Unemployment, low wages, food shortages – no, this isn’t Project Fear’s prediction for post-Brexit Britain but the big issues of Cornwall in the year 1800. The fifth and final series of Poldark sees Ross and Demelza, played by Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson, plan to lift locals out of poverty – one in his role as an MP, the other through opening a school.
Together the impulsive, righteous, buccaneering hero and his determined, principled partner have grown into their roles as community leaders keeping locals afloat in tough times. And they may have lessons that could help us tackle the same problems today.
Poldark has always been about a lot more than a Cornish glamour couple scything their way into our hearts on Sunday nights. From the start Turner was drawn by the part Ross Poldark played in his community.
“Of course the story is set in 1800, but the role of education as a means of taking people out of poverty remains crucial to this day.”
“People need him,” Turner told The Big Issue ahead of the first season. “He’s strong by nature. He doesn’t make any secret of that.
“There isn’t a voice like Ross’s around, somebody who can be a working-class hero and a gentrified figure – the guy who can show up at a ball and schmooze with all the rich folk and is equally down with the proletariat.”
Five years on, not much has changed. He is the right leader for his times, and could be the right leader for our own. Turner has also always been aware that Poldark recognises the responsibility he has as a landowner and landlord.