Poldark

Fans of pre-industrial farming methods will no doubt have been disappointed by the lack of scything in this week’s Poldark – so we can only hope the sight of a sweaty Aidan Turner swinging a hammer with his shirt off provided some small compensation.

Things were looking so bleak for Ross Poldark at the start of this second run of the revived Cornish saga – he’d lost his daughter to putrid throat, his business to his sworn enemy and was now facing a string of criminal charges ranging from murder to ‘rousing the neighbourhood’ – that bashing away at a wall of solid rock in a copper mine was his idea of some quality me-time.

Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), on the other hand, still prefers standing on the cliffs and staring wistfully out to sea – something she did very prettily at the 3, 12 and 19-minute marks (I stopped counting after that).

Plotting against them, as usual, was oily venture capitalist (is that tautology?) George Warleggan (Jack Farthing), who wants to see Ross hanged and flogged, though not necessarily in that order. This week, George was variously described as ‘an upstart poodle’ and ‘pasty-faced from spending too long indoors fingering coin’ – both of which flattered to deceive.

Mind you, he’s like James Bond compared to Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller), the ineffectual whelp doomed permanently to wilt in the shadow of his cousin’s smouldering awesomeness. ‘I disappoint most people,’ he snivelled, and no-one leapt to correct him. When Ross began unlacing the bodice of his passionate, wildcat bride, I swear you could hear a gasp catch in the nation’s throat; Francis, by contrast, was banished to the spare room, forced to endure a chaste, loveless marriage on account of being a prize chump.

A bona fide TV phenomenon when it debuted last year, Debbie Horsfield’s sweeping, tempestuous take on Winston Graham’s novels continues to deliver the same irresistible mix of sex, skullduggery and scenery, with Turner and Tomlinson cooking up the most sizzling screen chemistry since Jennifer Ehle clocked Colin Firth in his damp breeches.

‘Which of us doesn’t secretly love him?’ poor Francis sighed of his cousin at one point.

Well quite.

 

TV extra:

 

Motherland

The standout highlight of the BBC’s Sitcom Season, this uproarious satire of competitive alpha-parenting – written by Sharon Horgan, Holly Walsh and Graham and Helen Linehan – boasted a first-rate cast, including Diane Morgan as a gloriously slapdash single mum whose survival strategy was to freeze everything, including cheese. But the show really belonged to the fabulous Anna Maxwell Martin as Julia, a chaotic whirlwind of escalating panic who, in her frantic search for emergency childcare, found herself accumulating the neighbourhood’s children like a hyperventilating Pied Piper. More please.

 

John Bishop in Conversation With… James Corden

Launching his new chat show, John Bishop described James Corden as ‘the most successful British export to America since The Beatles’. There are plenty of rival claimants who might dispute that, but there’s no denying the runaway success of Carpool Karaoke has made the boy from High Wycombe an unlikely star across the Atlantic.

A lovely, honest interviewee, Corden spoke with the air of a man who genuinely couldn't believe his good fortune, while Bishop proved himself a surprisingly good interrogator, knowing when to shut up and let his guest do the talking.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, September 8, 2016

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