April 26, 2015


Poldark episode 8, review: 

How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest

Let’s get some Poldark perspective, shall we? Series one of the hit BBC drama, which ended on Sunday night with a cliffhanger – on a cliff! – averaged 8.1 million viewers, had Twitter all a-swoon with shirtless Aidan Turner memes and is even credited by some with engineering a recent turnaround in Ed Miliband’s popularity (see the #Milibfandom Poldark photoshop). But is this serviceable costume drama really a rival to Pride’n’Prej ’95? Or do we just need a quick whiff of the smelling salts and some time to compose ourselves? 

The plain fact is that Winston Graham, author of the original novels, was no Jane Austen. His characterization isn’t as subtle, his plot twists aren’t as surprising and his themes aren’t as universal. It’s rather how the BBC has turned this source material into an addictive Sunday night treat that’s praiseworthy.

Turner hogged the press coverage, but there were also a whole host of other well-cast performers working to make this series so watchable. In this episode, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) was slippery and villainous, successfully forcing the dissolution of Ross’s smelting company and while her husband was in town, Demelza Poldark (an ever-excellent Eleanor Tomlinson) was fighting her own heroic battle against local lurgy, “the putrid throat”. She flew to the bedside of love rival, Elizabeth, selflessly nursing her and her family back to full health, because that’s just what real heroines do.

Even when tragedy struck in the Poldark’s own household, she managed to look as pretty as a Pre-Raphaelite picture, with red curls arranged just so on her sickbed pillow.

In Poldark’s eyes, this Demelza was perhaps even more beautiful than the sight of Warleggan’s ship wrecking a few miles off shore. Although it must have been close, for as every 18th-century Cornishman knows, there ain’t no party, like a pilchards’n’pillage party. So, no, Poldark is not a sophisticated drama, but the simple things can sometimes be very satisfying.
review from

April 24, 2015

the Downton/Star Wars Mash-Up

Downton Abbey’s Rob-James Collier Gives Us the Downton/Star Wars Mash-Up We Didn’t Realize We Wanted

"Why must you always walk in the light, Bates?"
Every time we read an interview with a Downton Abbey cast member, they seem to be discussing how much downtime they have on set. Actor Rob-James Collier (aka the villainous butler Thomas Barrow) decided to put his leisure time to good use by filming a video for charity on his iPhone.
It’s all part of a campaign Collier launched to raise £10,000 for the Chilterns MS Centre. He released "Downton Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Valet" to spark interest with the promise of a follow-up once he reached his goal. Since he’s passed his target, Collier has already announced "Downton Wars: Episode 2 - The Evil Butler Strikes Back!" is forthcoming, although he’s still accepting donations to the charity on his website.
This first video, however, is pretty great all on its own. It pits Downton’s "Phantom Valet" John Bates (Brendan Coyle) against “Evil Butler” Barrow for a Star Wars-inspired battle and some gentle Downton Abbey mocking.

April 19, 2015

POLDARK Episode Seven

Watch here

Eleanor Tomlinson stars as Demelza in the BBC remake of Poldark
Eleanor Tomlinson stars as Demelza in the BBC remake of Poldark Photo: BBC
The penultimate episode of Poldark series one (BBC One) got off to exactly the sort of start its fans adore, with a dark and hirsute horseman galloping across a craggy landscape laid out against vast blue stripes of shimmering sea and sky. But it wasn’t hunky Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) who was riding out to hide a billet-doux in a wall for Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) to fetch.
As a result, by the end of this hectic and sweepingly romantic episode we had witnessed shocking infidelity, a tragic murder, calamity at the copper mine, a flight from justice, acres of Poldark chest hair sprouting from a nightshirt, innumerable betrayals and a seemingly unbridgeable family breach between Ross and his weakling cousin Francis (Kyle Soller). Still worse – far worse! – it was looking like Ross and Demelza’s unfeasibly romantic marriage, too, was up the spout.
Aidan Turner as Captain Ross Poldark
That’s the beauty of Poldark. Time after time it sets up splendidly melodramatic situations, and makes heroes of its characters by forcing them through hellfire. Thus the lovely Demelza proved Poldark’s unwitting nemesis. By following her peasant-girl heart (poor unsophisticated dear), acting as go-between for lovelorn Verity (Ruby Bentall) and enabling her elopement with Captain Blamey (Richard Harrington), ultimately she handed nasty banker George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) the means by which to bring Ross’s heroic copper-smelting venture to its knees. And him to his.
Phil Davis as Jud Paynter
That’s how Ross saw it anyway. But could he ever forgive her? That was the question we were left with at episode’s end, although he had already applied himself to the question in unusually reflective fashion in a closing scene where he weighed the balance between his wife’s good intentions and their disastrous consequences. Presumably that was to encourage us to doubt the outcome. But those of us who like a flutter would wager a copper-mine or two that he’ll find it somewhere in his dark and manly heart to exonerate her, and maybe even hatch a scheme to turn the tables on the Warleggans in what promises to be a rip-roaring series finale.


April 12, 2015

Poldark - Episode SIX

Poldark episode 6 review: Aidan Turner’s grief-stricken Ross Poldark gets his kit off again

Watch HERE
It was a pretty dark hour down in this part of Cornwall.
Poor Jim died in a fever-infested jail despite the best efforts of Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark to rescue him. And as for Mark, well, things are not looking too good for him on the marriage front.
Signs that his blushing bride Keren (Sabrina Bartlett) was a bit of a wrong ‘un were very firmly realised this episode when she made not so much a bee-line as a guided missile swoop for Dr Dwight Enys. Hurricane Keren (below) has her sights so firmly set on the dashing doc she actually jumped off the roof in order to get him to tend her ankle.
“Of course sir, I’ll do anything you say sir,” she said coyly when he treated her, pushing up her bosom and staring deeply into his eyes with her best 'I'm pretty good' in the hay loft' look. I fear the poor chap won’t be able to resist.
And to add to Mark’s woes he had to endure a marriage counselling session from super hunk Ross Poldark himself who, as we are always reminded, could have the pick of Cornwall’s ladies. And then Ross’s factotum, Phil Davis’s Jud, chipped in.
“Pick my liver!” exclaimed the dentally-challenged serving man to his boss, not even acknowledging the hapless Mark’s presence. “Best he can hope for is not to be cuckolded thrice a day by every man, dog and mule in the county.”
Yes, thanks for that Jud. Really helpful. Let’s not give up the day job, eh, whatever it is that you actually do...
Demelza did her best to try and remedy the situation. “’Tis said you have a roving eye,” she told Keren, thus winning at a stroke the Olympic gold, silver and bronze medal for synchronised understatement but failing to persuade saucy Keren to change her ways.
Ross had enough on his plate to do much for poor Mark, however. He took the death of Jim very badly (spending five days drinking to deal with the pain) and there is definitely trouble ahead for the mine-owner.
Not only did he break Jim out of jail, he also had a fallout with the nasty judge and (here's the rub) man of the cloth Rev Halse (played by the original 1970s Ross, Robin Ellis). Nasty wig-botherer Halse has made it clear that he will not forget about our hero’s indiscretions.
Among the few scraps of real comfort was the chance of getting one over on the rapacious Warleggans with Ross's smelting scheme (although the evil bankers are about to fight back).
And there was a scene in which Ross was forced – yes FORCED – to burn his clothes by the beach after his trip to the fever-infested jail, thus giving his legions of fans yet another chance to watch his rippling muscles against a beautiful seaside sunrise.
Doofus Francis continues to suffer, and was first seen in this episode cutting hay in the field. His fortunes really have fallen. And he couldn’t even perform this rudimentary act of rural labour act without complaining brattishly about his blistered hands (Ross would have stripped off, got on with it, and turned scything into a spectator sport).
So it was no surprise that said Doofus was in no mood to accept the changes on the Verity front. His cousin had been secretly seeing her love Blamey and chose quite the wrong time – the Warleggan ball – to attempt to bring Francis round to accepting the match.
Poor Blamey. Always getting the, er, blamey for everything.
Still, Ross managed to save things at the end when he caught Warleggan’s stooge out cheating at cards just as we thought our rippling hero was about to gamble away his mine. So things cheered up. Eventually.

April 06, 2015

Wolf Hall

Following the fact-based historical book of the same name, this drama will follow the rise of Cromwell as he becomes Henry the VII’s closest advisor.

Henry VIII is desperate to end his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, but Cardinal Wolsey’s efforts to persuade the pope to grant an annulment are fruitless – much to the dismay of Thomas Cromwell, a lawyer dependent on Wolsey’s patronage. The king’s new mistress is rumoured to be Anne Boleyn, who has sworn vengeance on Wolsey after he refused to let her marry Harry Percy, so Cromwell visits her in the hope of swaying her to the cardinal’s side.

six - this is the finale

April 05, 2015

Poldark - Episode FIVE

Poldark episode 5 review: 

Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark becomes the perfect dad

Poldark episode 5 review: Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark becomes the perfect dad

If you thought Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark had run out of ways to be heroic then think again.
This week he became the perfect dad to the rather delightful-looking Julia Grace Poldark. Not only that, he showed he had political skills too, rousing the mine owners of Cornwall into an organised opposition to the beastly smelters who'd been keeping the prices down and thus effectively starving the workers. And Ross loves the workers. And they love him.
Yes, it seems that among his many other talents, Ross Poldark single-handedly founded the left-wing union movement a full 130 years before Keir Hardie had his lightbulb moment about organised labour.
But really, it was little Julia who stole tonight’s show, a gorgeous little thing who brought an even more beatific smile to the face of Eleanor Tomlinson’s Demelza and got Ross off his blimming horse for once.
Instead of galloping along the cliffs (not the safest thing for a new Dad to do let’s face it) he instead resorted to holding his offspring in a manly yet tender manner and looking out to sea. If only there had been a branch of Athena in Cornwall circa the 1780s.
Still, our Ross nearly lost his new man laurels when Demelza felt her first labour twinges while they were both watching a strange-looking theatre troupe perform outdoors. She went home. Ross stayed at the play and only got back in time to hear his firstborn cry. But it was a lovely moment nonetheless.
The newborn also brought out the worst in The Doofus – AKA Kyle Soller’s Francis – who at one point hopefully enquired whether his love rival was being kept awake all night. And he wasn’t. Yes, Ross Poldark is so bloody wonderful he is even immune from the nocturnal travails of a new Dad.
In fact each scene in this episode counterpointed Ross and Doofus Francis in a manner that eventually began to feel cruel. While the Doofus whored, Ross held his child and lovely new wife at home. While Ross worked hard in his mine, Doofus lost his business at cards at a party cunningly organised by the evil Warleggan. (Yes, Heida Reed's Elizabeth wasn’t too happy about that one, was she? Now Demelza will be the lady and she the… what? Penniless kitchen maid? Now that would be quite funny).
Julia’s Christening party also gave us another chance to meet Demelza’s Dad – with the alcoholic drunk of earlier episodes now turned into a blood-and-thunder Evangelical Christian. “This place is an abomination,” was his spoken assessment of the gathering – which is never an opening line to get the party started, let’s face it. He then turned on one of the posher guests and berated her for showing her cleavage.
Also – Blamey’s back! Yes, Verity’s love who was seen off by Francis because of his unfortunate accident (supposedly killing his first wife, the silly billy) has resurfaced, thanks to some sly work by Demelza who arranged a trip to town to make sure the two of them bumped into each other.
Although it nearly went awry when some marauding miners decided to start a riot.
A cry of “Miners!” Went up and all hell broke loose. It reminded me of that sketch in the BBC comedy Big Train set in the African wilderness when Simon Pegg mouthed the word “Jockeys!” to Julia Davis and a stampede of brightly coloured riders thundered past their Jeep.
This time it was a horde of hungry and seriously narked-off workers that threatened to scupper Verity's chance at love. 
But she got through unscathed, helped by Blamey who still loves her as much as the poor woman still loves him.
Let’s hope thunder doesn’t strike twice in the wife-killing department.