Columnist: My close encounter with Poldark on a train

Robin Ellis, the original star of the Cornish drama Poldark.
Robin Ellis, the original star of the Cornish drama Poldark.

More than 25 years ago I was sitting on a train to London travelling back home, writes Mel Hewitt, columnist and community fundraiser at St John’s Hospice, Doncaster.

Sitting opposite me was actor Robin Ellis, better known to millions as Ross in the 1970s hit series Poldark, based on the novels by Winston Graham.

Aidan Turner as Poldark.

Aidan Turner as Poldark.

Although I didn’t have a conversation with him – oh how I wish I could turn the clock back – I remember distinctly what a lovely man he was, smiling, pleasant and handsome. It was smashing to see him on The One Show recently with the new Poldark Aidan Turner – and he will be making an appearance as Reverend Halse in the next episode on Sunday.

There are the inevitable discussions about which series is best – there is still a lot of affection out there for Mr Ellis and the late Angharad Rees, who played Demelza.

I’m guessing we’ve all been guilty at times of the ‘it can’t possibly be as good as the original’ mindset.

The reality is perhaps that each adaptation brings something fresh and is of its time – although there are also TV productions of favourite classics which really shouldn’t have seen the light of day.

High production values and technical wizardry really can’t take the place of good writing and a real sense of the spirit of the story.

The new Poldark is a delight to watch with fantastic attention to detail, beautifully photographed and well acted. Apart from anything else it makes me want to return to the books once more, which I read after watching the 1970s version.

Now that to my mind is a result. But we are now in a world of instant feedback and the power of social media.

A simple mistake, oversight or careless word can now be writ large across the ‘tinterweb’.

And it appears some of the pre-publicity shots for Poldark featured a burglar alarm on a house in the background – not very 18th century.

I know there are even television programmes based on pointing out the mistakes. Examples might be modern watches on Roman soldiers, or a number nine bus in the distance behind Elizabeth I.

I know I may be a pot calling a kettle black as my first job as a journalist was as a TV and theatre critic, but I think it’s a little petty to point out a rogue burglar alarm – which was I understand filtered out of the first episode anyway.

I think it seems rather churlish then to highlight a mistake that was soon rectified and in no way affected the programme.

I think Poldark will have the last laugh though as after two episodes it looks set fair to ride any critical storms.