Happy 45th, ‘Poldark’!

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Robin Ellis as Captain Ross Poldark, 1975. Photo: BBC

Looking at the calendar, it’s hard to believe it is already October. Can someone please tell me what happened to March through September?? It’s also hard to believe that yesterday, Monday, October 5th, marked the 45th anniversary of the UK premiere of Poldark, Winston Graham’s tale of life in late 18th-century Cornwall. Starring Robin Ellis as Captain Ross Poldark alongside Angharad Rees, Jill Townsend, Clive Frances and Ralph Bates, the ‘original’ Poldark went on to run for 29 episodes making up the two series produced by the BBC.

It was such a treat to open an email yesterday morning and spend time reading how Robin marked the anniversary. A post on his daily blog reflected back on what was, obviously, a magical time 4+ decades ago. Robin, his wife Meredith Wheeler, and a menagerie of animals reside in the picturesque village of Lautrec in southwestern France. A portion of today’s post is below. For the full post and much more from Robin, click here.

The cast and crew had been hard at work on location in remote Cornwall and at the BBC-TV White City Studios in London. If I remember rightly, we hadn’t finished all sixteen episodes by that October evening–and were feeling nervous about how it would be received. We knew it was a good story, with all the right ingredients to engage–and even entrance–an early-evening audience–but you never know.

I only remember one review. It was from the witty and candid Clive James in The Observer the following Sunday. At the end of three paragraphs reviewing other programmes he wrote:

“Oh yes, and there is POLDARK which I can’t help noticing is an anagram for OLD KRAP. I rest my case.”

It was a bit of a shock at the time–and made my mother very cross! Well–when the run of the first series came to an end four months later, with viewing figures topping 15 million, we had the last laugh.”

Remembering Angharad Rees, Ralph Bates, Paul Curran, Mary Wimbush, Richard Morant, and Frank Middlemass. Photo courtesy: Meredith Wheeler

The seminal period drama series (apart from Upstairs Downstairs, of course, had its’ PBS premiere on the then-titled Masterpiece Theatre in 1977 where it was first introduced to American fans by series host, Alistair Cooke. Cooke, who hosted the series from 1971 to 1992, was Masterpiece Theatre. At the time, Upstairs Downstairs had come to an end in 1975 and fans were a bit desperate for the ‘next Upstairs Downstairs‘ and Cooke was there to bring it to them.

In addition to Poldark, Robin also appeared in the original Swedish version of the detective series, Wallander, starred in the Merchant Ivory film, The Europeans, and can been seen in Fawlty TowersThe Good Soldier, the musical She Loves MeBlue Remembered Hills (by Dennis Potter) and Elizabeth R. In 2015, we had the great good fortune to speak with Robin prior to his role in the recent Mammoth Screen/BBC adaptation of Poldark starring Aidan Turner.

In recent years, Robin has turned his passion for cooking into becoming a cookbook author. Robin’s 4th cookbook, Robin Ellis’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Cooking, published in the States at the end of September. How can you go wrong with Mediterranean cooking recipes AND a quote from Imelda Staunton!

While I try to figure out what happened to March – September of this year, here’s wishing Captain Ross Poldark a happy 45th! Thanks, Robin & Meredith!

Happy 45th, ‘Poldark’!