Chest hair, fake tan and tattoos: How Aidan Turner was transformed into Poldark’s sex symbol

The drama's make-up and hair stylist Jaqueline Fowler reveals to Radio Times how she groomed the actor into a Cornish heartthrob...

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The Aidan Effect is strong. Since the Poldark actor first rode along the Cornish cliffs, and into our lives, last month, he’s been a hot topic. His brooding demeanour, his bronzed torso and above all, his hair, which was such a hit it could star in its own spin-off show. So to get in on the action, Radio Times spoke the show’s Bafta-winning make-up and hair stylist Jaqueline Fowler about how she got everyone talking about (and lusting after) Aidan Turner…

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See Poldark’s cast and crew talking about the smash-hit show at Radio Times Festival…

Joining them will be Andrew Graham, who’ll discuss his father’s writing, including the book Poldark’s Cornwall, which highlights the show’s other main attraction – the setting itself.


First of all, was it clear to everyone on set that Aidan would become a massive heartthrob?

Aidan is such a special bunny. What was more important to him was getting Poldark the character right. The looks department wasn’t his main concern – that was my problem. He’s good looking anyway and it was my problem to bring out the best in him. I just wanted to make him look drop dead gorgeous. He’s got an appeal across all ages. My mum’s quite into him.

Why did you want him to have long, tousled hair?

I didn’t want him looking like Darcy again. I just saw Poldark with longer hair. There is that iconic shot which I absolutely love of the wind blowing in both of their [Ross and Demelza] hair on the mountain top. That’s how I wanted it – free and unkempt and tousled and sexy. That’s what a modern audience want to see. It was my job to make sure that he became an icon. If he had short hair would he still be the icon? Probably, but who knows? I think this has done him more favours.

And those sideburns?

We played around with different sideburns. I went more pointy in the beginning and then I took a risk and chopped a corner off. He is very hairy. He grows good facial hair, his stubble will grow overnight really quickly. Every morning there was a ritual of how I took that down.

What about his chest hair? Did you have to do any trimming?

I did, I’m afraid. I clipped it right down. And his underarm hair. I didn’t want to take it all off but I wanted it to be stylized. Also, it’s just easier with the body make-up not to have it as long.

On the topic of body make-up, how much of it did Aidan need?

I only had to cover up his tattoos – he’s got two on his upper arm, one of them is Chinese writing, the other I can’t remember – if he was shirtless or in bed. With his body make-up, there was a tan that we put on him. When he was in Cornwall he got a bit of his own tan but when he didn’t, we put a fake one on.

While we’re still on the subject of his body, did he do lots of working out?

He went to the gym and he watched what he ate. He did say to me in a cute Irish way, “sorry, I might be a bit grumpy because I’m starving”.  

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Poldark is on Sundays at 9pm on BBC1