replied, “The fight with George”. Her most terrifying day on set was her singing scene, which came early in the filming schedule of the first season She told us that she read the books to inform her character and worked with a dialect coach on the Cornish accent to get it just right and allows it be just slightly lighter as the story progresses to show the evolution of Demelza.
She showed us a fire in her eyes when she admitted to being “fiercely competitive” referencing the mini-series Victoria which was being aired opposite Poldark. She wanted to win the ratings war! We don’t have to make the choice here in America, and even in the UK, most people will figure out how to watch them both. The second season of Poldark promises some pretty dramatic stuff for Demelza, and we can’t wait to see her in action.
Following the screening I met up with some lovely people who watch PoldarkDish. They asked if I had read the books yet as I said I was anxious to do so on an episode of the Dish. To my great shame, I hadn’t even begun yet. Last week, a friend loaned me the first two with the promise of more to come when I had finished. So next time, let’s talk books!