Poldark series 3 episode 1 first-look preview: A Black Moon hovers over the Aidan Turner drama

Scriptwriter Debbie Horsfield plunges Poldark fans into the thick of the action in the first episode of the new series as the Warleggan feud intensifies

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The third series of Poldark is coming up at a right old gallop – in every sense of the word.

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Not only is the first episode of the new series an action-packed instalment featuring feuds, a marriage, intimations of mortality and the arrival of some fresh new characters, it hits the ground running in the most literal way possible.

In the opening scene, which was exclusively shown at the Radio Times Festival earlier this year, a pregnant Elizabeth starts the action galloping uncontrollably near the clifftops before Aidan Turner’s gallant Ross spots her and rushes to her aid…

Of course, it won’t take a genius to guess whether Ross’ intervention goes down well with his former lover. The feud between the Poldarks and the Warleggans (and Elizabeth is now very firmly in the Warleggan camp) was at fever pitch in the last episode of series two.

She had fallen pregnant after her night with Ross and had married his arch enemy George (Jack Farthing).

As for what happens after that …well, of course we won’t spoil it for you, suffice to say that yes, Elizabeth continues to be pregnant and yes, there are question marks over the unborn child’s paternity.

The opening episode is beset with menace. A Black Moon – the title of one of the two Winston Graham books this series is based on – hangs ominously over the county portending doom. But for whom?

As has previously been announced, new characters arrive in storm-lashed Cornwall.

Elizabeth (Heida Reed) has a governess called Morwenna, played by Ellise Chappell, and Demelza’s two brothers also arrive on the scene. Religious minded Sam (Tom York) is a bit of a pious bore on the surface, but there is depth and edge to his character too. The more fun-loving Drake (Harry Richardson) takes rather a shine to Morwenna despite Ross’s instructions to keep away from all things Warleggan.

As for Ross and Demelza, after all the hoo ha of the last series they open the action a little more settled in their marriage. We find them “in a happier time” and “working as a team”, according to Eleanor Tomlinson who plays Demelza.

But the immense charm of Mrs Poldark is not lost on other menfolk and there are signs she has a new admirer in the form of Josh Whithouse (Toby Armitage, pictured below).

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On a sad note, there is no Jud this series – Phil Davis’s factotum being mysteriously absent. Whether this robs the show of some key comic moments will remain to be seen, though apparently there seems to be more humorous mileage wrung from the fabulous Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) who delivers weighty deadpan comments like a crotchety chorus.

“Aunt Agatha is hilarious this series and she gets more hilarious,” said scriptwriter Debbie Horsfield.

And there is the promise of more light relief in the form of a sex-crazed vicar called Osborne Whitworth and the fabulously named Tholly Tregirls, a friend of Ross’s father and someone who has known Aidan Turner’s character since he was eight years’ old.

We don’t see Tholly (or Osborne) in episode one but Sean Gilder, the actor who plays him, says the character will be pivotal. “He comes back after thirteen years away and I believe Tholly thinks he knows Ross better than anyone in the story because he has known him since he was eight. There’s a real twinkle between the characters.”

Speaking at a screening, Horsfield said the character of Tholly offers an insight into Ross – “you can see where he gets his bad lad tendencies from.”

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As for Jud, his wife Prudie (played by the magnificent Beatie Edney) shows that she can still hold her own. “I miss him,” she muses in episode one, “like a ruptured spleen.”

We feel a lot more fondly about Poldark.

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Poldark series 3 starts on BBC1 in June