If the healthy, 6 million+ ratings are any indication, many on sofa-patrol on a Sunday night want a piece of Poldark.
And if the tweets from BBC One’s #AskAidan event last Sunday are any indication, many also want a piece of the eponymous hero when he has his shirt off. Can’t blame you. I’m basically one more review from a sexual harassment lawsuit. That’s okay though. It’s acceptable to leer at folk in Poldark because they’re 230 years away, unlike leering at, say, the two blokes who present MasterChef, which is wrong, even if you do fancy what John Torode could knock together with some of last week’s pilchard harvest.
But there’s no time for lust and pilchards this week! Poldark buttons up and takes on more serious business – even including a portentous bit of Shakespeare’s ‘problem play’ All’s Well That Ends Well – and it’s all damn entertaining.
Poldark’s army chum and future plot point, Doctor Dwight Ennis – the man who sowed him up and left him with a scar dodgy enough to merit its own Twitter parody account (yes, it exists) – arrives to make a study of the miners and mine diseases. Afflictions of the shaft, you might say. Although putting it like that makes him sound like an altogether more specialised kind of doctor. Ahem.
However the medical specialist that’s really needed is a midwife, as Demelza goes into labour, birthing a lovely Poldarkling: Juliet Grace Poldark. It’s a genuinely lovely moment for us and PolDaddy and DeMumza. Only ten minutes in, it feels like all has ended well and everything is the cuddly Sunday night fun we’ve come to expect from the show.
Midwifery duties over, perhaps we should keep the medical theme and call in the chiropractor, because everyone proceeds to go behind one another’s backs. As Ross is setting up his mining company behind George Warleggan’s smirk, Demelza sneaks off behind her husband’s back to reunite Verity with Captain Blamey. Don’t you love Verity? Ruby Bentall is the underrated treasure of Poldark, I adore her.
Her love story with Blamey has something of high school awkwardness about it. It’s unintentionally hilarious, almost teenage in its passion and naivety, as Blamey tries to ask Verity out while hid behind a barrel amid a riot. Ross and Demelza’s romance seemed so effortless, so shirtless, that in contrast you can’t help but adopt the role of 18th century BFF and laugh and sympathise with Verity and Blamey. They’re a strangely adorable couple.
Far from adorable is Francis Poldark, who thinks he’s going behind Elizabeth’s back with the local Alpha-prostitute (she has apparently chased all the others into the sea). Elizabeth knows, and thank goodness because it gives Heida Reed a chance to do some actual acting.
What she doesn’t know until it’s too late is that he had lost the mine in a game of cards. His loss, and the hardships it will bring, makes for a downbeat end. I foolishly said last week that ‘the terrific thing about Poldark is that, atypical of every other drama, it always ends on such an upbeat note’. Well pickle my pilchards, talk about speaking too soon.
We end with hard times ahead. Harder than Poldark’s pecs. The threat of riots, bankruptcy, and George Warleggan’s queasy smirk loom over our Sunday night. Will it be all’s well that ends well by the end of Episode 8? We’ll keep our pilchards crossed…
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 5 April 2015 on BBC One.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know below…