Poldark (2018)

Pity poor Aidan Turner. After three years of trying to get everyone to please move on from that erotic scything business, literally the first shot of Poldark series 4 is him striding topless out of the Cornish surf like Daniel Craig and Mr Darcy all rolled into one buff, glistening package. 

Maybe they were just trying to get it out of the way early, so everyone could concentrate on the story. Or maybe Ross has decided he needs to take his shirt off more often in order to draw Demelza’s attention away from the dashing Captain Armitage.

Actually, make that the formerly dashing Captain Armitage: these days, the lovestruck pup is looking positively waxy, possibly from spending too much time indoors writing Demelza bad poetry. Regular viewers will recall that, at the end of the last series, the young war hero (Josh Whitehouse) tempted Mistress Poldark (Eleanor Tomlinson) into a roll in the dunes by claiming he wanted to ‘taste heaven’ before going blind. Now he’s escalated the situation by threatening to literally die if she doesn’t get jiggy with him again. As chat-up lines go, it’s fairly desperate.

Elsewhere, war shortages prompted a riotous assembly on Truro quay that led to Demelza’s brothers being sentenced to hang. Cue Ross literally riding to the rescue (on the cliffs, in slow motion, natch) to save them with a rousing bit of oratory by the gibbet.

Meanwhile, whatever those pills are that Elizabeth (Heida Reed) keeps popping, they were enough to make her want to get frisky with oily George (Jack Farthing). No such luck for the libidinous Reverend Whitworth (Christian Brassington), though: his pleas to resume ‘conjugal bliss’ with wife-stroke-hostage Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) having met with a firm rebuttal, he had to make do with a glimpse of well-turned ankle through the keyhole.

In short, then, Poldark remains an absolute hoot. With its sweeping score, heaving bosoms and lingering looks out to sea from atop storm-tossed cliffs, Debbie Horsfield’s adaptation is unashamedly more Mills & Boon than War & Peace. And what’s wrong with that? Long may it sex up our Sunday nights.

TV extra:

 

Ackley Bridge

This boisterous mash-up of Waterloo Road, East is East and Shameless continues to delight. So far in this second run we’ve had bigamy, alpaca-rustling and kids wearing burkas to buy booze (‘It’s like a Harry Potter invisibility cloak!’). Meanwhile, hormones and emotional trauma are busting out all over the school, and that’s just the teachers. But there are moments of real sadness, too, in its unvarnished depictions of domestic violence and the tragedy of lost, wasted lives. A triumph.

 

A Girl’s Guide to TV

Comedian and self-confessed woman Rachel Parris was the perfect host for this wickedly funny skewering of decades of small screen sexism. From Blue Peter presenters parading around in their undies to a demonstration of why women have to sit **on** cars instead of in them, not to mention a catalogue of mortifying chat show fails (including a none-more-bloke attempt to humiliate Jayne Mansfield over her lack of knowledge of the Chiswick flyover), it was a glorious treasure trove of wrongness.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, June 14, 2018

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