Wednesday 7 December 2016

Poldark actress Heida Reed reveals she was instrumental in decision to cut rape scene from BBC show

Danny Boyle

Published 09/09/2016 | 13:14

Elizabeth (HEIDA REED). PA Photo/BBC.
Elizabeth (HEIDA REED). PA Photo/BBC.
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark. Photo: Robert Viglasky/BBC/PA Wire

Heida Reed, the actress, has disclosed that she was involved in the decision to cut a controversial rape scene from Poldark.

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It was revealed last month that the BBC had dropped a storyline from the third novel in the series in which Aidan Turner's character rapes his former lover.

Now Ms Reed, who plays Poldark's ex-fiancee Elizabeth, has revealed her role in the decision to replace the attack with an affair between the pair.

The 28-year-old said she and Turner were consulted with production bosses about the scene and had "big conversations" as they "felt it wasn't right".

The controversial scene did feature in the novels, by Winston Graham, and the 1975 BBC television adaptation of the classic historical adventure series.

In Graham’s 1953 book Warleggan, Poldark breaks into Elizabeth's house before grabbing her and treating her "like a slut".

The character tells her "it’s time you were so treated" before forcing her onto a bed. Elizabeth later becomes pregnant with his child.

However, BBC insiders had said the scene was changed in the new TV series to an affair between the two characters because "times had changed" since the books were written.

Speaking for the first time about the decision to drop the sexual attack from the Cornish drama, Reed said: "Actually, it did change, as we had conversations."

"It was a collaborative decision," she told the Daily Mail. "Initially, it was a bit more intense, but we felt it wasn’t right."

The Icelandic actress added: "Aidan and I were both consulted when they were discussing how to interpret that scene, because it’s a very delicate one.

"We had big conversations about it and we rehearsed it a lot."

Poldark fans and critics were left delighted after Sunday night's second series debut lived up to expectations.

It picked up where it left off, with Ross arrested for "wrecking, inciting a riot, murder", and Demelza bereft on a cliff-top with the threat of the death penalty hanging over her husband.

Viewers were also waiting with bated breath to see whether Ross would bare his chest again after the topless scything scene of series one.

It did not take long for him to strip off to reveal his glistening physique and the TV audience was not disappointed.

The return of Poldark was watched by 5.1 million viewers, with a peak audience of 5.3 million and a share of 22.7 per cent.

The BBC programme trailed slightly behind period drama rival Victoria on ITV, which scored an average of 5.2 million and peak of 5.9 million, with these numbers including those watching on ITV+1.

Last month, Debbie Horsfield, who adapted the Poldark screenplay from the novels, admitted transforming Poldark’s Demelza from demure wife into combative proto-feminist.

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