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Poldark is returning to PBS


If asked to name my favorite Masterpiece Theater series of all time, it would be “Poldark.” The series started in 1975. It starred Robin Ellis as Ross Poldark and Angharad Rees as Demelza. Rees, unfortunately, died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer. Robin Ellis, now 73 years old, lives in France and has an excellent web site and blog.

The Poldark series is based on a series of books by Winston Graham. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I read at least nine of the books. Graham, who was English, died in 2003. He was a fine historical novelist. He has a cinematic, masculine style, and yet his novels rival the novels of women writers in that Graham is able to explore and exploit the emotional entanglements of his characters.

The Poldark story is set in Cornwall right after the American Revolution. Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall after fighting in America. Everyone had thought he was dead. His father had died, and his family home had fallen into ruin. The woman he loves had become engaged to a cousin. He was broke and in debt. The story revolves around his trying to put his life back together. Poldark is a man ahead of his time. He is a man of the Enlightenment, but all around him it’s still the Dark Ages in many ways.

The new Poldark casts Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark. It is, like the 1975 series, being filmed in Cornwall. Where else do you get those romantic cliffs overlooking the channel? Turner, now 31, who is Irish, played Kíli in “The Hobbit.”

British viewers started watching Poldark on March 8. In the U.S., the series will start in June, on PBS’ Masterpiece.

The books have been re-released, apparently with cover images from the new PBS production. There also are Kindle editions.

Watch out. If you read these books, you’ll become obsessed with visiting Cornwall. On my first trip to London in the early 1980s, I took a train to Truro.

By the way, Winston Graham wrote another novel set in Cornwall, The Grove of Eagles. As far as I can tell, that book is out of print, but it is one of my favorite historical novels, and this reminds me that it’s time to read it again.

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