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Gothic Revival: Moody class-war ripper as English as fish 'n chips

15 May 2015 - 02:22 By Yolsa Mkele

Modern-day Britain, as portrayed by television shows, is a disappointment. The television that fuelled images of red coats, frocks and enunciation has been replaced by a gritty post-Victorian dystopia where everyone has appalling manners.However, all is not lost. If you prefer her majesty's television programmes with a strong Dickensian flavour then Poldark has arrived to save the day.Adapted from the books by Winston Graham, the series tells the story of Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner), a minor Cornish nobleman who heads to America to fight in the Revolutionary War.Upon his return he finds that his father has died, his unofficially betrothed is now officially betrothed to his cousin and his only source of potential income, a copper mine, is in ruins.Fortunately, Poldark is not the pampered dandy one often expects in a member of the gentry. Using the strength of his back and the sweat of his brow, he is determined to get the mine running again, regardless of how many feet must be stood on.The beauty of the show is how liberally they have smeared it with Britishness, from the costumes and finery to the romantically blue-collar scenery.Poldark feels like a story either your governess would have told you or your old nan would have sung as she did the washing up.Where the show runs into some difficulty is its pace. In a world where we are used to high-octane action and more plot twists than a sailor's knot, it almost seems to plod. Happily, Poldark's slower pace adds an element of seduction, like it's courting you and subtly enticing you to put down the remote.What it lacks in pedigreed actors and intricate detail it makes up for in romance.It is an ode to the part of Britain that was not all castles and dukes.Poldark is to Downton Abbey what London is to Yorkshire; less of the glamour but with more of a plain, persevering charm. What is more British than that?Catch Poldark on Thursdays at 9pm on DStv channel 123..

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