Poldark cast desperate to sound intelligible after Jamaica Inn mumble-gate fiasco

Star Aidan Turner reveals he was "spooked" and anxious to enunciate clearly after the fuss over BBC’s last Cornish-set period romp

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After the Jamaica Inn mumbling saga last year, the makers of the BBC’s latest Cornish-set period drama Poldark were extra vigilant about the clarity of the acting.

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“We have got a lot of cast members who are Cornish which was helpful so other members of the cast who needed to speak with a Cornish accent could go to the source,” scriptwriter Debbie Horsfield tells RadioTimes.com.

“We also had a dialect coach. People will be on the lookout for [mumbling], but that’s understandable.”

The drama’s star Aidan Turner adds: “I didn’t see the show [Jamaica Inn] but the fuss about it spooked us all a lot. We started shooting a few weeks later and I can tell you all the actors were aiming for 10 out of 10 on enunciation. I’m doing posh RP [Received Pronunciation] anyway so it didn’t really affect me directly, but I was scared, yes”. 

It is understood that Jamaica Inn suffered from a “perfect storm” of issues. The main problems were technical, but the intelligibility of some of the actors also contributed. In particular, Sean Harris, who played the landlord of Jamaica Inn and wicked uncle of Mary Yellan (Jessica Brown Findlay), came in for criticism.

An estimated 2000 viewers complained to the BBC about the mumbling and around a quarter of the audience gave up on the drama – the 6.1 million that tuned into Easter Monday’s opening episode dropped to 4.5 million for episode two.

In Poldark, Turner plays a stubborn but heroic Cornishman who returns from the American War of Independence to discover that his father has died and his fiancee is betrothed to another man. 

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Poldark begins on BBC1 on March 8th at 9pm