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Poldark controversy! Did Ross rape Elizabeth?

(Image credit: BBC/Mammoth Screen/Joss Barratt)

Years of sizzling sexual tension finally boiled over in tonight’s shock-filled episode of Poldark. But did Ross force himself on his widowed former fiancee Elizabeth?

It was all very shocking in Poldark tonight when a livid Ross rushed over to see Elizabeth at Trenwith after hearing of her engagement to his bitter enemy George Warleggan and the pair shared a night of passion. But Elizabeth (Heida Reed) made it pretty clear when Ross started making his angry advances towards her that she didn’t want sex to happen!

Yes, Elizabeth seemed to eventually lose her inhibitions when they started kissing, but shouldn’t her initial ‘no’ have meant just that?

Debbie Horsfield, the writer who’s adapting the late Winston Graham’s Poldark novels for the BBC, said: “There's a big debate that goes on between fans of the books about how that scene should be interpreted.

“We haven't got Winston Graham to ask what his intention was, we only have what his son, Andrew, has said. It's not as straightforward as reports have made it sound. There is a lot of ambiguity."

At the launch of Poldark’s second series Debbie read out a statement by Andrew Graham: "In the novel, Warleggan, the relevant scene is indeed consistent with the potential for rape, but what then actually happens is not described and is left entirely to one’s imagination.

"The only way to judge what my father intended is to read the novels as a whole. In doing so, it becomes clear from earlier scenes and from Elizabeth's immediate reactions, that what finally happens was consensual sex of long-term love and longing."

After the illicit liaison, when Ross returned home early the next morning, a furious Demelza knocked her wayward husband to the ground after he confessed what he’d done. So how will the consequences of Ross and Elizabeth’s passion play out for the pair, and Ross’s angry wife Demelza, in the remaining two episodes of this series?

Next week Ross is sporting a black eye and his relationship with Demelza is in an equally bad way. She takes to her bed and refuses to do any household chores, while he’s banished to sleep in another room!

Is this just the start of her getting her own back on Ross? When he is called away on business, she decides to go to Sir Hugh Bodrugan’s ball on her own...

"There’s this rebellious streak in Demelza," said Eleanor Tomlinson who plays her. "If Ross is going to misbehave why should she stay at home and be the loving wife who is forgotten?"

Also at the ball is Captain McNeil, who’s always been smitten with Demelza. The two dance together and, after they share a kiss, he asks if he can come to her room that night… and she agrees! Is Demelza getting her revenge on Ross by committing adultery too?

"What people love about Ross and Demelza is that they can relate to their problems," said Eleanor. "But the question is: will their relationship stand the test of time?"

Poldark continues on BBC1, Sundays, at 9pm


I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s.