The Lizard ©
Poldark on TV
Although the first Poldark novels were written as early as the 1940s it was not until the early 1970s that they were adapted for TV. In the interim they were nearly made into a film by Robert Clark (of Associated British Pictures, ABP) as a ‘sort of Cornish Gone with the Wind’ but when EMI took over ABP the project was axed. However, having subsequently bought London Films, Clark then also bought another option on the novels and it was he who interested the BBC in producing the first four books as the TV series Poldark that hit the screens in the 1970s. Its huge success persuaded the BBC to commission a second series covering the next three books. However, apart from Stranger from the Sea (the 8th Poldark novel) which HTV made as a ‘one-off’ in 1995, and despite considerable popular demand for a third series, the remaining five novels (written, some time after the second series ended) were not filmed for TV or for the big screen.
The first Poldark TV series was extraordinarily popular. It starred Robin Ellis and Angharad Rees as Ross and Demelza, with Ralph Bates, Clive Francis, Christopher Biggins, Norma Streader, Jane Wymark and many others in supporting roles. In 2013 Mammoth Screen asked if the TV rights were available. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’. So, in 2015 we had Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson as the new Ross and Demelza, supported by Heida Reed, Kyle Soller, Ruby Bentall and Jack Farthing with Phil Davis and Warren Clarke (who very sadly died soon after completing his filming). It was a completely fresh adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark novels which stayed wonderfully close to the books.
And now in 2016 we have just seen the last episode of the latest BBC1 TV series that began in September. The 10 episodes of 60 minutes each introduced new key characters to Winston Graham’s sweeping 18th century saga of Cornish life. These included John Nettles (Midsomer Murders) as Ray Penvenen, one of the county’s wealthiest landowners, and Gabriella Wilde (Endless Love) as his niece Caroline Penvenen, a beautiful and manipulative heiress. Hugh Skinner (W1A) played Unwin Trevaunance, a prospective MP who hoped that Caroline (and her fortune) will consent to marry him. But Caroline’s heart is shown to lie elsewhere.
Also back were Heida Reed as Elizabeth, Kyle Soller as Francis, Ruby Bentall as Verity, Jack Farthing as George Warleggan and Luke Norris as Dr Dwight Enys. Beatie Edney and Phil Davis returned as Jud Paynter and his wife Prudie and Robin Ellis reprised his role as the Reverend Halse.
Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark, Warleggan (1975) BBC1 1st series
The Black Moon, The Four Swans, The Angry Tide (1977) BB1 2nd series
The Stranger from the Sea (1995) HTV
Ross Poldark, Demelza (2015) Mammoth Screen, BBC 3rd series (new Series I)
 again with Mammoth Screen as the series
production company. The novels covered in this series will be: The Black Moon and
The Four Swans. Filming in Cornwall for the latest series was completed in March 2017.
Eleanor Tomlinson and Aidan Turner
2017 © Official Winston Graham and Poldark website authorised by and copyright of the Winston Graham literary executors. Winston Graham Literary Agents: Contact A.M.Heath & Company Ltd