Poldark (BBC One)
So this is the end, beautiful friend. After four swashbuckling years of erotic scything, clifftop mercy dashes, illicit rolls in the dunes and much wistful gazing out to sea, Poldark has entered the home straight.
This fifth and final series finds writer Debbie Horsfield striking out on her own and filling in the blanks of Winston Graham’s windswept Cornish saga. So instead of jumping forward a decade, as the books did, we pick up directly from the end of series 4, in which Elizabeth – Ross Poldark’s first love, now wife of his sworn enemy George Warleggan – gasped her last after one too many nips of that evil tincture. (You know, the one she’d been taking to try to muddy the fact that George’s son Valentine might actually be Ross’s. Sometimes, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Poldark is just EastEnders in breeches.)
That’s tragic, obviously. Though I always struggled to understand quite why Ross remained so besotted with his sopping wet teenage crush, when he had that proud lioness Demelza – the wildcat street urchin turned Mistress of Nampara – waiting at home for him.
Not that Demelza has her husband’s full attention, even now. When an old Army friend ended up in clink on a charge of sedition, Ross – a social justice warrior 200 years before Twitter – dropped everything to ride to his rescue. ‘You must always be battling for some cause or other,’ sighed Demelza, who was once again left alone to fight fires on the home front. Literally, in this case, as starving revolutionaries tried to burn Nampara to the ground. (Ross, meanwhile, was busy saving the King from an assassination attempt. Because that’s how he rolls.)
With its whiplash plot twists, buccaneering heroes and boo-hiss villains, Poldark is costume melodrama at its most crowd-pleasing; unashamedly more Mills & Boon than Mill on the Floss. But it looks and sounds ravishing (Anne Dudley’s score is surely the finest on television), and is perfectly cast, with the smouldering Aidan Turner out-Darcing Mr Darcy, and a career-making turns from Eleanor Tomlinson. Judas, how we’ll miss it.
Yorkshire Airport (ITV)
The airport docusoap was all the rage in the 90s (remember Jeremy ‘Aeroflot’ Spake?) and ITV is having a go at reviving the genre: firstly with a series about Heathrow, and now this, set in ‘God’s own airport in God’s own country’ (that’s Leeds Bradford, to you and me). You can almost hear Hugh Dennis’s raised eyebrow as he narrates whimsical tales of delayed flights, boozy stag parties and, of course, an endless line of disgruntled passengers kicking off at the check-in desk.
Moon Landing: World’s Greatest Hoax? (Yesterday)
‘Did the moon landings really happen?’ asked this potentially party-pooping entry into the recent Apollo 11 50thbirthday celebrations. ‘Or were they the biggest hoax of all time?’ The short answer to which is: yes they did, and no they weren’t. Thankfully, the programme-makers had clearly come to the same conclusion, wheeling on experts to soberly debunk one mad tinfoil hat conspiracy theory after another. In other news, Elvis is still dead, and the world is not run by lizards.
Published in Waitrose Weekend, 18 July, 2019
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