Poldark, series three, episode one, review: a full house of birth, marriage and death as Ross and Co return

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark - 1
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark - 1

Were you wearing a black armband for the return of Ross and co? A bit like the average distance between humans and rats, in Poldark (BBC One) you are never far from birth, marriage or death. In this first episode of the third series, there was a full house, the emphasis being very much on death.

Caroline Penvenen’s uncle, Ray (John Nettles), and Demelza’s dad, Tom Carne (Mark Frost), were summoned to the inevitable, while Elizabeth (Heida Reed) flirted with the same destination before providing the unspeakable George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) with an heir. Contrary to all the indications, the newborn did not emerge from the womb touting a six-pack and a handsome thatch of dark kiss curls. But these are early days.

The arrival of the namby-pamby named Valentine presages ill for  his half-brother Geoffrey Charles (Harry Marcus), who has inherited none of his late father Francis’s invertebrate tendencies and stepped forward to grab this opening episode by the frock-coated lapels. “I need no permission to visit my own family!” he snorted.

Heida Reed and Jack Farthing as Elizabeth and George Warleggan - Credit: BBC
Heida Reed and Jack Farthing as Elizabeth and George Warleggan Credit: BBC

He’ll need plenty more retorts like that because Warleggan remains the very acme of unspeakability. If teleported to the here and now he’d be columnising for alt-right news website Breitbart. His one act of cruelty you might support was banishing the grim crone Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) to her quarters. As she uttered another pitiless noun-based curse (“Blood, name, purpose, fate!”) I felt like reporting her to the Society for the Preservation of Main Verbs.

Meanwhile, Ross (Aidan Turner) kept his kit on, as is his wont these days, though as Elizabeth’s life dangled in the balance he did go in for some manly high-intensity beach sprints. Kit-off duties seem destined to be shouldered by the comely newbie, Demelza’s kid brother Drake (Harry Richardson).

Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen - Credit: BBC
Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen Credit: BBC

Poor Caroline (Gabriella Wilde), furtively espoused to the Cousin Matthew doppelganger Dwight Enys (Luke Norris), was unhappily deprived of the chance to get his kit and hers off on their wedding night. I’m no obstetrician, but if she ever does conceive, please might someone place her fake bump a notch higher up the midriff than Elizabeth’s, which sagged just above knee level?

Business as usual then. Joy for some. For others, it was about as much fun as housekeeper Prudie’s ruptured spleen. 

Who's who in Poldark?
Who's who in Poldark?