Poldark preview with Aidan Turner

BFI preview

BFI preview

Wish all Mondays would end as nicely 🙂

I’ve always been reluctant to go out Monday night but I may change my mind after this if Monday evenings involve a trip to Cornwall. To clarify, this was not an actual trip to Cornwall, only on screen 😉 But I guarantee the views on screen will make you want to visit the actual place!

We were lucky enough to grab 2 tickets for the BFI (British Film Institute) preview of the first episode of Poldark, the new series made by Mammoth for the BBC. This will start airing in early March on BBC One in the Uk and if I understand correctly from June also in the US and more countries to follow. Some of you may be aware of the 40 years older BBC version, but this is not a remake of that series, it is a completely new adaptation over 8 episodes of the books (in this case the first 2 Winston Graham ‘Poldark’ books).

The evening entertainment contained not only the screening, but also a Q&A with main cast – Aidan Turner (Ross Poldark), Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza Carne), writer Debbie Horsfield and director Ed Bazalgette (the panel was chaired by Emma Kennedy).

First things first, the episode. To give you a tiny idea of what it is like, here’s the trailer:

If you think this is exciting, it was much more so in full! The scenes in the trailer cover episode 2 as well I think. But it’s all there, the detail in interior scenes with really detailed costumes (though not overdone), the right lighting and truly breath-taking views of fields, beaches and costal lines in Cornwall. It will actually be hard to see this on the small screen going forward as it was an absolute pleasure to watch it on a screen that does justice both to the detail and the landscapes. And the sound is excellent, from subtle music to wonderful sounds of hooves thudding on fields and crunching on gravel. Add to this really clear diction and individual voices, each really suited to the personalities they represent.

The hour past in a flash and we were really startled when it came to an end. I’d forgotten this was just a 60 min episode, it felt cinema-film epic… I just wanted it to continue. As far as I can tell the script is good, it’s not too aged historically to make it hard to understand and I think it will be easy on the ears of all English speaking audiences, without feeling too contemporary. Natural, unfussed is the one word that comes to mind. There are enough silences and pauses in dialogue for one to make their own mind about the character and even more, to admire the expression on their faces. And let’s face it the close up to the characters are almost as beautiful as the landscapes 😉 But I think in all cases are talking about good acting here, not standing around looking good.

Ah, and we all really appreciated the subtle and no so subtle humour in the script. Ross Poldark is surprisingly outspoken at times and because it is not overdone or slapstick and delivered naturally, but not too dead-pan it is really effective. You get a sense of a character which is spirited and bright, but not too cocky 😉 And he’s not the only one providing the light elements, there’s a variety of villagers, servants, uncles and cousins, animals 😉 who contribute.

I was relieved to see that it lived up to its marketing hype and I was drawn in immediately and can’t wait to see more. It is good and promises even better things to come.

(click on thumbnails below for bigger versions, sorry they are a bit blurry and dark, my zoom is not the best and the camera ran out of battery as well..)

The Q&A fully confirmed the great chemistry between main characters as well as the good atmosphere within the cast. There are a lot of firsts, a first true leading role for Aidan, a unique developing female role for Eleanor, a first adaptation of books for  Debbie Horsfield. But there is an obvious team spirit there, built through a lot of research and a 6 months location driven shoot. The enjoyment on working on the project is obvious from the affection with which they talk about it and from the friendly banter.

From what I have seen so far, Bazalgette has really done justice to Cornwall, the skies were really dizzyingly deep and you just wanted to tumble in the grass in the fields. The cinematography is beautiful and it adds a wonderful depth to the atmosphere. But the landscape is not a set, it’s a character on its own, the mines are part of it, the houses, the crossroads to home and far away, etc.

There were loads of laughs during the Q&A: about Eleanor really pestering the casting director to be seen as initially they only wanted to see her for the role of Elizabeth; then about her showing up in her brother’s oversized Xmas jumper to the audition; about the health and safety challenges of riding along the coast; about Aidan’s decidedly physical approach to the manual labours of the work (including heaving massive stones on the wall around Ross’ house to the director’s concern about a potential hernia that would kill filming 😉 – they initially gave him polystyrene ones which he refused); about the romantic impact of riding a horse together but the massive discomfort that it creates for the rider in the back ‘ggg’; about the Cornwall sun induced tan (not always …. :-p) ; the casting director having the impossible task of choosing strong and handsome actors for the iconic leading parts and having to settle for ‘just’ good actors ;-); about how a scene really called for shallow waters (you’ll have to wait to see what is meant, suffice to say it caused endless hilarity and Aidan to blush) . Oh and most of the time was spent actually answering questions from the public.

And as you can see from the pic above the public was quite mixed, it was by no means mainly fans.

But it wasn’t all banter, there was a lot of discussion about the potential stress of being pitched against the memories of the very successful previous adaptation (on an aside, Robin Ellis who embodied the previous Poldark was very supporting of the project and will be back for 2 episodes in a role – another aside Robin Ellis is Jack Ellis’ brother – Danforth in the Crucible). About the pressure and the pleasure of playing such a role can bring.. it’s been said often it is a mixture of Darcy, Rochester, Heathcliff, etc and it really is 🙂 Also about what a rewarding character Demelza is, as few female characters in period drama have such scope of growth and development. About the challenges of moving from being almost a boy as Demelza to a married women with children across the story arch. There was also an interesting debate about film vs television and appreciation of great work that is currently being done for TV with a number of really good series on the small screen. Both actors remarked that they felt TV scripts they had seen recently were much better than what they had seen for films for example.

Both actors shared with us some insight about their favourite scenes and what they love most about their characters: Aidan admires Ross’ determination and grit, the fact that he just gets on with it and doesn’t wallow and Eleanor love the growth and fearlessness of her character.

All I can say is they were really warm and funny in person and very compelling on screen. Can’t wait to see more 🙂

As we were making our way to the exit more than 2h 30 min later we bumped into a spontaneous gathering, Aidan had been caught between fans coming back from the gents 😉 He very graciously stopped to sign and take pictures in spite of the late hour 🙂 He’s really sweet I have to say!

We didn’t get out books signed because too many people were gathering, we just looked on a few minutes and left looking back with smile 🙂 Ah the books, we received these for free as part of the presentation pack!

So, look out for this in your TV schedule and make sure you don’t miss it!

To take away - book 1, new issue ;-)

To take away – book 1, new issue 😉

For extra info, pretty spoiler -free there is the BBC media pack. Includes some nice interviews with the cast, writer and director.

And the Radio Times article hidden behind the photo below has more production stills newly released 😉

PS if you are the lady with the red hair in the last pics with Aidan and want me to take down the pics, please say so and i#ll do asap.

PPS  Sorry for no titles, descriptions to photos, the editing and the info it wants does my head in!

PPPS there was a lot of banter about the hair 😉 Aidan said seeing it on screen he was almost sorry he’d chopped it off! LOL

Magical talisman

L2

close to the heart 😉

(this was exceedingly weird, taking selfies of one’s .. well.. bosom 😉 but it was all for a good cause and in gratitude for the lovely gift)

Remember the SpReAd the love initiative from the end of last year? I was the very lucky winner of Lucas North 😀 Time to thank the lovely Oscura properly (and sorry for the shameful delay)!!!! It’s beautiful and i think it’s sort of magical too and i certainly needed the bit of sparkle these last few weeks…

Before i go on, please check out the latest SprReAd the love – Children’s  books idea 🙂 I am sure there is a whole new generation of kids out there who need to know about the Hobbit 😉 or any other lovely stories you grew up with (in my case more like the brothers Grimm fairytales) .

I have no idea how come it is already February or where the time went. It’s been hectic at best and stressful most of the time. In this short time i’ve had 3 friends in hospital with ‘light’ problems around heart, kidney and thyroid. Various weeks, treatments and surgeries later the prognosis looks good all round although it has been a bumpy ride. It has also been really scary because we’re talking young people here mostly, in one case even younger than me.

Then i’d barely returned to London from visiting my parents when they both fell ill and caught some terrible colds/flu that they could barely speak for a few weeks. And let me tell you that worrying at a distance is horrible because you constantly feel out of control and not really knowing how things are. Just when they had stopped coughing through every word yesterday my dad tells me he’s in hospital until next week… He expresses himself wonderfully.. grrr!! because thankfully it turned out he is in for a bigger check -up and medication adjustment. It is still a worry as we are talking cardiology here, but ‘nothing changed as far as they can tell’ was actually good news in the end. I could have done with the news being delivered slightly differently than him saying ‘i’m calling you at work to tell you i’m in hospital….’

At the same time work was a splendour of bad planning with jobs scheduled too short, overrunning into the next job until i had 5 balls juggling last week and my desk had become like information at the central station! On Friday i felt like murdering somebody when my 3 respective managers went out for lunch for the 4th time that week while i had to work through mine at my desk.. you have 1 guess as to who had been doing all the work, including meetings they were too busy to attend… I think i may have come across slightly pissy once or twice..

By now i had taken to wearing my talisman like this over jumpers 😉 (and as above under thick woolly jumpers)

L for..???

L for..???

If this wasn’t going to work, nothing would!

At ‘home sweet home’, which is an over 100 years old conservation house, the temperature was ‘conservation’ indeed, never went beyond 20C at max even with heating at full whack. Not surprisingly as this has so far been the coldest winter since i’ve lived in the UK and the house still has sliding windows on ropes and paper thin walls (living in noisy sound communion with the neighbours is quite exciting i tell you…). I even degraded myself to sleeping with socks and in a bathrobe on top of pyjamas which i swore i’d never do before the age of 60! And buying a hot water bottle  became an appealing idea… i would have caved had the freeze lasted one more week.

Luckily i was saved from the purchase by the weather which went back to expected pouring rain last weekend, phew …blessed normality!

It seems some magic did happen as over the last 2 weeks some good things came my way too… well, not the bus strike which meant i had to walk to work on the day of pouring rain…. but i had a great run of Andrea Chenier at the ROH with my favourite singer, who’s still as gorgeous as ever, this occasion also prompted 3 sets of visitors to London & my home; also, a horse riding friend extended her generous involvement with the riding club to me as well and i got to visit the beautiful drum horses  of the Household Cavalry for the 2nd time! Yes, it is those same that you get to admire at the parades for the Queen, more info here. These gents are beautiful!!! (and i’m talking about the horses here, who by the way have the rank of Sergeant Major 🙂

Meet Achilles and Adamus:

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They were really well behaved and i only took a very few snaps as i was busy feeding them treats, apples and carrots 😉 This one didn’t really want to stay still so he’s nearly out of the shot.. i’d just fed him an apple and he wanted more so was looking at my bag 🙂

H2

They have biiig teeth and i was a bit afraid to extend my hand with the apple, but these are young and well behaved and not used to being spoiled, yet 😉 so they kept their teeth politely away from my fingers (i know , my mind went there as well..). i just got some very sloppy hand kisses 🙂

As you can see, even at my nearly 1,70 i am looking way up at them, to give you an idea of size, here next to some humans:

???????????????????????????????They have to be big and strong and very disciplined though to carry the very heavy silver drums. And very patient because they allowed me to pat them and stroke them without moving away or shoving me.

In addition to these 4 legged lords i also met a nice two legged gent at the theatre on Friday, the 13th! Stuck in incredibly cramped conditions on tortuously uncomfortable chairs and drenched from the rain we did manage to enjoy the View from the bridge with Mark Strong (hopefully more on that in a few days as it is worth a separate chat) due to the niceties exchanged before the show started. Rather than having me shuffle and squeeze past, he offered to change seats so i could just sit where i was and when i excused myself for my bag and wet coat and promised to wriggle as little as possible during the play in spite of the seat, he assured me very friendly that it would be no bother at all and to just not worry and be comfortable. Really nice person! Who even exchanged a smile and wished me a nice rest of the evening at the end after we both said how much we enjoyed it in spite of the seats. I’m not often as lucky with seat neighbours.

So here’s to Oscura for the lovely gift 🙂 and hopefully this will bring about a change from the start of the year. Ah, forgot to say, funny coincidence, one channel in my package is just starting to air Spooks so i’ve got it recording as it broadcasts and am just now getting to know Lucas 🙂

To follow probably more on the Red Dragon book which i have now read and have things to say about. I did listen to the poetry on some of the bus rides across town,  but i’m not really in a soppy mood, Valentines&pink&red are sooo not my thing and in any case i am ambivalent about the choices and the mood of the thing; so i’ll sit on it for a while and talk about it later and maybe i’ll give it another listen or two in the meantime.

Plenty happening even after the Hobbit and i have to say Thorin is still present in my mind,as is the Crucible; i seem to move at a much slower pace than the rest of the world, so please bear with me if my posts are out of sync with goings on.

Just a minute

Just a minute BBC R4 Host Nicholas Parsons with Julian Clary, Stephen Fry and David Tennant

Is a show on BBC Radio4 which involves public speaking (free and spontaneous) on a given subject for 1 minute 🙂 For example like this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02jrpxz/player

“David Tennant’s days with the Royal Shakespeare Company came in useful when he was asked to talk for 60 seconds without hesitation, repetition or deviation on the topic, ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’ (Release date: 11 Feb 2015)”

And it was his first time on the show 🙂

I love the English language although i know i’ll never be as good at it as i wish… I find i’m often reminded by how beautiful it actually is not watching the news or reading papers, not even reading books, but hearing people speak, actors in particular. Of course the language is their main professional tool and they probably understand it better than most of us, but still, the capacity some of them have to express ideas fluently, in a very rich vocabulary is fascinating. And it’s not only the vocabulary, it’s also the accents that I find fascinating. I could listen to people like Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, Stephen Fry, Richard Armitage, Ewan McGregor talk for hours and not get bored (and many more, the list is just too long to mention them all). Not just because they seem to always have something interesting to say, but also because of the way they say things and how they use the language and the words.

Of course reading enriches our vocabulary, but I think the active use of the language, the sounds and words show us how truly beautiful English can really be. And however much I like to experience it spoken on a stage, I find the unrestricted use of it in free speech even more fascinating. (Especially when it doesn’t come through discourse used by politicians, although I appreciate it when they are competent at it.)

I didn’t know about this show, but it is amazing fun and tests the speakers under quite stressful conditions 🙂 There are of course rules ..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02jrq42/player

“(Doctor) Who’s the new boy on Just a Minute? The rules are simple. Or are they? Just a Minute virgin, David Tennant gets confused and receives a lesson in the English language from Nicholas Parsons. David joins veterans Stephen Fry, Julian Clary and Paul Merton for a hilarious Just a Minute challenge. (Release date: 11 Feb 2015)”

In case you want to listen to the whole 30 min of the show, the link is below 🙂 We can safely say David knows a lot about Shakespeare 😉 And can talk about it quite brilliantly. But there is a lot more in there to listen to from some very competent guests, good fun and a lot of innuendo 😉  Enjoy!! (it is available for another 28 days)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b051ryqd

“Episode 1 Just a Minute, Series 71 Episode 1 of 8

It’s the return of Radio 4’s classic panel game in which the contestants are challenged to speak on a given subject for a minute without hesitation, repetition or deviation. This series, the guests include Jenny Eclair, Stephen Fry, Sheila Hancock, Robin Ince Paul Merton, Graham Norton, and trying his hand at the game for the first time, the tenth doctor, David Tennant. Recorded at the BBC’s Radio Theatre and Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, this long running and popular series enters its 47th year with the same wonderful host, Nicholas Parsons.Kicking off this first episode in the series are Julian Clary, Stephen Fry, Paul Merton and David Tennant who makes his first impressive appearance on the show. Subjects include Exit, Pursued by a Bear, which is Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction.”