‘Poldark’ was a BBC television series based on the novels written by Winston Graham which aired in England from 1975 to 1977. In the late ’70s I found myself back in the ‘Old Country’ Yugoslavia, back then, married and very lonely at night as my brand new husband was working third shift. Serbian TV just about that time started running a serial called ‘Poldark’ and I was so happy not have had to read the subtitles, but what made my heart sing was the wonderful love story of Ross and Demelza. The main story centers around Captain Ross Poldark who was played to a tee by an actor whose name I never heard before, Robin Ellis. I honestly think that any other actor would have ‘overact’ this larger than life character. The producers, or which ever power that be chose this young actor to play this role, deserves a medal. Robin Ellis WAS Ross and we all ‘ate him up’ as he stole our hearts.
Ross Poldark arrives home from the American Revolutionary War and finds out that his life will never be the same again. His father has passed on; the farmlands and copper mines they’ve owned, are now being sold; his uncle has claimed the estate and the love of his life and his secret fiancée Elizabeth, played by Jill Townsend, is now engaged to his cousin Francis, played by Clive Francis. As Ross slowly sets out to rebuild his life and accept the union of Francis and Elizabeth, he comes across an urchin ‘boy’ who will steal his heart. Demelza, played by the beloved Angharad Rees, is a poor, hungry, fifteen year old girl who hasn’t eaten in a long while. Their first meeting takes place at a fair, where she’s caught steeling bread.
Ross feels sorry for and feeds the poor urchin, and after some persuasion from Demelza, he offers her shelter and work at his home. It didn’t take long for Demelza to ‘clean up’ and for Ross to start liking her. However, the love of his life, Elizabeth, was always on his mind and it took Ross awhile to realize that his life has been blessed by Demelza, and he finally admits his love to her.
Even though the main characters drove most of the stories, this was an ensemble series and the secondary characters had their own troubles. Who can forget Dr. Dwight Enys played by Richard Morant, a young new doctor who comes to serve the small mining community and finds himself falling in love with a married woman, Keren Daniel, who ends up killed by her husband after he discovers her infidelity. For a long time Dwight blames himself for her death, but one encounter with a very rich and very spoiled heiress Caroline Penvenen played by Judy Geeson, starts a relationship that will eventually end up in a marriage.
And then there are his old servants, Jud and Prudie Paynter played by Paul Curran and Mary Wimbush, that brought so much humor to their characters and to the series as well. And what would one of these series be without a villain, and this one had it in George Warleggan who was played to perfection by Ralph Bates. George Warleggan hated Ross with a passion and he wanted to own everything that Ross owned and loved, so he went after Elizabeth and eventually married her (after Frances died).
And talking of magic, Angharad Rees’ portrayal of Demelza was magical, too. When Demelza smiles, her whole face lights up and we cannot but bask in it. She was THE ultimate romance heroine and someone that I credit for pointing me to romance novels. I just found out (through Robin Ellis’ Blog) that she passed away at the age of sixty-three. My heart goes out to all her family, friends and millions of fans. She will be always fondly remembered by all of us that adored her portrayal of Demelza. None of us can ever forget that smile that lit up the small screen like millions of stars upon the night sky.
I have never had the pleasure to meet her in person, but a few months ago I read a story that was set in Cornwall and I thought of ‘Poldark’ series so I thought to Google it and see if I can see what happened to some of the cast members, but that night I ended up re watching the WHOLE series. I also found out that Robin Ellis would be coming to my local Barnes & Nobles promoting his new cook book and ‘Making Poldark’ book as well, and I was NOT going to miss this chance to meet ‘Ross’. What a real treat that was! My husband and I had a ball meeting Mr. and Mrs. Ellis and a few of his ardent fans as well. You can also read Robin’s tribute to her here and listen to it here (about 2 hrs. and 40 min. in-move the line to the #).
Tell us if you ever saw POLDARK and your thoughts about it. Who started you on the romance ‘trip’ and how long ago?