Initially, it was presumed that Horsfield would look to author Winston Graham’s next Poldark novel, The Stranger From the Sea, to inspire series five. But that book is set ten years on from the events of book seven, The Angry Tide, which included the sudden death of Elizabeth Warleggan and was adapted for series four. The BBC has since revealed that, rather than time-jump a decade, the fifth and final TV series would fill in the missing events leading up to The Stranger From the Sea which begins in 1810 (thus avoiding ageing Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark to 50 years old).
“In The Stranger from the Sea, Winston Graham made many references to developments that happened in the ‘gap’ years. Much can also be inferred,” explained Horsfield.
“There are, of course, also historical events and people of the time, both in Cornwall and in London. Series five will draw on all of these to follow the lives of the Poldarks, George Warleggan, the Enyses, and the Carnes in this intervening period.”
Winston Graham’s son Andrew – who consults on the drama – added: “No-one can know what my father would have felt about the forthcoming series, let alone what he might have written. However, Debbie Horsfield has demonstrated such an extraordinary affinity with his work and shown such remarkable skill in bringing his Poldark characters to the screen that we know we are in safe hands. Indeed, without her, the Estate would not have agreed to series five in this form.”
As for what those intervening events will be, details are rather thin on the ground for now. We know that following the death of Elizabeth, Ross vows to put Westminster behind him and “spend more time with the people he loves”. Of course, that doesn’t mean he and Demelza waltz off into the sunset just yet as an old friend soon emerges with a plea for help causing Ross to challenge the establishment yet again.
Dwight and Caroline Enys join the cause, meanwhile Demelza contends with dangers close to home and George courts corrupt powers with a sphere of influence that spans the Empire.
Heida Reed may have left the series but her on-screen husband Jack Farthing returns as George Warleggan alongside Luke Norris and Gabriella Wilde as Dwight and Caroline Enys.
Following their wedding at the end of series four, we’ll continue to follow Drake and Morwenna Carne (Harry Richardson and Elise Chappell) and Drake and Demelza’s brother Sam (Tom York), too. And what would Poldark be without Prudie? Beatie Edney will also reprise her role for the fifth and final series.
Elizabeth and Francis’ son Geoffrey Charles will also return, with Freddie Wise the latest actor to play the role – taking over from Louis Davison.
Will the fifth season of Poldark really be the last?
Yes, it will… for now. That note of ambiguity has been emphasised by Poldark’s executive producer Karen Thrussell who teased: “This will be the last series in the Poldark chronicle… for now. Who knows what the future may bring.”
Including The Stranger From the Sea, there are five more Winston Graham novels unadapted by the BBC in this latest Poldark incarnation.
Thrussell told RadioTimes.com at the Radio Times Covers Party in January 2019 that she was keen to revisit the series – and that extra material – later down the line: “There are five more books we could do in future possibly,” she said. “If we did a Poldark six – and a lot of us would like to do it – it wouldn’t be for a few years yet.
“Ross would be in his 40s… [and] I think we would probably focus on Ross and Demelza because we love them so much. The books are really great. I think for me, it would be a real honour to finish them because the 1970s series didn’t finish them, they stopped where we are stopping now. And as a reader of the books… [who] loves the books… I would love to get to the end.”