Pistols at the ready:
The rivalry between Ross and Monk culminates in the ultimate showdown in this week’s episode of Poldark. Jim Maloney reports
Poldark rivalry turns deadly.
The simmering hostility between Ross and the provocative Monk Adderley culminates in a dramatic life-and-death situation in this week’s episode of Poldark.
George, thrilled that Elizabeth is pregnant, hosts a charity ball at his London residence. Here, he is further delighted when Monk, having taken a fancy to Demelza, bets George that he will sleep with her within a month.
Demelza gamely tries to keep Monk at bay but this only encourages him and Ross is furious. His temper boils over at Westminster where a scuffle takes place. Seemingly outraged at being manhandled, Monk challenges Ross to a duel. Ross is startled ... but accepts, despite Dwight’s attempts to call it off.
But has Ross bitten off more than he can chew this time? After all, ex-military man Monk is a renowned duellist and this might just be the moment he has been waiting for.
Max Bennett, who plays the womanising Monk, has enjoyed playing such a colourful character, and the duel was a series highlight.
“Monk is great fun to play. He is a provocateur who likes finding out what people’s buttons are and pushing as many as he can,” he says.
“With the duel scene we were like kids running around with toy guns. Both opponents could get shot in duels and so I think there were occasions where honour was satisfied by both pistols being fired into the air.
“But that’s not going to happen with Monk and Ross. They are both described in the novel as ‘wild men’. They are kindred spirits in that sense. He’s from a similar background to Ross. He’s from a mercantile family, so he’s not from money. He’s worked his way up to where he is.
“There’s a sense in which I think you could see him and Ross as two sides of the same coin.
“He may be the dark reflection of Ross Poldark and I think they both recognise that in each other, and that has created a sort of innate animosity between them.”
In the book, The Angry Tide, one of the Poldark series of novels by Winston Graham which features Monk Adderley, and in the original 1970s TV dramatisation of the series, Monk has a far more startling appearance.
“In our version, one of the references for the costume and hair and make-up department in terms of appearance and style was the dandy-ish figure of Beau Brummell,” says 33-year-old Bennett.
“Monk is seen as a forerunner of modern men’s style. But in the book and the original series he has a whitened face with a mole painted on it and wears very outlandish clothes.
“I would say that our version of him is more stylish, but what has not changed is that he is a dangerous, dark character who likes rubbing people up the wrong way – particularly Ross. And that extends to making moves on Demelza.
“He’s a womaniser and very sensual in general and she is intriguing to him. She is a fish out of water in London society and so that is a lot of fun for him. Also, she is beautiful; he’s attracted to her. His flirtation with her is a way of getting at Ross. Monk is a thrillseeker so anything that gets his vibes going he will do.”
Does Bennett share Monk’s passion for thrillseeking?
“Sort of,” he replies. “I’m a motorcyclist and that is a thrilling experience. It requires a lot of concentration. It’s relatively new to me. I actually heard I had got the job on Poldark when my girlfriend and I were on a motorcycle tour of Scotland, after I had made my audition. We were in Edinburgh at the time.
“I am on my second bike now. I started off with a Royal Enfield, which is a modern classic bike. Both of my uncles – my mum’s brother and my dad’s brother – are bikers and my first ever ride was on my Uncle Dave’s 1937 Royal Enfield. So there is a sort of romanticism for me and I wanted to get the same bike. I’m on to a bigger, touring machine now which I am able to strap a lot of luggage on.
“It’s not so much the speed that is a thrill. I imagine it’s like riding a horse. It’s the same kind of mastery over animal or machine. It’s just a very
“Monk is great fun to play. He is a provocateur who likes finding out what people’s buttons are and pushing as many as he can.” – Max Bennett