Well yes, there’s the fear of death by overnight illness and/or extreme poverty, but that doesn’t mean Lili la Scala wouldn’t drop everything to live in Poldark’s Cornwall.
Poldark returns this weekend and I, for one, am completely thrilled. Rarely does a television show come along that caters so beautifully to its demographic.
The ‘powers that be’ know exactly to whom Poldark – with its leading actor, the chocolate-tressed Aidan Turner, the panoramic shots of glorious, golden countryside and the army of glossy, Rapunzel-tressed extras — will appeal. Women. Women like me. Women who enjoy the escapism. Women to whom the Cornwall of the 1700s now looks like a viable and attractive holiday option.
Yes, you may well die of some sickness that strikes in the night with barely any warning, but those country dances look such a blast! Of course the harvest might fail and pitch the entire village into despair, but oh, those nights of jollity in the pub – those folk ditties are just so rousing.
Everyone looks so bonny and buxom; even in the depths of deepest poverty, they have a radiance which makes it seem as though they are simply partaking in a particularly exclusive detox programme. They gallop atop picturesque clifftops on beautiful horses, the flowing manes of both rider and horse matching and tangling in the Cornish breeze. Which, I imagine, is scented with salt and wildflowers.
“It’s not deep, it’s not particularly clever, but sometimes you need something that allows you to forget about the misery and pain of our world and focus on the misery and woes of a completely different world.”
I was particularly taken with the harvest scene in which, I kid you not, Aidan Turner (Poldark) scythes for three minutes. Bare-chested, glistening, streaked with the Cornish dust, he swings the scythe again and again, in slow motion while the soundtrack plays gently behind him. The late summer sun bathes him in golden light, and his hair falls into his eyes as he cuts through the ripe ears.
Oh my good lord, it’s like middle-class porn for the sexually repressed Brits.
Do you know, they actually paid someone to paint Aidan Turner? They painted on the sweat and the dust until every gleaming muscle fibre was spotlit to show its utterly complete perfection.
The scything scene lasted about three minutes and each episode is an hour long. That means five per cent of that entire episode was dedicated to antiquated farming methods. I have never been so riveted by late-summer farming pursuits.
Poldark is a veritable feast for the eyes. Who can fail to be absorbed by the heroic exploits of our protagonist, with his Corbyn-like belief in the perils of the Everyman? I’m unfailingly sure that Poldark would sit on the floor of a train without hesitation. In that situation, I imagine, the floor would be awash with loitering ladies.
You may have gathered I have a very soft spot for Poldark. It’s not deep, it’s not particularly clever, but sometimes you need something that allows you to forget about the misery and pain of our world and focus on the misery and woes of a completely different world.
I mean, who can’t identify with being dressed like a boy and meeting your future husband in a market, where he rescues you from your vicious father and takes you to his country abode to become his housemaid? Total period escapism.
On the subject of period escapism, don’t get me started on the frocks. By crikey. The gowns. Gowns of deepest blue, gowns of russet, gowns of green. A feast for eyes and ears. The corsets, the cleavage. Impractical yes, but just so divine. I mean, I know that corsetry was a device championed by men to keep women ineffectual and powerless, but I feel that today we can reclaim the waist and the whalebone.
So I shall continue to enjoy the masculine gleam of muscle and the breathless gasp of a woman with tousled hair and taffeta skirts. It’s such a guilty pleasure.
Poldark returns to BBC One on Sunday, 9pm.
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Lili la Scala sings a bit, writes a bit and spends more time than is probably necessary discussing the toilet habits of her son. Bona fide vintage addict, though she is sure she sounds less tragic when described as a 'collector'.