Saturday 24 February 2018

This Poldark was the real ­ romantic thing

Aidan Turner in Poldark
Aidan Turner in Poldark

John Boland

Poldark (BBC1) came to its first-season climax with a swooningly romantic clifftop shot of Ross and Demelza embracing. Then Ross was abruptly hauled away on various trumped-up charges, thus paving the way for the next season.

This has been a splendid series and proof that, in the right hands, romantic historical drama can be just as satisfying as the recent and more intellectually rigorous Wolf Hall, which was another BBC triumph.

It's also been a career-making series for Dubliner Aidan Turner (inset), who brought all the requisite good looks and smouldering flair to the role of Ross, and a real sense of decency, too.

And it's also given us Eleanor Tomlinson, whose Demelza was even more winning than Anghared Rees' portrayal in the 1970s series and whose rapport with her co-star was the real making of this new and improved version.

However, another BBC revamping hasn't been as successful. In the spoof documentary, Twenty Twelve, the excellent Hugh Bonneville played Ian Fletcher, head of deliverance for the 2012 London Olympics. He was very funny, as was Jessica Hynes as jargon-spouting and completely clueless PR woman Siobhan.

Now both of them feature in W1A (BBC2), having been hired by the BBC in this fictional imagining to further its concerns; Siobhan in her idiotic PR capacity and Ian as Head of Values, but somehow it's just not that amusing.

Part of the problem, maybe the main problem, is the uncomfortable sense that comes across of the BBC thinking it both cool and daring to poke fun at itself. And the truth is that the script isn't very daring at all, unless you think it hilarious that every time Sky gets mentioned by one of the characters, the word is bleeped out.

Timid jokes about Jeremy Clarkson and other broadcasting luminaries emphasise an overall inbred tone which even Bonneville's genial presence or Hynes' daftness can't disguise.

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