oddly satisfying, humbling even, that one of Britain's biggest ever
TV exports concerns a man in a tricorn-hat struggling to revive his
tin mine. A massive hit in its 1970s heyday, the BBC's first
adaptation of Winston Graham's Poldark novels cemented forever
our worldwide reputation as stalwart purveyors of high-end period
therefore fitting that this grand tradition continues with the latest
version, which – mark my soothsaying words – will be an enormous
hit. Why? Because it ticks all the right boxes in brazenly confident
no expense has been spared in bringing this savagely romantic world
to life. Set in Cornwall in the late 18th century, it
mercilessly exploits the area's rugged coastlines and vast,
God-fearing skies. While it doesn't quite match the almost docudrama
feel of Wolf Hall, it does boast a fairly authentic sense of
candle-lit time and place. Visually, it's a resplendently
pretty pictures are all for naught without a sturdy mainframe to
support them. Fortunately, this epic saga is told in rip-roaring
style. Though played deadly straight by a fine ensemble cast, it
benefits in execution from a kind of sly knowingness.
of Poldark on horseback galloping dramatically along the coastline,
or removing his shirt for no earthly reason, flirt outrageously with
barnstorming camp. Casting Aidan Turner from Being Human as
Poldark is a master-stroke. A charismatic, handsome actor, he broods
and twinkles most effectively. Artfully stubbled and tousled of
barnet, this saturnine hunk spends much of his screen-time glowering
intensely as clouds gather ominously, yet somehow sexily, overhead.
It's a star-making performance.
charming scoundrel with a sturdy moral core, he's ably supported by a
rich cast of characters including Phil Davis in unabashed scowling
mode as a ruddy-faced manservant, and the late Warren Clarke in his
final screen role as Poldark's scheming uncle. Though she doesn't
come into her own until later episodes, newcomer Eleanor Tomlinson is
suitably feral yet delicate as Poldark's vulnerable peasant ward.
I'd criticise a drama for leaning on blunt exposition - I lost count
of the number of times a variation on “Cornwall is changing, these
are difficult times” was uttered in episode one – but here it
forms part of a slightly heightened, charming sense of melodrama.
Subtlety is grabbed by the seat of its britches and hurled into the
crashing briny. In the rampant world of Poldark,
understatement is as welcome as a bout of scurvy.
bold antithesis of a staid Sunday night period drama, it's tremendous
tender new vehicle for Paul Whitehouse, Nurse is as low-key as
Poldark is bombastic. Essentially a series of bittersweet
character sketches linked by a loose yet effective through-line, it
follows a community psychiatric nurse as she visits her patients,
most of whom are played by the heroically versatile Whitehouse.
Stand-out characters include a depressed ex-con struggling with
agoraphobia, and a delightfully ingratiating Jewish OAP. Whitehouse
is an extraordinary actor, yet his multiple turns never feel like
egocentric grand-standing. He's fully invested in these
often very funny, ultimately Nurse is a sensitive and humane
study of issues surrounding mental health and community care. I can't recommend it