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Archive for the ‘Poldark’ Category

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My memoir of MAKING POLDARK–with a chapter on how I got involved in the 2015 adaptation of Winston Graham’s romantic saga, and behind-the-scenes photos taken during the shooting of the new series–is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER on Amazon.

(The book is currently available only on Amazon USA.)

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The stage is set, the ring is built and only hours to go before the bell sounds.

Bare knuckled it maybe–this is the 18th century–but not bare chested; in tonight’s confrontation the players have agreed to keep their shirts  on–at least in the physical sense.

(One might imagine that this is both a relief and a disappointment, depending which side you’re putting your money on).

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The director trying unsuccessfully to persuade Dr Halse to take his shirt off..

The gloves are off  and Ross doesn’t pull any punches regarding his thoughts on the justice system operating in Cornwall.

And of this particular administer of “justice” he has painful memories.

The Rev. Dr. Halse was headmaster of Truro Grammar School and administered justice in the form of thrashing frequently on the person across the court from him today.

So there’s baggage and backstory to tonight’s confrontation.

There’s also a distinct feeling of deja-vu—as though somehow we’ve been through this movie before.

It all feels faintly familiar—certainly for one of the parties….

Anyway–seconds out and let the best man win

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Jim Carter looks a little too trusting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To celebrate the ‘first night’ of the new Poldark on British TV this evening, here’s a roast chicken even Prudie* could cook in the kitchen at Nampara**!

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From my first cookbook,  Delicious Dishes for Diabetics:

Every cook has a version of this classic–roast chicken.

This one is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s simple, tasty and robust recipe.

Serves 4/5

1 free-range chicken

olive oil

salt and pepper

6 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic – unpeeled

a  lemon – halved
a glass white wine

Heat the oven at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

Rub the chicken all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper

Stuff the cavity with the bay leaves, garlic and lemon halves.

Roast the chicken for 1  1/2 hours.

Halfway through, baste it thoroughly.

When it is cooked, it should be nicely browned and the juices should run clear, not pink.

At that point, remove the pan from the oven and move the cooked bird onto a platter to rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, tip the roasting pan and spoon out most of the fat/oil—leaving about a tablespoonful in the pan.

Pick up the bird carefully with a pair of oven gloves and up-end it, letting the juices run back into the pan. Add any juices that have settled in the platter too.

(A little tricky—but worth it for the taste of the gravy.)

Park the chicken and cover it with foil to keep it warm while you make the gravy.

Add the glass of white wine and scrape any residue sticking to the pan.

Gently stir over a low-ish heat for 2–3 minutes.

You could add some stock or more wine to make it go a little further.

Taste and pour into a warmed jug.

We had this for lunch today!

 * Prudie and Judd are Ross Poldark’s old retainers who have let **Nampara–the family “seat”–go to wrack and ruin, while Ross is away soldiering in vain to save the “American Colonies” for the King.
Prudie’d do well, cooking this to get back into Ross’ good books!

Tonight we’ll be raising a glass to Aidan, Eleanor

and the whole wonderful cast!

Go well and bon appetit, mes braves!

 

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Just back from UK where I recorded my memoir of Poldark as an audio book–with an extra chapter about taking part in the new BBC/Mammoth version–40 years after doing the original!

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Two days in a small, soundproof booth in a basement recording studio in Hove in Sussex, while the wind and the rain raged above ground.

I was fortunate to have three helpmates in the studio running the show–and keeping my nose to the microphone.

Chris Daniels, sound engineer, owns the studio and is a member of that fraternity of calm console operators who are never flustered.

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They have seen it all before–and behave as though they read the first verse of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, IF, before sitting down to work:

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
 
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And you’ll be make a Sound Engineer, my son!
(With apologies to Mr. Kipling.)
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My old friend, Constantine de Goguel Toulouse-Lautrec–his grandmother was in St. Petersburg in the October Revolution of 1917 and survived–sat in the producer’s seat and guided a rusty performer through the sessions with grace and years of experience.
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He’s a fine actor and an experienced dialogue coach for movies.
He also runs Spoken Ink–subtitled “The Home of Short Audio“–well worth checking out.
Meredith made up the triumvirate as back-up producer keeping a beady eye on the script and an ear out for things that could be better (like the American pronunciation of “Potomac”!).
Her occasional ripple of involuntary laughter was a morale boost for The Man in the Sound Proof Booth!
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The project is in post production now. When complete, we’ll announce it here.

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 The polling booths are open and the show is on the road.

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From the Highlands to the Lowlands from the east coast to the west coast, over 90% of the population is expected to vote–unprecedented in a western democratic referendum.

It’s a game changer, they are saying; even if it’s “NO”, nothing will ever be the same again.

Watching the NO campaign in panic mode, desperately playing catch-up when the polls started shifting–promising the kitchen sink to save the Union, has been entertaining.

But now, there’s nothing left to do but vote–if you live in Scotland–or twiddle your thumbs, if you don’t, awaiting the results tomorrow morning.

I fell to a spot of speculation while my thumbs were twiddling.

Just supposing the vote today was taking place in the far west of ENGLAND.

The Cornish were deciding whether to cut loose from Albion (“emmet land” to the Cornish) and go it alone! (There have been rumblings!)

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And just supposing Ross Poldark had the gift of eternal life (well, Mammoth TV Productions are doing a convincing job reviving him!), how would he VOTE?

Trotting down the lane to the polling station in Pendeen, where would his cross go?

YES or NO??

Any clues?

He’s a free spirit, independent, anti-establishment, a risk taker, a convention flaunter, out of his time even.

He’s been “elsewhere”, albeit to fight for the “oppressor” in America. He has seen another side of things.

He’s a landowner, mine boss, member of the privileged class, yes–but…

Unlike the denizens of Downton Abbey, upstairs at least–safe to bet on a “no” there–Ross is less easy to predict.

(Though I felt disappointed to read that later in life he’d accepted a knighthood and become a Tory MP and best friends with Foreign Secretary George Canning! Ross Poldark!? Scourge of the local gentry, defender of the poor, natural leftie?!  Oh dear…!

So voting “NO”, Ross?

I’ll answer for him. (Well we were quite close for a while!) Begging Winston Graham’s pardon for the presumption of course….

 I’d wager that he’d not be able to resist the call.

Cornwall for the Cornish! Clear out the cupboard and start over–a new order!

“We’ve tin and copper–well, we’ll find it and china clay too.”

The old radical Ross would awake and be leading the charge–to the cliffs’ edge some would be saying.

“You know me well,” says Ross. “Did you see Andy Murray’s tweet this morning?”

“Let’s do this!”

 

 

 

 

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Ask any actor who has done time in repertory theatre what is the most frequently asked question by keen theatre-goers and I’d wager the answer would be:

“How do you learn the lines?”

I might have answered “with difficulty“, after drying on my first line (saying “Grace”) as the Vicar in Murder at the Vicarage on opening night at Salisbury Playhouse in the mid-60s .

It’s the nuts and bolts of the job–but never gets any easier.

Telly Savalas as Kojak had his lines taped all over the set and even–hard to believe–to the other actors’ foreheads!

Even if I’d been able to read them without my glasses, I couldn’t be shamed into that!

Samuel West‘s contribution to this article in The Guardian recently–actors’ advice to fellow actors–reminded me of the run-up to filming my two short scenes in the new adaptation of POLDARK*.

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To anyone learning lines for a day’s filming where there is NO rehearsal, he says:

Learn your lines with a friend the night before filming. Say them looking into your friend’s eyes. Your friend will be distracting you. You will think you know the scene because you can do it looking at the floor, but human contact is distracting – and you want there to be human contact when you film the scene.

Learning the night before? I’ve always needed time for lines to settle and stick (slow study it’s called in the trade)–but I know what he means.

Meredith volunteered  to hear my lines weeks before my first day’s shoot for POLDARK and eventually I took up her offer.

I’d been pounding them into my reluctant brain on my daily walk for weeks.

She suggested, like Samuel West, that I aimed them directly at her.

But for a while I was unwilling to engage with her spirited rendition of Captain Poldark–and continued doing exactly what Samuel West warns against–saying the lines, very convincingly, to nowhere in particular–sometimes to the floor.

In the end, I did engage. It was, as Sam says, usefully distracting–good preparation for when I had to project them across the chasm of the crowded, noisy courtroom.

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Meredith watched the shooting of the trial of Jim Carter [Me-lud presiding!] on a monitor in a freezing anti-room of the medieval hall where we were filming.

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In a pause while they were re-setting the lights she popped outside for a coffee to warm herself up.

There was Aidan Turner (aka Ross Poldark)…

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…pacing up and down, going through his lines.

They hadn’t formally met at this point.

So as not distract him, she discreetly tucked herself into a corner with her coffee.

Suddenly, becoming aware that there was just the two of them, he confided:

“This scene is important and I want to get it right!”

“I know it well,”  she said.  “I rehearsed the lines over and over with Robin–playing YOU!”

Aidan roared with laughter.

Meredith sensibly didn’t offer to hear his lines….

 

*The new adaptation of Winston Graham’s  POLDARK saga is being produced by Mammoth Screen for the BBC and PBS’ Masterpiece in the USA, to be broadcast next year.

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A week today at roughly 5.05 pm the Reverend Dr Halse walked out of the card room on the ground floor of George Warleggan’s impressive mansion and disappeared.

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It had been a bruising encounter.

That pest, Poldark–more than a pest–a ruffian and a rogue–had challenged him and indeed any of his esteemed colleagues on the bench to “meet” him at any convenient time.

An outrage.

As he headed for the door he was heard muttering:

He is a traitor to his class and he WILL get his come-uppance–such men are dangerous and must not be tolerated!

Next meeting of the justices…!

If it were up to me alone, he’d be following Jim Carter to Bodmin Gaol or better still–the Antipodes.

And then he was gone–in a puff of self-righteous, sulfurous smoke.

*          *          *

In truth, he popped in a unit car and with Meredith by his side was driven the short distance to the unit camp.

There he was relieved of the wig and the costume and–Jekyll and Hyde-like–resumed his everyday guise as Robin.

In a trice the car was off again, speeding towards Bath and the London train.

All that was left of the Reverend Dr. Halse was a name on the dressing room door–

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a pile of sombre 18th century clerical clothes, a beautifully woven wig and a faint smell of sulfur in the air….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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