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Aidan Turner: ‘Ross Poldark is a very sexy role!’

(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Mike Hogan)

The Hobbit and Being Human star Aidan Turner is playing Ross Poldark 40 years after the famous 1970s TV version of the classic Cornish saga.

The new series series of Poldark (BBC1, Sunday, March 8) is also based on the novels by Winston Graham and folls the story of soldier Ross who returns to his native Cornwall after fighting the US War of Independence. What’s On TV spoke to Aidan on the Cornish set last summer...

Can you tell us a little about Ross Poldark’s story?

“While Ross has been away at war, his father has died and the family estate, Nampara, has been left in ruins. The only thing that’s kept Ross buoyant was having promised his heart to his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth. But while he’s been gone, she’s got engaged to his cousin Francis, who’s also one of Ross’s closest friends, so he ends up in an awful state.”

So would you say Ross is bitter about what’s happened?

“A little, but Ross comes to understand what’s happened. Elizabeth didn’t know if he was dead or alive after not hearing from him, so I guess she naturally moved on. The story is whether he can move on, too.”

But love does come into his life, doesn’t it?

“There’s a couple, yes! After he’s rejected by Elizabeth, he acquires this employee, a kitchen wench called Demelza, and he falls in love with her. They have a child and everything seems to go well, for a while…”

Is Ross a bit of a rebel?

“Yes I guess so. Before he went away he was getting into a lot of trouble, so it was either the jail or enlist himself. That’s how he escaped trouble. He was heavily involved in smuggling, he’d never quite fitted in. There are huge divides between rich and poor and the wealthy people aren’t really helping – closing mines, paying starvation wages – so he’s always had an issue with that.

"There’s a rational side to Ross but there’s a childish and stubborn side to him. He could make his life a lot easier if he’d just capitulate and get on with things, but he chooses not to do it and I admire him for that.”

Are you prepared for an enhanced sex symbol status after viewers see you as Ross Poldark?

"I don’t really know. Ross Poldark is a very sexy role. There was a bit of attention for me in Being Human, as a vampire. I don’t really know how it will work out as Ross or how to answer that properly.”

What was it like on set as you’re being transported back to Cornwall in the 1780s?

“It was fun, but also so weird because it was such a different world and people had such different views on life and the way they conducted themselves. I suspect the clothing wasn’t always as comfortable as what I wear as Ross. There’s often a scarf around my neck and I’m all buttoned up, or I’m in loose-fitting farming clothes.”

Did you like all the horse riding Ross gets to do around Cornwall…

"It was my favourite thing, galloping up and down the spectacular Cornish cliffs. The scenery there is amazing. I did as much riding as I could without my stunt double and I’d say I got really good at it. I definitely became best pals with my horse, Seamus!”

Anticipating the arrival of the new series, there’s been a lot of ‘Poldark Fever’ from fans of the novels and original TV series. Have you sensed any of the buzz yet?

“It’s been mammoth and I’ve been keeping abreast of what’s going on. Poldark was a popular show back in the 1970s so people are interested to see what we’re doing with our new version. There’s quite a buzz out there so it puts us in good stead, but I don’t do social media. It scares me a little bit so I just keep out of it, it’s easier.”