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Poldark TV Review – A Romantic Period Drama To Swoon Over

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THE SHOW: Poldark

WHERE: PBS

WHEN: Sundays at 9/8c

THE CAST: Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Kyle Soller, Heida Reed, Ruby Bentall

THE SETUP: Based on the famous book series by Winston Graham, Poldark tells the story of Ross Poldark after he returns home from the American Revolutionary War. On his return, he discovers his childhood love is now engaged to his cousin, his father dead and his home in shambles. From there, Ross rebuilds his life from nothing (against the advice of everyone) as he finds himself falling in love with a poor girl.


As soon as I heard the BBC was doing an adaptation of Poldark with Aidan Turner in the lead role, I knew this was going to be a series to watch out for. With Turner’s on-screen charisma and striking, almost wild good looks there literally was no one else who could play the moody, Byronic but loveable and heroic Poldark. Apparently the writer, Debbie Horsfield, felt the same. He was offered the role without an audition and the rest is history.

RELATED: Poldark is Coming…

Known for roles such as Kili in The Hobbit films, Luke in The Mortal Instruments and Mitchell in the supernatural drama Being Human, Aidan Turner’s been a star on the rise for a few years now. But this epic, romantic role is sure to catapult Turner into Colin Firth or Richard Armitage like status for their performances as Mr. Darcy and Mr. Thornton.

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After this, every period drama fan will love Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark. Though I’d say he’s closer in character to Thornton with some Rochester and Heathcliff thrown into the mix than Darcy.

Besides Aidan Turner as the charismatic lead, the rest of the cast also shines. Eleanor Tomlinson (The Illusionist) is wonderful as the likable Demelza who works for Poldark (after he rescues her from being abused) and then falls in love with him. She’s naïve, innocent and even a bit wild, but she has a heart of gold that will make everyone root for her. Ruby Bentall (Lark Rise to Candleford and The Paradise) is also a scene stealer as Verity, the neglected “ugly duckling” of the Poldark family. Single and treated unfairly by her family, she is very close to her outsider cousin Ross who treats her as an equal.

You’ll also find yourself sympathizing with Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and her unfortunate circumstances after she goes through with marrying Francis, Ross’ cousin. Francis (as played by Kyle Soller) is both sympathetic and narcissistic. A tragic figure, his own choices lead him down a self-destructive path that is heart-wrenching to watch.

Then there’s the villain, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing). He is almost completely unsympathetic, though always three dimensional. Despite the dislike most will feel for him, you do understand his motivations. He’s like one of those bullies on the playground who thinks bullying others will make him friends eventually.

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On top of the memorable performances, the production quality is extraordinary with breathtaking cinematography, fabulous writing and a fitting musical score. Poldark doesn’t really take any missteps if you’re looking for an impressive period drama.

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If you combined a Bronte novel with Dickens, you might find Poldark.

Poldark is also wonderfully romantic without being just about the romance. The love story between Ross and Demelza will likely make women swoon everywhere, but the social commentary and deep themes make the love story all the stronger. Poldark is not simply a romance, but rather a drama with a strong romantic angle. In fact, Poldark is a show that everyone can enjoy, even if you aren’t into romance. This is not a cheesy production. The story includes serious content like extreme poverty, abuse, murder and corruption. If you combined a Bronte novel with Dickens, you might find Poldark.

That all said, Poldark is not your graphic, cable network like series. So if you’re looking for lots of violence and sex you will be disappointed. But if you don’t mind the old-fashioned storytelling, you may love this series. If you love shows like Outlander, but perhaps find the graphic content unsettling, Poldark may be the better fit. It’s every bit as romantic with beautiful countryside and accurate costumes, yet is more old-fashioned in the presentation. I’d say Poldark is more akin in style to Downton Abbey. And while Poldark is nothing like Downton Abbey story wise (or even time period), the level of quality and PG content is similar, so if you’re a fan of Downton, you should love Poldark.

In all, if you love historical fiction, period dramas, well written characters, old-fashioned romance or even Byronic Heroes, Poldark is must see television. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best series I’ve seen in years.

If you’ve missed the first two episodes that have already aired on PBS, no big deal as you can catch up and watch the episodes online at PBS.org.


Photos: BBC/PBS

Overall Rating

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“The stuff that dreams are made of.”

Romance Rating

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“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

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By on June 29th, 2015

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a blogger/writer full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She loved doing Shirley Temple impersonations and creating plays with her siblings. Amber did cheerleading, dance, wrote stories, and ultimately discovered her passion for writing and video editing. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are to publish books, write and produce movies, travel around the world, and form a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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14 thoughts on “Poldark TV Review – A Romantic Period Drama To Swoon Over”

  1. I absoulutey love this adaptation of the Poldark novels. Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are amazing! The whole production is beautiful. Don’t miss it!

    Reply
  2. This sounds right up my alley! I was so mad when Outlander proved to be so graphic and unpleasant to watch, but this sounds like the perfect alternative. Aidan was a scene-stealer in the Hobbit. Consider this on my list.

    Reply
  3. This series is so amazing.. I never watched the classic one from the 70s, but the modern adaptation is wonderful.. I’m even contemplating ordering the books on my kindle, because i can’t wait for series 2…While i’m addicted to this show, i can’t stand Outlander, i think i made it to ten minutes before having to turn it off, i didn’t care for the lead heroine, but demelza i can totally relate to..

    Reply
  4. It’s currently airing the 3rd season right? Does it get graphic or is it still safe to watch on a widescreen telly in a living room for anyone to see? I wouldn’t want my mom to be scandalized >_<

    Reply
    • Third season has just finished in the UK. I’ve watched and to my knowledge, nothing too graphic. There are some war scenes and a few brief love scenes.

      Reply
      • thank you! i watched up to 4 episodes of season 1 yesterday. It’s been great so far! I love the old-fashioned storytelling and pacing.

        Reply

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