Rather more sinewy than your average Sunday night escapism, it has at its heart a hero who, unlike the man who plays him, is initially hard to warm to.
Ross Poldark is a south coast Heathcliff: aloof and stubbornly principled, prone to violent outbursts and brooding grumpily over real or imagined slights.
He has his reasons: presumed dead in the American War of Independence after being conscripted for brawling, Poldark returns home to find his father deceased, the family estate in penury and the love of his life betrothed to his cousin.
The sense of hardscrabble desperation is embodied in the opening episode by Poldark’s fight with a local yokel; involving neither buckle nor swash, it instead begins with a head butt and ends with a knee in the face. The softly spoken Dubliner, like any sex symbol worth his salt, looks sheepish and shrugs off the term. “It’s a little awkward.”Uncrosses them, then rubs his forehead.
“When you’re doing love scenes, clothes tend to get discarded.
You can’t really escape that, that’s got to be in the show.” He squirms a little more, before puffing out his cheeks and smiling broadly.
Steering the conversation to less awkward terrain, he spends a while examining the different production techniques behind the two Poldarks: out-of-sequence and with a single camera, compared to the one-episode-a-week, multi-camera traditions of the 1970before I received the offer” – and recalls gratefully that his predecessor in the role, Robin Ellis, avoided discussing the character while filming a cameo in the 2015 version as Reverend Halse.
Nonetheless, the original casts a long shadow, not least in its blockbusting viewing figures of around 15 million.“I found out they used to have to push mass in Cornwall back by half an hour because people weren’t showing up any more. “But 40 years is enough time to give it another go.
Everyone from my mum and dad’s generation knew about it, but that kind of pressure is exciting.”Family is clearly important to Turner, who praises his long-suffering parents for supporting him through his troubled teenage years, when he was getting into fights at school. But she said to me recently: ‘No you didn’t, you were fine’.
I think she just didn’t want to upset me.”When he left school, a period of career indecision followed.
Even dressed down in leather jacket and jeans, luxuriant mane in a tight ponytail, Aidan Turner looks every inch the leading man.
He has done ever since his double-breakthrough in 2009 as one of three supernatural housemates in BBC3 comedy-drama trilogy.