It hasn’t happened often, but “Masterpiece” is updating its past again.
The venerable PBS anthology series has revisited such classic dramas as “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “The Forsyte Saga,” and it puts a fresh sheen on “Poldark” as a remake of the romantic adventure based on Winston Graham’s series of novels begins Sunday (June 21). The role of Englishman and Revolutionary War veteran Ross Poldark goes to Aidan Turner, of the “Hobbit” movie trilogy, but original star Robin Ellis also appears as the clergyman in the Cornish town Poldark returns to.
Already shown by England’s BBC, the new “Poldark on Masterpiece” retains such elements as the hero finding his love (Heida Reed) engaged to his cousin (Kyle Soller) and discovering a new interest in Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), a servant he saves from a desperate home life.
“It was a very popular show,” Turner reaffirms to Zap2it of “Poldark’s” first television incarnation, “but I just felt like it might not serve me in the way that I wanted it to. You can’t un-know something when you’ve seen a series like that, and I wanted to find Ross myself. And he’s a character that I really related to immediately, and I just wanted to see what I could come up with. So I steered clear of watching the [original] series.”
“Masterpiece” executive producer Rebecca Eaton notes “Poldark” is eyed as a revival that could last several seasons; in fact, the BBC already has ordered a Season 2. She reasons the saga encompasses “a love story, a love triangle, and a hero … and there just aren’t that many heroes around in drama, in American television.
“Everybody is quite compromised, ambivalent as a hero, maybe a guy you love to hate. To have sort of a good old-fashioned, red blooded, do-the-right-thing, handsome dude would be a really good idea for ‘Masterpiece,’ so that’s why we went back.”
Turner believes “Poldark’s” endurance, 70 years after the first book’s publication and almost 40 years after the first drama’s U.S. television debut, is a “testament to Winston Graham’s novels. The theme and the characters are so strong and so independent and so unique, I think it’s a story that needed to be told again.
“It’s hard to know sometimes why things are remade. I’m just glad I’m part of it, because I think we’ve done a really good job, and I’m really proud of it, and I think we’ve done Winston proud. I hope so, anyway.”