In 1975, America was already in love with Masterpiece Theater productions, but when Poldark hit television screens there was an instant historical drama heartthrob to add to the program’s many excellent virtues.
Actor Robin Ellis’s smouldering, intense portrayal of Capt. Ross Poldark was just one reason viewers tuned in to watch and were caught in the multi faceted and sweeping drama. Series 1 of this beloved story is now available on DVD from Acorn Media.
Captain Ross Poldark (Ellis) returns to Cornwall after the American Revolution, scarred in both body and spirits by the war and his escape from a French prisoner of war camp. Once home he finds that his father has died leaving the estate in a mess, and his fiancée is engaged to his cousin. Life doesn’t seem to hold any good for Capt. Poldark and then his path is crossed by Demelza Carne (Angharad Rees). Demelza has had a hard life and is little more than an ill-bred urchin, but Poldark takes her into his household to be trained as a servant.
Besieged by problems within his family and in his world, Ross Poldark tries to make life better for those around him, but not always with success. His relationship with his former fiancée Elizabeth (Jill Townsend) is precarious, and his relationship with his cousin Francis is all but destroyed. He opposes the plans of wealthy George Warleggan and becomes an enemy to many who are in power, losing long-time friends and supporters as well.
On top of all the other troubles he find himself attracted to Demelza, who in spite of her bright spirit and quick wit, is still of a different class. There are as many twists and turns in the Poldark saga as there are in a daytime soap opera, but the passions are played against a background of historical facts, and never has history been more entertaining.
Author Winston Graham uses real life events to both set the stage and move the action forward in the seven novels from which the series is taken, and the result for television is one of great effect.
Viewers were entranced by Poldark. Americans were entering the celebration years of the Bi-Centennial, and here was a reverse of the story, a “what happened” to the other people saga. Captain Poldark had fought in the Revolutionary War against the Americans, but now we were seeing him in his own country and his place wasn’t secure as a hero.
The love affairs vied with the political tensions for our interest. The injustices of life for the lower classes were heartbreaking, but then so were the mistakes made in good faith by those in power who wanted to do better. The story of the human condition was set in a small corner of England, and emphasized the fact that all life is a combination of good and bad.
The complex stories were well written and performed with a skill that made the characters live in the minds of viewers long after the series was finished.
Poldark Series 1 is presented on four discs containing four episodes each. The discs are housed in individual cases, illustrated with stills from the series and with synopses and program information for the episodes. Bonuses include historical background for Cornwall, and cast filmographies.
If you missed Poldark the first time around, now is your chance to get caught up in a saga that encompasses love, lust, greed, corruption, loyalty, betrayal, friendship and hatred.
Visit the DVD database for more information.Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.