Poldark returns: what next for Cornwall’s bare-chested hero?
Will Demelza continue to put up with Ross’s shenanigans? Will he get his shirt off?
It looks like Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) are on good terms again. Photograph: Robert Viglasky
Gather up your corn dollies, hoist your corset stays and wield your scythe with purpose, because it’s back. Poldark returns this Sunday, cementing its reputation as one of the BBC’s biggest hits of recent years.
Set in 1794, this series promises “new loves and new battles, as the French revolution casts a shadow over life in Cornwall”. Cue another outbreak of Poldark fever sparked by Ross Poldark’s semi-naked scything. (Think I’m exaggerating? The search terms “Aidan Turner chest” yield more than 36m hits on Google. Poldark itself pulls in around 5m viewers.)
But where can they go after all the twists and turns of the first two series? Will Aunt Agatha be the only person who notices that Elizabeth’s baby looks rather a lot like Ross? Is there any hope for the doomed romance between Sindy doll-lookalike Caroline Penvenen and scurvy expert Dr Dwight Enys?
Will Demelza finally push Ross off a cliff? And can Team Poldark pull off a third outing following the Turbulent Second Series. (This is code for: the series that featured a controversial rape plotline).
There are essentially two stories we care about in Poldark: Ross’s rivalry with George and the Ross-Demelza-Elizabeth love triangle. Other subplots come and go, but these two never even hint at being resolved.
All signs indicate that this twin narrative will continue in the new series, although there are several key new characters to shake things up. This series is based on books five and six of the original Poldark saga, the 1973 novel The Black Moon and the first half of The Four Swans, published in 1976.
This is a slight departure from the previous two series that swallowed up two books per series. (But don’t panic, Poldark fans, the end is nowhere near in sight. There are 12 novels in total, so at this rate there could still be another four or five series.)
As series two finished, we knew that Elizabeth was pregnant with a baby that might be Ross’s or might be George’s. Evil George had made multiple attempts to destroy all Ross’s business ideas (which were usually either rubbish or illegal anyway).
Ross and Demelza were struggling financially, came to blows over Ross’s obsession with Elizabeth and finally reconciled, albeit not very believably. So what’s next?
The shirt’s coming off
Only this time it’s not Ross Poldark stripping. Following endless coverage about Ross’s torso, it almost seemed as if last series Turner must have negotiated a cover-up clause in his contract.
This season the services of a decoy torso have been enlisted in the shape of Demelza’s hot younger brother, Blake Carne (Australian actor Harry Richardson). The other brother, Sam Carne (played by Tom York), seems less likely to get involved in The Great Torso Contest as he is “a charismatic Methodist minister”. But this is Cornwall; anything is possible.
Demelza and Ross are back on good terms ... temporarily. “With you beside me, whatever life sends ...” “We can face it.” Ross is finishing Demelza’s sentences in the trailer. Can that last for long? In series two, Demelza had had enough of Ross running off to Elizabeth, while viewers had had enough of him by the time the controversial was-it-rape-or-not scene was aired. Now all that is forgotten and everything is rosy. But Eleanor Tomlinson has hinted that Demelza’s loyalty to Ross will be severely tested, thanks to the arrival of Lieutenant Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse, as seen in Northern Soul).
Bergerac is back!
The on-off romance between the aristocratic Caroline Penvenen and the down-to-earth doctor Dwight Enys was a focal point of the last series. We left them engaged but with an uncertain future as Dr Enys has joined the army. Gabriella Wilde (Caroline) and Luke Norris (Enys) have both signed up for this series, as has Bergerac, sorry, John Nettles, sorry Caroline’s Uncle Ray. No news yet on Horace the pug.
Poldark is on BBC1 on Sunday 11 June at 9pm.