Irish heart-throb Aiden Turner (Ross Poldark) embraces the lovely Heida Reed (Elizabeth).

Poldark: Reviews from its Cornish Heartland

A DEBATE IS RAGING: Are the stars of the PBS Masterpiece series Poldark the eponymous, brooding hero and his impossibly beautiful wife Demelza, or the equally impossibly good-looking Cornish landscape?
I admit it’s a close-run contest, but I go for the view that the cliffs, beaches and moorland of Cornwall are the real stars of Poldark.
Fans of Winston Graham’s Poldark series, set in the turbulent times of late 18th-and early 19th-century Cornwall, have had to wait more than a generation for a reworking on the small screen. the original 1970s series gripped Britain, with audiences topping 15 million. Many of those die-hard fans initially refused to countenance a 21st century version. Indeed the secretary of the Poldark Appreciation Society went on record saying she was unhappy with the choice of Irish actor Aiden turner to play Ross Poldark.
The actors, plot and stunning scenery have won audiences round—none more so than those in the county where the sweeping saga is set. Here in Cornwall there were first concerns that the actors’ accents wouldn’t pass muster.
The view from Cornwall, though, where all but a handful of the scenes were shot, is that the makers of the new Poldark have got it right, starting with those accents. Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Demelza, is quoted as saying that the cast worked hard not to fall into the trap of delivering hokey-sounding, generalized West Country burrs. As a result, the new generation of actors have the audience on their side from the start.
The action opens in 1783, when British army officer Ross Poldark returns home to Cornwall from the revolutionary War to find his love Elizabeth betrothed to his cousin, and his family fortune in near ruin. Ross sets about restoring those fortunes, while falling in love and marrying beneath him to the wild, willful Demelza Carne. All the time Ross’s efforts are hindered by the machinations of the social upstart, successful banker George Warleggan—the archetypal bad guy of the series.
Cornwall is a stunning part of the world, and Poldark’s makers have taken full advantage. The rugged scenery is the perfect backdrop for the uncertain times portrayed in Graham’s books and now the TV series. Poldark is at once gripping, darkly romantic and an homage to its landscape.

Take a Tour of Poldark Country

The rich mining country between Botallack and Levant in West Cornwall provides the setting for Poldark’s Wheal Leisure mine and Rolling Mill.
Church Cove at Gunwalloe is where the shipwreck scenes were filmed. Named for the silver coins that still wash up there, neighboring Dollar Cove was site to many real-life shipwrecks.
Charlestown harbor, already famous for its collections of historic tall ships, now attracts visitors for its Poldark connections. Many of Captain Blamey and Verity’s illicit meetings were filmed here.
Porthgwarra, neatly tucked away in a tight cove near Lands End, was once a thriving fishing village. The tunnel cut through rock was a hiding place Ross used as he helped a man avoid arrest. In its crystal clear waters, he took a naked morning swim as Demelza spied on him.
Bodmin Moor’s rugged character features regularly, as cast and characters gallop on horseback across its barren yet beautiful landscape.

For more on Poldark, read British Heritage's interview with the show's executive producer.

Poldark, starring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson, 3-disc boxed set, PBS Distribution, approx. 480 minutes, $44.99

Poldark airs Sundays on PBS. For more information, visit