A pi­rate’s life for me

Sean Gilder takes TV Times be­hind the scenes to re­veal his in­cred­i­ble trans­for­ma­tion into Poldark’s salty seadog

TV Times - - Interview - DRAMA Poldark SUN­DAY / BBC1 / 9.00Pm Sarah Sel­wood

Pic­ture the scene. It’s an au­tum­nal af­ter­noon in Som­er­set, rain is lash­ing down on the cater­ing bus in which

TV Times is sitting, when sud­denly in walks a pi­rate with a deep scar run­ning from his fore­head to just be­low his nose. Eek!

We’re slightly scared but can’t think of a bet­ter way to meet Sean Gilder, who makes his screen de­but as the ter­rif­i­cally-named Tholly Tre­girls in this week’s sec­ond episode of the third se­ries of BBC1’S hit cos­tume drama, Poldark.

A dan­ger­ous but com­i­cal old friend of Ross’s father, reck­less wom­an­iser Bartholomew – Tholly for short – has been away from Corn­wall for 13 years and comes back to put down some roots.

But it’s not long be­fore he’s stir­ring the ad­ven­turer spirit in Ross (Ai­dan Turner), which could spell trou­ble for all…

‘In Tholly’s own words, some peo­ple call him a pi­rate, oth­ers say he’s a salty seadog or a free­trader,’ says Sean, 53. ‘Ai­dan and I worked on a back story based on Win­ston Gra­ham’s books. Ross lost his mother quite young, so his father brought him up. We thought Ross was around 12 when we met, his father was in his for­ties and Tholly was in his late twen­ties.

‘When­ever Ross’s father wanted to go on ad­ven­tures, Tholly would know where to go and be­came a trou­ble­some men­tor to Ross – he prob­a­bly in­tro­duced him to booze! Af­ter Ross’s father died, Tholly dis­ap­peared from Corn­wall.

‘So my char­ac­ter comes into the books and se­ries as some­one who could pos­si­bly pull Ross back to the ex­cit­ing ways of his younger years.’ Does he suc­ceed?

‘Well, I ar­rive in episode two and we’re on an ad­ven­ture by episode three!’ chuck­les Sean, who has two chil­dren Tommy, eight, and Vi­o­let, six, with his ac­tress wife Robin Weaver (The In­be­tween­ers).

‘It’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause peo­ple look at pho­tos of my char­ac­ter and ask, “Is Tholly a bad­die or a goodie?” Even my kids went, “You’re al­ways a bad­die, Dad”. Well, this time I’m a bad­die by looks and history, but I’m ac­tu­ally a goodie as dur­ing this se­ries Ross needs

some­body he can trust to de­fend and pro­tect him from his en­e­mies.’

Sean – who in real life is in­cred­i­bly down-to-earth and jolly – com­pletely un­der­stands why peo­ple may have as­sumed Tholly was a vil­lain. Over the years, he has played his fair share of them, the most mem­o­rable per­haps be­ing gang­ster Paddy Maguire in C4 drama Shame­less.

‘I’m 6ft tall, with a deep voice and acne scars, it’s as crude as that,’ of­fers Sean as an ex­pla­na­tion. ‘I would like to get away from it, to be hon­est.’

Which is why he jumped at the chance to play Tholly. ‘The role

al­lows me to have a bit of a sense of hu­mour and not take my­self quite so se­ri­ously,’ he says.

An­other bonus for Sean is that he has been able to work closely with the show’s cos­tume and make-up teams to cre­ate a plau­si­ble char­ac­ter for the drama.

Tholly has a fa­cial scar, tat­toos and wears a hook in place of his left hand, and Sean couldn’t wait to show us his 60-minute trans­for­ma­tion for our exclusive be­hind-the-scenes photo gallery (see above).

‘Even though I’m this new large

char­ac­ter, he must be suf­fi­ciently be­liev­able for Ross to tol­er­ate him,’ says Sean. ‘If Tholly is just loud and pi­ratey, Ross wouldn’t trust him.’

With Sean about to be whisked back to work, there’s just time to ask if he has any­thing in com­mon with his char­ac­ter?

‘Oh yeah, you al­ways use bits of your­self in a char­ac­ter,’ he grins. ‘I def­i­nitely share Tholly’s sense of mis­chief and an­ar­chy!’

Back to his roots: Tholly re­turns to set­tle in Corn­wall

Home and astray: Will the old rogue be a bad in­flu­ence on ross?

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