Shirtless Poldark gets everyone talking
It’s 1796, and Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark is tasked with saving Cornwall from starvation.
The fourth series of the BBC One drama, which launched on Sunday night, will see him defend Cornwall from local MP George Warleggan (Jack Farthing).
Britain is also at war with France and Pitt the Younger has called for a general election.
None of that matters though.
The most important aspect of the show’s return was, of course, the opening scene in which Ross Poldark is topless and emerging from the sea.
That was the focus of many of the newspaper reviews, with The Guardian comparing the show to an 18th Century version of Love Island.
He references Demelza’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) affair in the previous series with poet Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) and whether the situation is over.
“There is the tricky love-triangle situation, plus Demelza’s (Eleanor Tomlinson) suspicions that Ross has been getting rejiggy with Elizabeth (Heida Reed),” he writes.
“It pretty much is Love Island, no? Pecs v poetry, fab abs v the gift of the gab.
“This has (a few more) clothes, bigger clothes, somewhere-down-there-south-westish accents, stirring strings and a sea that doesn’t go all the way around. Love Peninsular, perhaps.”
The Radio Times’ Ben Dowell also focused on Demelza’s affair and the “immediate and subtle reminder of the bombshell of the series three climax” that was presented in the first episode of the new series.
“While this infidelity was rarely addressed directly, it haunted every look between the pair and pretty much everyone else.”
Gerard O’Donovan from The Telegraph gives it four stars and says the return of Poldark for each new series is “fast becoming an annual cause for early-summer celebration”.
“It’s as sure a sign as a budding rose that something ridiculously romantic is about to unfold. And good fun, too.”
O’Donovan also points out the topless opening scene, adding that “the sight of Ross Poldark striding bare-chested from the waves in the opening scene was as much a knowing wink to viewers as an invitation to leer.
“Any drama with the confidence to indulge in such headline-grabbing self-parody is well worth welcoming back.”
Carol Midgley from The Times gave Poldark three stars – and identified the main themes of the show as “sex and death with a dash of highly expositional politics and much dramatic galloping for Ross’s black horse”.
She also had some commentary on Ross’s outfit choices, he “seemed to be wearing beige chino shorts – who knew Next was trading in the 18th Century?”
The Sun‘s Carl Greenwood focuses on much the same as the other reviews saying that Ross Poldark’s “shirtless sea scene had viewers feeling hot and sweaty”.
He compared Aidan Turner to an “old fashioned James Bond”.
Sean O’Grady from The Independent disagreed with the majority of the reviews and interest in the topless scene, writing “the trouble with Poldark the character and Poldark the show is that there isn’t much to like about either”.
He expanded, calling the opening scene an “absolute crashing bore of a cliche of having Poldark emerge from the Atlantic waves shirtless.
“From there on, in fact, it was the drama that started to drown, which was the only way to derive much enjoyment out of it.”