Saturday 20 January 2018

Are you Poldark enough?

As the captain returns to our screens for a new series, Shane Watson gives us 10 reasons why its star, Aidan Turner, is now bearer of the 'real man' torch

Sea of emotions: Aidan Turner plays the brooding Ross Poldark in the hit TV series
Sea of emotions: Aidan Turner plays the brooding Ross Poldark in the hit TV series
Holding on: Poldark and Demelza (played by Eleanor Tomlinson) have had their ups and downs

Here we go again. Poldark is back, and even if you're not a fan of the series you will know that this means Aidan Turner oozing rugged manliness on our TV screens all summer long.

The Dublin actor is what the young call 'A Ride', and his Cornish hero Ross Poldark is manly in the way that men were manly before hair gel, paternity leave and yoga.

Watching him gallop along a clifftop (in all weathers), brood at polite parties, and generally behave like the man least likely to see the point of couples therapy, just does it - shamingly enough - for 21st-century womenfolk. Unfortunately for Turner, this means that he is, until further notice, carrier of the 'Real Man' torch, and he doesn't much like it.

He denies deserving the title and has even - who can blame him - tried to shift the focus on to his dad, describing him in a recent interview as the genuine article: "a real man" who can "fix a vintage car, do plumbing, lay flooring".

Point taken. But being a DIY whizz is the least of being a real man in 2017.

Here are 10 attributes that make a bloke, in our eyes, Just Poldark Enough:

1. Not fussing about your hair

It is hard to strike the balance between caring and preening peacock, but a manly man is never that interested in his hair (see Poldark's salty-dog do). Note: the Boris Johnson hair thing is something different.

2.  Not having three kinds of waxed Barbour jacket

There's nothing wrong with being prepared but owning the just-so perfect outfit for every situation is a bit Meghan Markle and not that manly (see Poldark, who only has one coat).

3. Not being easily intimidated

By spiders. By waiters. By the bloke at the party who thinks he's smarter/richer than you.

4.  Entry-level DIY

Never mind tinkering with the car at the weekends (sounds a bit Top Gear to us) but being capable of basic crisis response in the home, like sorting out the beeping smoke alarm without taking a hammer to it.

5. Being good with children

Although Poldark's son Jeremy mysteriously vanishes for large stretches of time, it only takes a quick glimpse of Ross cradling a tiny baby in his muscular arms for viewers to melt. The manliest men are terrific with babies and are doting dads; we have known that for a long time (see that Athena poster, and Poldark).

6. Being a good driver

In the absence of a horse to gallop along the cliffs. Reversing with an arm slung over the passenger seat is particularly manly.

7. Dog confidence

Dogs that run rings around their owners are not the dogs of manly men. (If Poldark had a dog you know he'd be a firm but fair master and inspire panting devotion - his interactions with Demelza's dog Garrick are enough to make us swoon.)

8. Not being faddy about food

A manly man does not need to live on pies and ale. But making your own chia milk - tiny bit unmanly.

9.  Not indulging in white-knuckle handshakes, in the style of POTUS

This is textbook overcompensation and the opposite of manly.

10. Respecting women

(Poldark's record on this is, admittedly, patchy, but it is the number one sign of manliness now.)

We're not interested otherwise - full manly package regardless.

The many moods of a successful marriage

Given his erratic mood swings and infidelity (not to mention that controversial sex scene), Ross Poldark doesn’t immediately strike us as an ideal husband. But according to writer Debbie Horsfield, who adapated Winston Graham’s Cornwall-set saga for the BBC, the hit drama is supposed to offer a guide to a “successful marriage”.

In the series, Aidan Turner’s Poldark hires his maid, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), after defending her in a street brawl. The pair fall in love and get married, but their relationship is marred by Poldark’s obsession with his first love, Elizabeth (Heida Reed), and Demelza’s trauma following the death of her newborn daughter, Julia. Horsfield said: “I always bear in mind the advice Andrew Graham (son of Winston) gave me, which was that his father intended the Poldark saga to be a portrait of a successful marriage.

“By successful he didn’t mean perfect or idyllic, but real ... by series three, the fact that they’re still together at all demonstrates staying power.”

So what can Poldark teach us about relationships?

First impressions don’t count

When Ross meets Demelza, she is a street urchin, but once she’s deloused and working in his home, the pair fall in love. On second thought, this may only apply if you’re as ravishing as Eleanor Tomlinson...

The power of delayed gratification

The flirtation between Truro’s resident Hot Doctor Dwight Enys and Lady Caroline Penvenen was drawn out over several weeks before the two managed a rendezvous. By contrast, his hasty affair with a married woman in season one ended up getting her killed. Best not to rush these things.

Don’t bury your feelings

Admittedly, a relationship has its ups and downs, so we’ll mark Poldark’s one-night-stand with Elizabeth plainly a ‘down’. But he and Demelza are trying to make things work — likely thanks to Demelza’s whopping ‘Poldark punch’ after she caught him sneaking home at dawn. If you’ve just learned your husband is cheating on you, as well as squandering your money on a doomed mining enterprise and neglecting your marriage, there’s no time to waste bottling up your emotions, so let it all out.

Don’t let social differences be a barrier to love

This is a big one — Poldark rejects ‘respectable society’ by marrying the lowly Demelza, Caroline ignores her aristocratic father’s wishes to date Enys, and Poldark’s cousin Verity elopes with Captain Andrew Blamey, whose temper caused the accidental death of his first wife. It might seem unwise to disregard the advice of your family in the blind pursuit of love, but such is not the case in the Poldark universe.

Scythe your way to marital bliss

Who can forget the moment in season one when a shirtless Poldark scythed his way into Demelza’s, and the nation’s, heart? Men of Ireland, it may be time to ditch the lawnmower and pick up a scythe of your own. Patience may be required as you learn to handle the tool, but you’ll soon reap the benefits.

– Meadhbh McGrath

Irish Independent

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