Watching actor Aidan Turner arrive at an event at the British Film Institute in London last month was a bit like witnessing Beatlemania at its height. The man was practically mobbed by crowds of adoring fans who clearly can’t get enough of watching him portray dashing Captain Ross Poldark in the super-successful BBC costume drama. How ironic then, that this extremely easy-on-the-eye, softly spoken Irish man, isn’t too keen on watching himself.
'‘I love the show,’ he says, ‘but I don’t find it easy watching myself in it. I’m constantly thinking, “Should I done that scene this way or that way? Could I have done something differently? Why did the director choose that particular take instead of another?” I’m my own toughest critic. I think it’s true of most actors.’'
Aidan, however, isn’t most actors. Since first appearing in ‘Poldark’ two years ago, he’s become major heart-throb material. There are countless fansites on the internet while his pony-tail even has its own Twitter account! It was ‘that’ scene in the first series that did it. You know the one - Aidan as a shirtless Captain Ross working on the land. Voted the top telly moment of 2105, it almost broke the internet and images of Aiden’s perfectly toned torso graced many a front page.
'‘That scene was never a big deal for me and when we filmed it, it felt like any other,'’ Aidan explains. ‘'It was certainly was never meant to be the crux of the scene. Dramatically speaking, it made sense for Ross to have taken his shirt off as he was working on the land on a hot summer’s day. I didn’t know it would all blow up the way it did. Had I known, I wouldn’t have changed anything but there was a mild hysteria about it and that was surprising.'’
Was he also surprised how quickly the series became must-see viewing?
'‘I wanted to play Ross as soon as I read the scripts,’ he says. ‘'I could sense and feel him very early on. Then when we started filming, everything just felt right with the scripts, the production and the other actors. There was a quality to it from the start.’'
So what can we expect from series three which is inspired by books five and six of the original novels by Winston Graham – ‘The Black Moon’ and ‘The Four Swans’?
'‘We’re several months down the line,'’ Aidan (33) reveals. ‘'Elizabeth is pregnant and, after what happened between her and Ross, there is a possibility that he is the father of her baby rather than her husband, George Warleggan. It is a very delicate situation. Demelza’s brothers, Drake and Sam, join Ross’ household and we also see Ross as more of a man-of-action as he rallies the troops to help find his friend Dr Enys who went off to war but has gone missing off the coast of France. As a military man, Ross is very comfortable in this role. He’s better at making decisions on the battlefield than dealing with emotions. As a soldier, he’s clear and measured and we see him in his element. It was very interesting to play that side of him. ’'
Each series of Poldark takes seven months to film so for more than half the year Aidan is, in effect, Captain Ross!
‘'Yeah – I wear his boots more than my own,'’ he laughs. ‘'But that’s fine because he’s great to play. He’s far from perfect and I think people can relate to that. He makes wrong choices and bad decisions at times but he’s a decent man and has a good soul – unlike some of the other characters. He looks after his workers, cares for people and is an advocate of workers’ rights, equality, fairness and the rest of it. On the other hand, he lives on the edge, is a gambler, a rebel and a risk taker. He’s a flawed hero and a very real person to me.’'
Us too! But how will Aidan continue to play Poldark? There are 12 Winston Graham books in total and it was rumoured, when the first series went out in 2015, that he was contracted to the drama for five years.
‘'Well we’ve already planned series four and actually start shooting in September,’' he reveals. ‘'I’ll look forward to it. Cornwall is beautiful and the people are lovely and so welcoming. I guess Poldark could go on and on. . .’'
- Poldark is due to return this June on Sunday evenings at 9pm on BBC 1.
- Available for catch up on the BBC iPlayer.
- Words by Alison James