The team behind the revival of BBC One’s Poldark – one of the surprise hits of 2015 – have explained why they think the show made such a big impact.
Damien Timmer, Managing Director of Mammoth Screen, who made the series, suggested it was the period detail and how audiences could relate to the characters that appealed to viewers.
“Those 18th century characters, those 18th century costumes…there was something so relatable about it.
“There’s something about the show’s humanity, the way Debbie [Horsfield] wrote the characters and the actors played them, felt very truthful.” Timmer said at the RTS event, Poldark: Anatomy of a Hit.
“We never take for granted that a show is going to be a success, no matter how much you love it,” said Horsfield who suggested that luck played a part in Poldark’s success.
She explained: “There are so many variables. Who could have predicted that Cornwall would have the best summer in memory so that Cornwall looked like an advert from the Cornish Tourist Board?
“Who could have predicted that our transmission date would have been in the run-up to the general election and that our show made good copy in all the papers?
“People were asking ‘Where is the Ross Poldark of our time, where is our natural leader?’ Who could have predicted that?”
“Who’d thought that one photograph [the picture of a topless Poldark, played by Aidan Turner, scything in a Cornish field] would go global and there wouldn’t be a day in six months when it wasn’t in the paper?
“Normally after a show has had its first episode you’re kind of begging the press to show a bit of interest.
“There wasn’t a day when there weren’t four or five articles in the papers, it was wonderful…
Horsfield revealed she had written the scything scene before Turner was cast as Ross. The scene was always going to be highly charged sexually.
“It said in the script that he’s scything, he’s sweating and it’s a hot day. It’s taking place from Demeleza’s [Ross’s future wife] point of view.
“It’s the day after they’ve had sex for the first time. The script is very clear. She’s looking at him thinking ‘Oh my God, what did I do? What’s going to happen now? Where do we go from here?’”
“I don’t think any of us thought ‘Wow that’s going to be in every newspaper for the next year.’”
Asked if the erotic parts of the story were more to the fore than in the 1970’s original BBC TV adaptation, Horsfield said the series’ supposed raunchy scenes had been overplayed by the media.
“I remember people saying ‘Oh, it’s a bodice ripper.’ And I said ‘Is it? How do you define bodice ripper?’
“Is it a bodice ripper where no bodices are actually ripped? There’s a moment where Ross’s hand goes into Demelza’s dress is about as much as…
“You see a couple of scenes in the bedroom where Ross has no top on. That’s about as raunchy as it gets.
“There are no full-blown sex scenes…To be honest I think it is quite subtly done.”
Horsfield based her scripts on Winston Graham’s novels, and the second series – a total of ten episodes compared to eight in the first - is due to air this autumn.
Asked if there would be more topless scything in season two Horsfield said: “Unfortunately autumn is very chilly in Cornwall, so he won’t be doing any in that.”
Flowers for the panel were kindly provided by Eden Blooms @poldarkflowers
Poldark: Anatomy of A Hit, was held at One Great George Street, Westminster, April 14. The producers were Sally Doganis and Barney Hooper. A full report of the event will be published in the May edition of Television magazine.
Watch highlights from the event below, or click here to watch the event in full: