Poldark, one of the UK’s most beloved and enduring period dramas, is getting an update, and heartthrob Aidan Turner is leading the cast of the long-awaited remake.
Turner, perhaps best known for his roles as the vampire John Mitchell in the hit BBC fantasy series Being Human, and as Kili the dwarf in the blockbuster The Hobbit film trilogy, takes on the title role of Ross Poldark in a new BBC One adaptation of Poldark, the sweeping British saga that many call the British Gone with the Wind.
About casting Turner, Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, stated: “We are really excited. He is a brilliant actor, he is part of the BBC family, we are incredibly thrilled he is coming back from Hollywood from The Hobbit in order to lead Poldark for BBC One.”
Based on the Poldark novels by Winston Graham, the new series is adapted by Debbie Horsfield (All the Small Things), directed by Ed Bazalgette (Endeavour), and produced by Mammoth Screen (Parade’s End).
Said Turner about the role: “I’m very excited to play Ross Poldark for the BBC and it’s obviously a huge challenge to honour the extraordinary character Winston Graham created and who Debbie Horsfield has brought new life to. But there’s a terrific team coming together and the scripts are superb, so I can’t wait to get started.”
Damien Timmer, executive producer for Mammoth Screen, said: “Ross Poldark is an iconic role — we needed an actor with the right combination of striking looks, youthful rebelliousness, emotional complexity and maturity of presence which hints at the man he becomes across the saga. In our minds there was only one candidate. Happily he said yes!”
And Andrew Graham, Winston Graham’s son, added: “I am delighted at the choice of Aidan Turner as Ross, as I am sure my father would have been. Ross in the novels was a man of dark good looks, impulsive temperament, strong loyalties and deep emotions. I am greatly looking forward to seeing Aidan bring all these qualities freshly to life.”
The series opens in 1783 with Polark’s return to Cornwall after the Revolutionary War in America. While Cornwall itself is beautiful, the world he finds there isn’t. Not only is Britain in the grips of a recession and civil unrest, his father is dead, the family’s tin mine is closed, and his home is in shambles.
To make matters worse, thoughts of returning to the arms of his beloved are shattered when he discovers that she, in believing that Poldark had died during the war, is now betrothed to his cousin. (Ouch.)
What’s a fella to do? Build a new life with a new wife (from a lower social class, no less) and rebuild the family estate and business. But trouble is in the offing, and not just because he still carries a torch for Elizabeth (yet to be cast).
Filming of the series’ eight hour-long episodes begins in Cornwall and Bristol in April 2014 for transmission on BBC One in 2015.
There is no word yet on whether the new Poldark will screen stateside, and if so, whether it will do so on PBS, which televised both of the original Poldark series on Masterpiece Theatre in the 1970s, so stay tuned.
UPDATE: PBS will air Poldark in 2015. See “Confirmed: New Poldark Adaptation to Air in the US on PBS” for details.
For those who haven’t seen the original Poldark — voted #7 out of 35 seasons’ worth of Masterpiece Theatre programs in a 2006 survey — all 29 episodes are available for streaming at Acorn TV and Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix has the DVDs.