"I'm Ross more times than I'm Aidan these days!" – Aidan Turner on living life as Poldark and what's to come in series 3
The star of BBC1's Sunday night smash hit says he still finds it surreal being recognised in the street, and drops an intriguing clue about what's going to happen next in the life of Ross and Demelza
June 2017 can’t come quickly enough for UK fans of BBC’s Poldark. The show’s eagerly anticipated third series hits BBC1 early this summer, and leading man Aidan Turner is excited.
“We only wrapped six weeks ago so getting the series out this soon is great,” the Irish actor tells RadioTimes.com during a break at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival.
“When I see it I’ll remember shooting it which is always a bonus. It’s always too long to wait, you know?”
Oh, we know.
Series two saw the Cornish Captain come under fire for his actions with former love Elizabeth in scenes (one scene in particular) that divided opinion. Was Ross a rogue or a rapist? Debate raged online and original texts were consulted as the nation tried to decide how to deal with what Ross had done.
“I knew it was going to be big news for people, for fans and that,” says Turner. “I don’t know if they knew what to expect.”
He wasn’t sure what to expect from them either: “It was interesting to see how the audience responded to him, whether they were going to let him in anymore, or let him hang for his errors.
“You can’t necessarily stand by Ross’s actions, he’s clearly made a huge blunder, but he’s a flawed character,” Turner says. “You don’t set out to play a hero, or someone who's an iconic legend who doesn’t make any mistakes, and just rides into town and saves the world. He’s a real guy who makes real mistakes.”
Three series in, it’s clear that Captain Poldark and the ‘real guy’ who portrays him are almost one and the same in the eyes of some viewers. Has Ross become a part of Turner’s DNA?
“I’m Ross more times than I’m Aidan these days,” he explains. “It’s kind of weird, but such is the nature of the business.” He’s not complaining. In fact, he still seems somewhat surprised that he’s become a Sunday night drama sensation.
Ross (Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) stand atop a Cornish cliff in Poldark series one
“It’s strange,” he says, “I have a beard now and you kind of go under the radar a little bit. Obviously it’s the recognition point that makes it a bit surreal, because you forget yourself when you’re walking around. You just tend to get recognised a little bit more.”
Ross has had one rather amusing impact on his daily life: “I have to keep this hair long and I look like...” Turner begins, smoothing down the curly brown locks that boast their own Twitter account and even inspired poetry. “Oh God, I catch a glimpse of it the odd time”, he laughs, “I look so ridiculous!”
With series three fast approaching and a whirlwind publicity tour sure to come with it, Turner and his locks (which are all his own, by the by) are staying put. What should we expect when we next return to Cornwall?
“We seem to start every series in a really tentative, tricky place,” he says, “but as an actor it’s always fun to play. You know you’re coming out with drama straight away.”
Drama, he promises, will be plentiful in the new series, as Ross and Demelza’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) story continues.
“When we start the third series we get a feeling that a lot has passed; months have passed and they’ve already discussed what has happened. And so they’re not at each other's throats, but there’s definitely questions about who the father [of Elizabeth’s baby] may be and whether the relationship is going to last.”
The arrival of Demelza’s brothers Drake and Sam, Elizabeth’s cousin Morwenna and a “sex-crazed vicar” heralds the beginning of new plots that will keep viewers hooked throughout the series, and doubtless leave them eager for more.
Turner’s keeping mum about series four when we chat: “What about it, what do you think?” he teases, deflecting the question with ease.
Turner talks Poldark with Radio Times TV Editor Alison Graham at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival
It transpires that there’s a very good reason for his humorous evasion. Just an hour later, in the Poldark session, Turner takes the opportunity to surprise fans with the news that filming on the next instalment will begin in September.
It’s been rumoured that a fourth series could well be Turner’s last, given the fact that there’s a decade-long gap between Winston Graham’s seventh and eighth Poldark novels, The Angry Tide and The Stranger from the Sea. Could he be tempted to speed up the ageing process with a few hair and make-up tricks if it meant he’d still be playing Ross for years to come?
“I might need to!” Turner replies, chuckling at the thought. “I might need to grow out the greys,” he continues. “We’ll have to see what happens there; obviously there’s nothing confirmed yet.”
Poldark writer Debbie Horsfield echoes her leading man’s words, telling RadioTimes.com that she’s not thinking beyond series four at the moment.
Producer Damien Timmer and writer Debbie Horsfield pose for a snap with their leading man
Turner’s got plenty of other things to keep him occupied while we wait. He’s been catching up on The Crown and Stranger Things in his down time, as well as supernatural drama The OA, which he says he “really liked”.
He’s also returning to cinema screens in The Secret Scripture. Jim Sheridan’s adaptation of Sebastian Barry’s novel follows a young woman in rural 1920s Ireland, who keeps a diary of the events leading up to her incarceration in a mental institution. “It was fun, and the movie’s really good. It works, you know?” says Turner. “It’s a great book and Jim did a great job, I think.”
Would he like to make more movies? “Sure, I mean, it’s just finding time. There’s not enough time off now, there’s obviously press obligations and different things, but I’m sure I’ll find time this summer to squeeze in something.”
Before he’s swept away there’s just enough time to squeeze in one last question: can he describe Poldark series three in a word or a sentence?
“Poldark series three? A sentence or a word?” he repeats, raising a mischievous eyebrow and pausing as the cogs begin to turn. “Noose,” he smirks, breaking into a hearty Irish chuckle as he waits for a response. “She doesn’t know what I mean!” he laughs triumphantly.
No, she doesn’t. T'int right, t'int fit, t'int fair, t'int proper.
But luckily the summer is fast approaching, so it won’t be long until we all find out.
Poldark returns to BBC1 on Sunday nights in June