Sunday, March 1, 2015

Aidan Turner: BBC's Poldark remake: stars speak of 'pressure' of 1970s hit

Tara Conlan
Tuesday 24 February 2015 07.07 EST

The stars of BBC1’s new eagerly-awaited adaption of Poldark have told of the pressure they feel in bringing the adventures of the brooding 18th-century Cornish hero to a new generation due to the success of the 1970s version.

The White Queen star Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Demelza, said at a screening of the eight-part drama in London on Monday night that she was “nervous” about the reaction, especially as her part was played in the previous adaptation by the late Angharad Rees.

Tomlinson said the weight of expectation for older audiences was made plain when she told her parents about the role and they said: “Oh my God, wow.”

“It’s a lot of pressure, it was a tremendously successful previous adaptation and I’m really nervous about it coming out!”

Her co-star, The Hobbit actor Aidan Turner, said that when he told his mother he was playing the eponymous figure in Winston Graham’s books, she said: “You’d better not mess this up.”

However, he said he had to Google the name Poldark when the offer came in to play him as he was too young to have seen the 1970s version and made a conscious decision to only use the script and original novels, not to watch it: “I just wanted to see what I came up with myself.”

He said it was not daunting following in its wake, despite people asking him if he was worried about playing such an iconic role: “You just have to focus on the job in hand and trust that what you’re doing is right … and that people will trust your choices as the actor.”

Tomlinson had also never seen the previous adaptation, neither had writer Debbie Horsfield – who has adapted Graham’s novels – and she said she only watched it after she had written about five of the eight episodes because she did not want “to be influenced” by it.

Eleanor Tomlinson plays Demelza in the BBC’s eight-part adaptation of Poldark. Photograph: BBC

BBC controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, pointed out in a speech before the screening that it was almost 40 years since the last version of Poldark, stressing: “It ain’t a remake, it’s an adaptation of some truly brilliant books. It’s an adaptation, not a remake.”

There are some links though, with Turner’s predecessor Robin Ellis appearing in a cameo in two episodes as a vicar. He was asked to take part after he contacted producers Mammoth to wish the project well.

Graham wrote 12 Poldark novels and only eight of them made it to screen – one in an ITV version in 1996.

The new series is due to air in March and Stephenson said he hoped there would be “many more series.”


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