The Version Interview... Aidan Turner on Series 2 of Poldark
Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are back on BBC One this September 4 at 9pm with a second series of the hugely popular Cornish saga Poldark, adapted from Winston Graham's Poldark series.
The debut series peaked with 9.4 million viewers across TV and iPlayer, generating phenomenal media interest and devotion from viewers which culminated in it winning the Radio Times Audience Award at this year’s Baftas.
Turner returns as hero Ross Poldark and Tomlinson as his wife Demelza. This series introduces other key characters including John Nettles (Midsomer Murders) as Ray Penvenen, one of the county's wealthiest landowners, and Gabriella Wilde (Endless Love) as his niece Caroline Penvenen, a beautiful and manipulative heiress. Hugh Skinner (W1A) plays Unwin Trevaunance, a prospective MP who hopes that Caroline (and her fortune) will consent to marry him. But does Caroline's heart lie elsewhere?
Also back for the second series are Heida Reed as Elizabeth, Kyle Soller as Francis, Ruby Bentall as Verity, Jack Farthing as George Warleggan and Luke Norris as Dr Dwight Enys. Beatie Edney and Phil Davis return as Jud Paynter and his wife Prudie and Robin Ellis reprises his role as the Reverend Halse.
1790 and there is riot and revolution in the air. Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) must fight for his freedom when George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) tries to have him hanged as a revolutionary. While Francis (Kyle Soller) and Elizabeth (Heida Reed) watch on in horror, can Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) save Ross from himself?
Crippled by debts, Ross and Francis try to heal old wounds by joining forces in a new mine free of the Warleggans. Ross and Elizabeth are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances, and Ross risks everything in a desperate smuggling venture. Meanwhile, the fate of the Poldarks is tied to Dr Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) and young heiress Caroline Penvenen (Gabriella Wilde) in unexpected ways.
The Poldark clan must learn to settle their differences once and for all, but at what cost?
When audiences last saw Ross Poldark he was facing trial and possible hanging. Aidan Turner reveals there are dark times ahead for our hero - but with Ross you never know what to expect...
We pick up with the opening of the second series exactly where we left off. It’s an incredibly hard time for Ross and Demelza, having just lost Julia, as well as having trouble with his company and potentially having to face execution. It’s as bad as it’s ever been for them both.
Losing Julia will have huge consequences on Ross’s psyche. He is the type of person who wants the weight of the world on his shoulders if it keeps it off of other people, but it breaks him to see Demelza suffering because he knows he can’t do anything about it. Ross needs to be in command, to be the leader or the captain of every situation, but this is completely out of his control. They are broke and you see Ross and Demelza selling their furniture in the first few episodes, which is a humiliating and desperate situation to be in.
However, Ross is always on the front foot, he’s not somebody who gets too down about things. It is a dark time but he has gone through worse in the past, and is someone who tends to thrive in dark periods of his life. He tries to stay positive and keeps trying to reinvent his business and opening new mines, taking on new men even though he can’t afford it. Ross doesn’t want anyone to feel pity for him which is noble in many ways, but he is emotionally inarticulate and if he learned to free that up it would make life for him and those around him a little bit easier.
Although series two does not bring about much initial joy for Ross, Aidan reveals it was an amazing feeling coming back to work after the success of the first series...
It was lovely to come back knowing that the first series went out and it was popular, it’s a real morale booster on set. It’s also very flattering because we all worked really hard on the first series and it seems like it paid off. It’s great because we enjoy doing what we do and we want the show to continue. There is so much more of this story to tell, so it kind of needed to be a hit!
Whilst Aidan and the rest of the cast are greatly responsible for the success of the first series, Aidan makes sure the credit goes where it is due..
When you step outside your trailer you realise there are so many people working twenty times harder than you are and it is a very humbling experience. We have a very talented team. It’s a cliché thing to say but we are like a family. We have intimate and close relationships with everyone because they’re in your face all day. We’re very lucky to have the talented team we have.
Two members of Poldark's talented team are the show’s leading ladies, Heida Reid as Elizabeth Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as Ross’s wife, Demelza. Aidan reveals what this series has in store for this complicated love triangle...
Ross’s relationship with Demelza suffers at the hand of his relationship with Elizabeth this series. It is hard to know why he can’t just let Elizabeth go, but when you idealise someone for so long which he did when he was away at war it is hard to turn off those feelings.
It was only through falling in love with Demelza and beginning this new life that he was initially able to deal with the marriage of Elizabeth to his cousin Francis. Ross also feels under a burden of obligation to Elizabeth to support her financially after Francis is gone, and to look after Geoffrey Charles, and as a result of this he gets slightly confused emotionally over where he lies with Elizabeth. His own marriage isn’t going so well and he makes a big mistake that nearly destroys his relationship with Demelza.
Eleanor is incredible. She’s one of those actors who directors don’t even give notes to, she just does it so well herself. I am extremely envious of that. She gives you so much, and her instincts are always brilliant. Demelza is confident and independent, and a fierce female character. She has really grown into herself more and become even stronger so it is great to see her take control at the end. She makes the final decision and it’s the first time you see Ross’s vulnerability. He is out of his depth with the emotional dialogue, which is interesting to play because a lot of it goes over his head and he puts his foot in it with her.
Ross is a man of principle but the question of Ross’s morality is raised when he ventures back into the business of smuggling...
Smuggling is a challenge Ross can take on; he knows a lot about it and is good at it. They desperately need the money and having rescued Demelza from abject poverty he feels duty-bound to make sure she has everything. The weight of having to provide as well as losing your daughter and having a business that has collapsed, makes it feel like everything is failing in his life. This, however, is something he can actually control.
Ross just wants to graft and to figure out a way to make everything right. He wants to be the sole provider and leader in that regard. When Ross is in debt he borrows more money to get out of it - he’s a gambler and that’s in his blood. If he is not chasing a copper vein down the mine, he’s at a card table handing over the deed to his house or his dad’s watch. Ross lives on the edge, you never quite know what to expect with Ross which is exciting and what I like about him.
The audience sees Ross very much living on the edge this series, embroiled in several fisticuffs with arch-rival, George Warleggan...
Ross’s continuing feud with George hits new heights this series. There is no such thing as loyalty for George. He doesn’t understand what friendship is; he only cares about money and the Warleggan name. George desperately wants Ross dead and if he can’t get him physically put into some sort of prison he wants to destroy his heart.
I really enjoy the fight scenes, they are so much fun. George is working out, he’s boxing and training so he is well able to handle himself these days which makes the fight more interesting. He’s quite vicious in some of these fights. There’s a lot of strangling and throwing ourselves into bookcases, and smashing glass. I put his head into a fire at one stage! Jack (Farthing) is a lovely guy, that’s probably why I enjoy the fight scenes so much because I really like him. He is such a brilliant actor, and I have learnt so much from him.
From tragedy and fistfights to gambling and love triangles, Ross Poldark is on a particularly eventful journey in the second series. It is no wonder why Aidan loves playing the people’s hero...
He has everything. Ross is a very complex and layered character and there is so much going on with him all of the time. There is no black and white. He is a man of principles and moral code and I like that but at the same time he is never dull. He feels like a real person to me not just this iconic literary character, and that comes with good writing and character development from both Winston Graham and Debbie Horsfield. I can’t imagine ever getting bored.
Poldark returns to BBC One, Sunday 4 September 2016 at 9pm.