Poldark's Ellise Chappell: 'It’s dark and traumatic for new mum Morwenna'

(Image credit: Mammoth Screen/BBC)

Ellise Chappell gives the lowdown on Morwenna’s horrendous marriage to vile vicar Osborne before Poldark’s big finale…

What awful times they are for poor Morwenna in Poldark. She's just given birth to a beautful baby boy so this should be the most joyous moment of her life. Yet she's unhappiest of all in Cornwall, trapped in a loveless marriage with the repugnant vicar, Osborne Whitworth, who she was forced to wed to save her true love, Drake, from the gallows.

The randy reverend is making brutal demands on Morwenna in the bedroom and he’s even turned his attentions towards her sister, Rowella, and wished his wife dead. Morwenna’s been almost suicidal and any future happiness is a distant dream, even as she gets used to being a new mum, as actress Ellise Chappell revealed, looking ahead to a dramatic final episode…

Morwenna’s been desperately unhappy while married to a beast like Osborne, and she’s even suicidal…are there any glimmers of hope for her in the final episode? "It’s been so dark and traumatic for Morwenna, even since becoming a mum. She’s lost her innocence, energy and spark for life and enjoyment of life. All that had been captured so beautifully when she was falling for Drake and her friendship with young Geoffrey Charles, but it’s now gone. I hope there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, there could be definitely. I know viewers will be longing for it."

Morwenna has just become a mum to baby John…could this change things for the better for her? Have they bonded? "She’s struggling to bond with her baby, but she’s such a gentle soul and so kind and caring that I definitely think having a child and being able to focus her energy onto him might be some kind of light for her."

Viewers are dying for her to somehow ditch Osborne for Drake. Have Poldark fans told you how desperate they are for it to happen? “People really hate Osborne for what he’s doing to Morwenna and quite understandably because things had been so joyous between her and Drake, then all of a sudden she’s in this horrible situation. It’s upsetting to think that women in that era were quite helpless when it came to arranged marriages with awful men. They were so powerless, which adds even more to their distress."

It's been a marriage from hell for Morwenna

It's been a marriage from hell for Morwenna

How did you find filming all the horrible scenes with Christian Brassington who plays Osborne? "Yes Osborne has been brutal and creepy so filming some of my scenes with Christian were very intense. But working with Christian was absolutely amazing because he’s just such a lovely person. He had the utmost respect for me and was always checking that I felt comfortable and that I was OK. It must have just have been awkward for him to have to act being that cruel. But I felt really supported."

Demelza knows how unhappy Morwenna is after she confided in her. Is she able to help? "Again it’s all down to the time these characters are living in and I really think there’s that sense of once you’re married, you’re joined by God, and there’s nothing much that can be done. Morwenna doesn’t really get caught up with Ross, Demelza, George or Elizabeth now. She’s just hidden away at the Whitworth vicarage and is intensely unhappy."

Can true love with Drake really win out in the end?

Can true love with Drake really win out in the end?

Have you enjoyed working with Harry Richardson who plays Drake? "Yeah he’s a great dude. He’s just so funny, and we had so much fun on set. I haven’t seen him in the new film Dunkirk yet, but I’m excited to see it soon."

How did Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza), Aidan Turner (Ross), Heida Reed (Elizabeth) and Jack Farthing (George) welcome you newcomers to the third series? "We were accepted very quickly. They were all just lovely. When we’re in Cornwall we’d always be hanging out exploring, having dinners together and getting to know each other, so it was really lovely. It does really feel like a tight knit family on Poldark."

Do you now feel a big affinity with Cornwall? "Oh my gosh definitely, I can’t wait to go back to film series 4! I’d been when I was younger and my dad grew up there, in Mullion, and he’d tell me that some of the beaches where we were filming were those he used to play on when he was a boy so it’s be quite lovely his stories about his younger days."

What were your favourite scenes to film? "I loved most of the beach scenes because it was just breathtaking to be on them. Specifically I loved it when Harry and I were just running along the beach, although it was quite hard for me in a corset – I was a bit breathless! But it was really fun to be so joyous and free! Also the scene where Drake and Morwenna are in the holy well - we were actually inside the cliff, so that was quite special."

Have you read Winston Graham’s later books to see what the future holds for Morwenna? "I haven’t so I can’t really say what later series will be like for Morwenna. I’ve only dipped in and out of the books to get little gems from passages that are helpful for characterisation, but I mainly just wanted to use the way Debbie Horsefield had written the character from the books. I kind of don’t want to spoil things by reading ahead! I just want to find out as I go along."

Why do you think Poldark is so popular? "It’s just got so much in it – action, passion, real love, real marriages, politics – I think there’s just so much in there that appeals to so many different people. It’s also on at the end of the weekend, so great for snuggling on your nice comfy couch with a cup of tea and watching all the drama unfold…"

The Poldark finale screens on BBC1, Sunday, August 6th, at 5pm

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

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 Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.