Christian Brassington, the extremely likeable actor who plays Poldark’s vile cleric Ossie Whitworth, has revealed that viewers looking for more toe-sucking action this series will not be disappointed. And there will also be what he delicately calls a “flash of flesh” to come on the back of his sordid antics in the previous series.
The actor, who put on weight for the role and is admirably without vanity about the whole thing, tells RadioTimes.com that his infamous toe-sucking was harder to film the second time.
“It was sort of worse this year because I knew it was coming. You know what I mean?,” he says, noting his slight surprise at the fuss that was made last year.
“The first time was a new experience for me, but this time I knew it was coming. You know with a horse when the horse doesn’t want to jump over a fence? It just refuses? You can imagine the act of that – being dragged to that day [of filming] was a little like that.”
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As for the “flash of flesh”, it is expected to come soon and promises to see the randy Reverend in flagrante, another intriguing spectacle that has been made more grotesque by the work of the show’s make up department.
“They did shave me and spray me pink,” he adds. “Just to sort of look like a pig, I think. That’s the look we were going for – like pig’s flesh. And I was not forced into this! I was fully onboard with this idea.”
That’s because the lovely star who plays the distinctly unlovely character, is very keen to give the character the right look. And he certainly puts the work in.
He revealed in a RadioTimes.com interview last year that he had to scarf 3,500 calories a day to reach the correct body weight to play the rotund rascal. This series he had to get to 4,000 but the production team, mindful of the health implications, offered up the service of a nutritionist AND a personal trainer.
“The trainer got me doing big weights so I have done it much more healthily this time but it was much harder putting it on in a healthy way,” he now says. “When you see series four of Poldark you will see that I am as far away from a professional athlete as anyone could be but I have got a new-found admiration for people who have to eat that amount of food every day, it is really difficult.
“They got me a personal trainer and a nutritionist which was excellent. It was like living the life of an athlete – sort of monitoring what you were eating all the time and training and having someone there. I imagine that it’s kind of how the sort of powerlifters train or maybe a linebacker in American football – trying to put as much weight on, as much muscle as possible. But, of course, our ultimate aim was to get me, you know, fat as well. We just tried to put as much muscle on at the same time so it was something healthy.”
Anyone with experience of dieting may be surprised to hear this but even one short break from the eating regime meant that Brassington lost too many pounds.
“You know when you hear people saying, you know, ‘I ate all day’. I think that’s all I was doing. I was either eating or cooking, then going to the gym, lifting big weights, then come back and eat or cook. I mean, you couldn’t take any time off. It’s good fun eating. But you can never have a break from it. That’s the problem.
“I had a day and a half off where I just sort of needed a break from that. I think I went out for a couple of drinks just needed time off. And so I had a day and a half off and I lost three pounds! Just by having that day and a half off. It was extraordinary. And that’s what I put on in a week. So I lost a whole week’s worth. You work it out and so I wasted basically 2,800 calories because I had a day and a half off. It was a big effort.”
As for his lack of vanity, he seems to actually relish looking so terrible.
“It’s really nice to do a part where you don’t care if you look good or not. Or, in fact, you’re sort of encouraging the idea of sort of making him look grotesque. Because it’s really important for the part. It’s important that there’s a guy here who is physically repulsive – and much more morally repulsive than physically repulsive. He thinks he’s God’s gift. He thinks that he is sort of this irresistible man, and just can’t fathom why his wife would not want to lie with him whenever he so wants. He’s got no idea that he’s repulsive. That sort of stuff’s important.”
And so is having a laugh. In fact, the star is one of the most popular members of the cast. Except of course when, for a joke, he decides to lapse into Osborne Whitworth’s creepy vocal delivery to amuse his “TV wife” Ellise Chappell (who plays the long-suffering Morwenna) and his actual wife. And neither woman likes it very much, you may not be surprised to hear.
“It’s not the hilarious joke that I think it is,” he chuckles. “They don’t like it. No, it’s not welcome…”
Poldark is on Sunday nights on BBC1 at 9pm