The next series of Aidan Turner drama Poldark will start on BBC1 in June, RadioTimes.com can exclusively reveal.
A BBC spokeswoman confirmed the news: “The earlier filming schedule on this series means that we can bring the much anticipated third series back sooner for fans to Sunday nights in June.”
The second series aired in the autumn against ITV drama Victoria but senior BBC sources were insistent that the decision for series 3 was not about avoiding a clash with rival show but about giving viewers a "summer treat".
Other sources also point to the fact that the first series of Poldark aired in the spring, with production sources noting that it would fill what can sometimes be a barren time for drama lovers.
Filming for series 3 started in September, a little earlier than series two started filming, as the team sought to get some better weather than the rather gloomy and wintry recent run of episodes.
However fans of both dramas and Mammoth Screen - which makes both Poldark and Victoria - will be happy that the Cornish period drama avoids a likely clash with the second series of the rival ITV drama starring Jenna Coleman which is expected to air in the autumn again.
The scheduling clash split the audience last autumn with both shows averaging just over 6 million viewers. Series 1 of Poldark averaged more than 8m viewers per episode and a move to earlier in the year has long been on the cards as RadioTimes.com
revealed last September.
Earlier this year, Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson said that the decision to schedule the drama against ITV period show Victoria last autumn was a “real shame”.
Speaking at the Radio Times Covers Party, the actress, who plays Ross Poldark's wife Demelza, insisted that the audience shouldn’t have
had to choose between the Cornish period drama and ITV's series.
“I think it’s a real shame that they came out at the same time. It doesn’t make any sense to me!” she said in the interview (below). “I think it did split the audience. At the end we were equal and that’s really good. I think Poldark pulled through.”
Poldark series 3: what should we expect? Watch the video below
At the end of series two, Turner's Ross saved his wife and the villagers from a capital charge of incitement to riot. And he also inadvertently saved his rival George Warleggan and Elizabeth (Heida Reed), now ensconced in Trenwith as a married couple, while patching things up with Demelza. Dwight Enys and Caroline were reunited and Elizabeth is about to have a baby.
Turner will be returning for series 3 as will Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza, along with Heida Reed as Elizabeth, Jack Farthing as dastardly George Warleggan, Ruby Bentall as Verity, Luke Norris as Dr Dwight Enys and Caroline Blakiston as Aunt Agatha.
Series two's new additions – Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen and John Nettles as Ray Penvenen – have also been named in the cast, as has Beatie Edney who will return as Prudie Painter. But she will be without her husband, the lovable scamp Jud (Phil Davis).
There will be a rather colourful new vicar –
Osborne Whitworth, below – who will be causing mayhem in Cornwall.
He is played by Christian Brassington – who was Boris Johnson in the More4 drama-documentary When Boris Met Dave. And as we can see, the character (played by Christopher Biggins in the 1970s Poldark) has some very nasty friends...
Demelza's brothers - free-spirited rogue Drake (Harry Richardson) and deeply religious Sam (Tom York) - will also appear.
Scriptwriter Debbie Horsfield said: "We're thrilled to be kicking off series three with a fantastic array of new characters and a story which scales new heights of conflict, feuding, passion and drama.
"Ross is older but not necessary wiser, and his recklessness sometimes costs him, and his loved ones, dear. We're in for a rollercoaster ride where the stakes have never been higher."
Before June, Poldark fans can get their fix of Aidan Turner who will be appearing at this weekend’s BFI & Radio Times Television Festival on on Saturday April 8.
He will be appearing on a panel with writer Debbie Horsfield and executive producer Damien Timmer in in Poldark: Old-fashioned Hero for a Modern World. You can book tickets
On the same day Woman’s Hour’s Jane Garvey will be talking Victoria with actors Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes, writer-creator Daisy Goodwin and Timmer again. You can book tickets for that session - The Unlacing of Victoria: A discussion with actors Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes, and crew -