TV Times goes on location with aidan Turner, who tells us Ross is up against it but ready to do battle
s TV Times arrives at an atmospheric stately pile in Gloucestershire on a cold but bright day in February, the first thing we see is a horseman galloping by.
When the rider dismounts, his face breaks into a huge smile – instantly transforming him from brooding 18th-century rebel Ross Poldark into the cheerful man who plays him, Aidan Turner.
We are on location for the eagerly awaited second series of Poldark, the sweeping saga which returns to BBC1 this week.
While most of the drama is filmed against the backdrop of the stunning Cornish coastline, we are at Chavenage House in the Costwolds. The Elizabethan manor doubles for Trenwith, home of Ross’s cousin Francis (Kyle Soller) and his wife Elizabeth (Heida Reed), Ross’s first love.
AAidan, 33, has broken off from filming to tell us that Ross has a lot on his mind, but reveals it isn’t always easy for him to remain in character when he’s astride Seamus, a magnificent bay stallion.
‘I get such a rush out of galloping on him that I have to remind myself of the tone of the scene,’ says the Dublin-born star. ‘He associates me with riding fast so he goes a bit wild when he sees me. Getting him to stand still is the trouble!’
Seamus is not the only one to be excited by Aidan’s dashing presence since the first eight-part series – based on Winston Graham’s books – began airing in March 2015.
It was an instant hit, attracting more than eight million viewers, winning awards and turning its star into a sex symbol and a contender for the next James Bond.
Looking every inch a romantic hero in his period costume, it’s very easy to see why Aidan, who also starred in And Then There Were None at Christmas, has audiences swooning. But the actor insists fame has not impacted on his life.
‘I am recognised a little bit more,’ he concedes, ‘but I don’t take much notice of it unless someone is right in my face. And most people are very respectful.
‘Where it does change is in Cornwall – we get a lot of fans coming out to watch us filming. But everyone is so lovely and supportive. When the director calls for quiet, you can hear a pin drop; they’re incredibly respectful.’
As the new and longer 10-part series begins, things are looking very bleak for Ross. At the end of the last one, he and his wife Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) lost their baby daughter Julia to diphtheria and then Ross was arrested for shipwrecking, inciting a riot and murder. He’ s about to go on trial and, if found guilty, could be sentenced to hang.
‘We find him right where we left off,’ explains Aidan. ‘It’s a dark time, but that’s what Ross does best. He can take the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he’d rather Demelza didn’t worry.
‘He has a kind of one-man army mentality. Underneath it all he does worry about leaving her behind. He won’t show it, though. Ross is very proud.’
Since the third series has just started filming, it’s not too much of a plot spoiler to reveal that Ross probably escapes the noose. So would Aidan be prepared to carry on playing TV’S biggest heart-throb if the BBC decides to film all 12
‘There are quite a lot of them, aren’t there?’ he laughs. ‘But they are great stories. In each series, we cover so much time, so I don’t know how much artistic licence we would have to change certain things. When would Ross’s black locks start turning grey?’
And with that the actor places the character’s distinctive tricorne hat over those windswept curls and strides up to Seamus, who’s waiting impatiently...
He’s mean, moody and magnificent as Ross but Aidan prefers to play down his stallion image