We’ve waited almost 18 months for the new series of Poldark. That’s nearly a year and a half without Ross Poldark’s brooding stare and that rippling landscape (we’re talking about the Cornish setting, by the way, not Aidan Turner’s torso).
How have we coped? The mind boggles. But the wait is nearly over with the new series set to begin this Sunday (at 9pm on BBC1).
Now, right this moment you’re probably rubbing your head, struggling to haul your mind back to April 2015 and that series finale. The memories are a little hazy, so do let us be of service in untangling the web of character and plot strands that ended with the cliffhanger on a real life cliff…
Captain Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner)
It wasn’t looking good for Ross Poldark when last we met. As if life hadn’t been hard enough for our brooding hero – following the death of his daughter Julia and the near-fatal illness of his wife Demelza – Aidan Turner’s former soldier was led down the cliffside in handcuffs, charged with murder and wrecking. The source of the storm lay in a wrecked ship – a ship belonging to George Warleggan – which Poldark decided would do a good job of providing food for the starving mining population. What a great guy he is. But with his cargo plundered, George was baying for his rival’s blood and it wasn’t long before Ross was in custody facing down the heavy hand of the law.
Demelza Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson)
While you’re feeling sorry for Ross, spare a thought for his poor wife Demelza. Still recovering from a dangerous bout of putrid throat (known to us as diphtheria) and grieving the loss of her child, Mrs Poldark was last seen staring in horror as her husband was led from her arms by ‘the law’. It had been a steep rise for Demelza – the miner’s daughter who shocked local society by wedding a gentleman, unheard of in the late 18th century – but her fortunes turned in latter episodes after her decision to help Ross’s cousin Verity to elope. It remains to be seen whether she will be a wife or a widow when the drama returns (although, it being called Poldark, we can make an educated guess…)
Elizabeth Poldark (Heida Reed)
Ross’s childhood sweetheart spent an entire series regretting her marriage to his cousin Francis. And who can blame her? We’d be rather depressed if our husband had gambled our livelihood… and lost. And then betrayed his cousin to his arch-rival. Pretty shoddy behaviour, if you ask us. Still, when she’s not mourning the loss of her first love, Elizabeth can always count on the entreaties of said arch-rival, George Warleggan, who spent much of the last series trying to tempt her away from her layabout spouse.
Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller)
Oh, Francis. Ross’s cousin dramatically fell from grace over the course of the first series. First introduced as heir to a mine with a beautiful wife and a child on the way, his gambling, drunkenness and an ill-advised ‘friendship’ with George Warleggan led to the breakdown in his fortunes. Oh, and his misdirected anger at Ross over Verity’s elopement – in fact it was Demelza who facilitated it – led him to betray his (let’s face it, superior) relative. That pat on Ross’s shoulder at baby Julia’s funeral isn’t going to cut the mustard as far as reconciliations are concerned…
George Warleggan (Jack Farthing)
Poldark’s Mr Nasty suffered a blow at the end of last series as his new ship was wrecked and plundered off the Cornish coast. But never one to sit back and take things lightly, George snitched on Ross, arranging his arrest and ensuring he’s behind bars as series two begins. It was the culmination of a series-long rivalry between the pair as Warleggan – the grandson of a blacksmith whose successful business has afforded him gentility – clawed away at Ross’s modest ambitions by befriending Francis and convincing him to hand over the identities of those involved in Poldark’s smelting company. Most of them owed the Warleggans money so George and his uncle Cary (Pip Torrens) called in their loans – while, unbeknown to Francis, George slyly wooed his wife, Elizabeth. And with his cousin Matthew dead in the wreck, his wrath for Ross shows no sign of abating.
Verity Poldark (Ruby Bentall)
Poor Verity has had a tough run. Approaching spinster status as her brother and cousin wed their beautiful brides, V had a bleak future ahead at Trenwith caring for her elderly relatives. And then along came disgraced sea captain Andrew Blamey (Richard Harrington) and stole her heart. Unfortunately for the pair, he wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms by the Poldark clan – Ross may have aided their meetings but Francis challenged Blamey to a duel (which F, of course, lost) and the captain was banished from Verity’s door. It was Demelza who helped them continue their relationship – a move she paid for dearly – and by the end of the series Verity and Blamey had eloped, although whether they’ll ever be reconciled with her brother Francis remains to be seen.
Dr Dwight Enys (Luke Norris)
Arriving in Cornwall mid-series to study lung disease in the region’s miners, Ross’s old friend Dr Enys quickly caught the eye of travelling player Keren (Sabrina Bartlett). Unfortunately she’d just wed local worker Mark – not that a small matter of marriage stopped her from pursuing the dashing young doctor. Despite his best, ahem, intentions, Enys was seduced, but when Mark learnt of his new bride’s infidelities his rage accidentally killed her and – with Ross’s help – he fled abroad. Chastened by his experience, Enys had plenty to distract him from his remorse in the final episode as Demelza fell desperately ill. While he couldn’t save Ross’s child, the doc did succeed in nursing his wife back to health.
Jud and Prudie Paynter (Phil Davis and Beatie Edney)
When Ross first arrived home from the American War of Independence he was met with a home driven into disrepair and a couple of snoring louts. Jud and Prudie Paynter were his father’s former servants and Ross kept them on in recognition of their connection to the family – but it was an uneasy peace as he forced them to turn his former home into something inhabitable. In the words of Jud, the pair thought “t’aint right t’aint fit t’aint proper” but they remained the Poldarks’ servants until Ross heard a drunken Jud badmouthing him to Demelza and gave him his marching orders. Prudie followed him out the door and the last time we saw the pair they were trudging along with a trolley carrying their meagre possessions. We have a feeling they’ll be back…
Poldark returns on Sunday 4th September at 9pm on BBC1