Burly miner struts across the Cornish cliff, rippling his muscles. ‘I’ve a message from Trenwith. Where’s Poldark…?’ ‘He’s behind youuuuuu….!’ Oops sorry, I thought we’d got lost in panto-land for a minute.
I’ve watched both the previous series and it seems they’re certainly ratcheting up the ham-factor this time round if the opening episode was anything to go by. Perhaps this is inevitable after the first couple of series – Downton Abbey certainly suffered the same fate. Maybe it’s the new telly I got last year, but the colours seem to be set permanently to one of those especially lurid filters, such as Lark or Juno, that you find on Instagram.
Our three central heroines – Demelza, Elizabeth and Caroline look like Charlie’s Angels in olde worldy frocks or maybe a Timotei ad, so lustrous are their floating manes and improbably perfect white teeth and flawless complexions. There was much consternation in the nation that Ross, Every-Woman’s eye-candy (hashtag #hotstuff), didn’t flash his torso in Episode One. Normal service was swiftly resumed in Episode Two, with Demelza’s brothers also plunging obligingly bare-chested into the sea for good measure. No, Episode One was about LAYING ON THE DRAMA.
Elizabeth’s baby was due. And sooner than expected, seeing as she and George hadn’t been married that long. What’s that you say?! Could it be the spawn of Ross instead, when he had stormed over all masterfully that night and swept Elizabeth up in a reckless Heathcliff-style fashion? Well yes, to be honest. Elizabeth may have looked a little startled when Aunt Agatha pointed this fact out, but then her general expression is one of slight bewilderment. Which is more expression than we generally get from Caroline, who is almost indecently beautiful, but doesn’t seem able to move her face all that much. I’m Team Demelza all the way…
Anyway, the brat is undoubtedly the child of Ross. Elizabeth knows it, Ross knows it, Demelza knows it, Agatha knows it, Elsie up in Birmingham probably knows it. George DOESN’T know it, but he’s too busy colonising the entire county and being absurd and pompous, looking remarkably like The Prince Regent, played so brilliantly by Hugh Laurie in Blackadder. It’s up to his uncle Cary, who should be accompanied with a Dum Dum Duuummmm sting on every entry, to know what’s going on. He’d never have had George marrying namby pamby Liz in the first place. Actually, Elizabeth isn’t quite so green as she’s cabbage-looking (there’s a nice old expression). Realising the onset of labour pains meant her cover was about to be blown, she chucked a vase downstairs and herself after it (or perhaps she just scuttled down and lay at the bottom – no point going overboard) which meant the fall ‘brought on’ labour, not the simple fact of the nine months already being up.
Far and away the best character is Aunt Agatha. Imagine a Rottweiler version of Maggie Smith’s Violet (Downton Abbey). The woman is a TOTAL legend, always on hand to puncture George’s pomposity. He tried getting his henchmen to actually move her and her chair into her room one night, but it was a short-lived triumph. She’s always hanging around like some malevolent old rook banging on about black moons and muttering darkly. ‘Who else would sit on the magistrate’s bench?’ George asked Elizabeth smugly, not expecting more than a docile murmur. ‘ROSS!’ came the mad harpy from the corner. She was right, George was only asked reluctantly, after Ross had turned it down.
Agatha drops Ross’ name into the conversation at every opportunity. I love it, but I am a bit worried. George would think nothing of bumping his own auntie off, let alone anybody else’s. And we NEED Aggie. In fact, I’d like her on every TV show…
‘Shut up Hollywood, you’re a fine one to talk about soggy bottoms.’
‘Shut up Gregg-y, you boiled egg, you’re nowt but a greengrocer.’
‘Shut up Simon, the girl’s got more talent than you in your stupid high-waisted trousers, I’m pushing the golden buzzer.’
In fact, she and Uncle Cary would be the perfect henchmen for Sugar on his nonsensical ‘business’ programme. They haven’t had anyone of that calibre since Nick ‘n’ Margaret were in town.