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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 Mammouth 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.


In September 2016 the BBC TV Poldark Series 1 began. Ten episodes of sixty 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.


Filming in Cornwall for Series 3 was completed in March 2017. The novels covered in this series were: The Black Moon and The Four Swans with the first episode being broadcast in June and the last in August. Series 4 was aired in the Summer of 2018 and a further Series 5 was announced at the British Film Institute screening of Episode 1 of Series 4 in May 2018. Series 5 was aired between July and August 2019.

The Loving Cup is the tenth novel in the Poldark series, and continues the story after the fifth BBC TV series ends. The Twisted Sword is the eleventh novel and Bella Poldark the twelfth and final novel. Read these three novels to find out what happens to everyone!

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