Archive for the ‘Poldark’ Category

As part of the publicity for my new cook book, Healthy Eating for Life, I was interviewed  a couple of weeks back for the The Daily Express’ popular Saturday morning feature:

Whatever Happened to ???! 

Which puts me in mind of theFive lives of an actor”:

Runs like this:

Who is Robin Ellis?

What about Robin Ellis?

We must have Robin Ellis!

We need someone like Robin Ellis….

Whatever Happened to Robin Ellis…??

The good thing is that this sequence can recycle more than once!

(Click on the article to get a bigger, readable version.)
ExpressArticleJan'12(Apologies to those who have already been subjected to this on Facebook.)

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For the past few days I’ve been holed up in bed with the “lurgie” (a tummy bug).

In a reversal of roles, Meredith has been cooking and caring (she was ill first)–serving up simple, delicious, restorative vegetable soup and scrambled eggs.

Yesterday I had stomach enough to read a brilliant piece in The Observer newspaper by food writer Jay Rayner challenging people’s reluctance to give a second try to food they have detested eating (or in my case, the thought of eating)–tripe for instance.


It transported me back nearly 35 years to Madrid.


Angharad and I were in Spain to promote Poldark, which was proving enormously popular there.

At that time there were only two TV channels–and the other one was devoted to parliamentary debates.

The visit was an extraordinary experience.

Two thousand plus fans at the airport to welcome us. We were mobbed everywhere we went–it felt momentarily like being a Beatle. (Nobody waiting for us at Heathrow on our return, however….)

Years before Angharad had spent some months in the city au pairing for the family of a well known psychiatrist–a friend and professional colleague of her father Professor Lynford Rees.

Her return had a particular resonance for her and the Spanish family.

To celebrate, they threw a lunch party for us at their home.

It was a moment of peace, an escape from the craziness of the celebrity culture that was new to me and which I was finding both exciting and at times hard to handle.

(At one point, the tabloid johnnies were crowding me with questions about how it was that at the age of 35 I wasn’t married. Angharad–sensing the danger of an explosion–whispered in my ear, “Smile, Robin, for heaven’s sake, SMILE!”.

The party was delightful, of course, except for one detail: The main dish was tripe in tomato sauce.


Photo found on the Internet–but strongly resembling the dreaded dish.

Tripe, I’m told, is a delicacy in Spain–and cooked by an expert (I have to take Jay Rayner’s word for it) it’s delicious.

I eat most things–growing up in the fifties, fussiness about food was not encouraged in our house. The starving children in India featured often at meal times when a reluctance to polish off the last crumb was shown. My mother never tried tripe on us though.

I remember looking down at the plate I’d been offered and after a moment mastering feelings of politeness, guilt and hunger, turning discreetly away from the crowd and parking the plate of offal, untried, behind a palm tree.

There have been moments since–in Florence for example where street stalls selling steaming piles of tripe are a regular sight–when I have thought about giving it a second try. So far I have managed to resist the temptation.

Anyone else willing to own up to a food phobia?

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Time to “festival”!


Here for a week in Edinburgh.


First festival visit for nearly a quarter of a century–hard to believe how quickly the time flies.

We have achieved a modest total–for festival goers–of five plays, a variety show, a stand-up comedian, an art exhibit on the subject of witches and a talk by a lobby correspondent dishing the dirt on politicians, so far.

Meredith can count a visit to the book fair, a visit to the jazz club and ride on the bumper cars on top…


…while I was taking 24 hours to go to London to be the studio guest on SATURDAY LIVE on BBC Radio 4.

Click below to listen to the programme (just until the end of the week!).


p.s. Oh yes and a whisky tasting too!


With our host, Steve, at the Scottish Malt Whisky Society Tasting Bar

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With fond memories of the late Angharad Rees

The BBC announced yesterday that Poldark is to be remade and will hit the screens in 2015–the 40th anniversary of the original showing.

Amazing news for everyone who loves a good story, for fans of the original, for Cornwall and for a whole new generation who are unaware of the rich pickin’s in Winston Graham’s saga.

His stories and characters are still being enjoyed 70 years after he wrote the first book in 1945. They still stand up–as many who contribute to this blog bear witness.

Our Winston was a master storyteller and we, the original cast, were lucky to be involved.

Mammoth Screen is the company producing the new version.

They have recently been responsible for Parade’s End and Endeavour (the prequel to Morse). Both period pieces done with a care and attention to detail that bodes well for the remake of Poldark.

Richard Morant, the first Dr. Enys, who died too young at 65 in 2011 was asked in a TV programme what made Poldark a success. He replied:

It’s about love—it’s about betrayal—the things that hurt us– the things that give us joy….Where people you know are going through their emotions, expressing their feelings of love, life and death–it evokes strong attachments, strong passion–and you love it! You love them, you love the people, you cherish them, you honour them, you respect them!”

Winston would have liked this explanation and I’m sure would have joined me in wishing Good luck to everyone involved in the new project.

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The second group of Bravehearts (participants in my cooking workshops here) are enjoying an aperitif in the sunshine, on the terrace of the magnificent and aptly named B & B, La Terrace de Lautrec.


We are about to sit down to a well deserved final meal (prepared by us of course).

Lunch, al fresco, overlooking the historic parterre–newly-clipped and  immaculate.


Suddenly we hear a ruckus from inside the house. The sound of a voice that has a familiar and unwelcome ring to me–is of a particular timbre.

Loud, angry and Scots! 

It triggers unpleasant memories and I find my overall sense of well being and satisfaction at completing a second workshop is swiftly turning into a feeling of anxiety–as I realise I am about to be nabbed!

Like the dour Scot he was back in the days of Poldark, dear old Captain McNeil never gave up the chase, it appears! His persistence (some would say his obsession) has finally paid off for him and I am cornered by a red faced redcoat on horseback!


Donald Douglas as Capt. McNeil


Happily for all concerned, the redoubtable Captain (aka Donald Douglas), after agreeing to hang up his musket–sits down, at the head of the table and charms us all with his highland banter.



Old enemies bury the past.

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When I woke up this morning Pippa–mother of all cats–was there on the bed as she has been for the last two days. She was at her toilet–conscientiously licking her paw, then wiping her cheeks and ear with it–a built-in flannel [washcloth] so to speak.

It reminded me I hadn’t shaved for two days–I’d been laid up with a “gastro“, which had started at roughly 1.30am on the morning after my birthday.

The only other time I remember being as sick (literally) was the day I was filming the dénouement scene in an episode of Sherlock Holmes. I had a long speech of explanation to deliver to a solemn, suspicious and silent Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke and a very young  Jude Law. I managed the first take without interruption–but had to RUN on the word CUT –and it was a bumpy ride ’til we finished.

Two nights ago at least I had no lines to remember. My timing was better on this occasion! The birthday was over and had been much enjoyed. Meredith gave me an album–cataloguing the story of an eventful year–superb photos mostly taken by her.


Pippa looking for a photo of herself.

Looking back on my birthday though, there were signs of trouble ahead.

I remember feeling relieved I had planned ahead and prepared the Lamb Tagine (see recipe below) the day before. That left the broccoli starter and the bulgar wheat–simple!

We were eight round the table–old friends–including my old adversary from Poldark days, Donald Douglas (aka Captain McNeil). It was convivial. I was enjoying the occasion.

It was only late the next day that I realised I had forgotten an essential step in the preparation of the starter–grilling the broccoli (see below). As I served up the dish, I had a nagging feeling something was not quite right! (We have a tradition of forgetting key ingrediants when entertaining for crowds!).

PLUS I forgot to prepare the bulgar wheat, so the table had to wait while it fluffed up.

The recipes:

This dish also served as the starter for the special Saturday dinner on my October Cooking Workshop:

It is adapted from a recipe in Ottolenghi’s eponymous first cookbook.

On that night it tumbled over a small pile of salad leaves–radiccio, rocket, lettuce–dressed with olive oil lemon juice and salt.

Here it is on a bed of Sam Talbot’s Quinoa.

1lb broccoli–broken into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

garlic cloves–sliced as thin as you can

2 fresh red chilis, medium hot–de-seeded and sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

lemon sliced very thin

  • Steam the broccoli–more than blanched less than tender–still crunchy in other words.
  • Remove to a bowl and pour over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt.
  • Heat a grill to hot.
  • Scatter the broccoli over it and colour lightly. [Don’t FORGET this step!]

  • Return to the serving bowl.
  • Heat the second batch of oil.
  • When hot cook the garlic slices and the chili until the garlic takes on some color.

  • Pour this mixture over the broccoli.
  • Add the lemon slices and mix in carefully.
  • Serve on a bed of salad leaves dressed with  olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Lamb Tagine with dried apricots & flageolet beans

(Reproduced from Delicious Dishes for Diabetics p 138)

This superb dish for company is adapted from one in Frances Bissell’s exceptional book The Pleasures of Cookery.

for 6/8

2 kg/41⁄2 lb boned shoulder of lamb–cut away as much fat as possible, ending up with about 1.5 kg/31⁄2 lb lean lamb, cut into 2 cm/1 inch cubes

3 tbsp olive oil
3 onions–sliced
4 cloves of garlic–chopped
11⁄2 tsp cumin seeds
11⁄2 tsp coriander seeds
850 ml/11⁄2 pints/31⁄2 cups stock--I use organic vegetable stock cubes
24 dried apricots–halved (use the yellow ones as they show up better in the sauce later)
salt and pepper
parsley, or even better coriander–chopped
1 large tin flageolet beans–drained and rinsed

  1. Heat the oven at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Seal the meat in hot oil, using a large frying pan; when nicely browned, remove it to the ovenproof casserole you will serve it from.
  3. Gently fry the onions and garlic in the fat and oil left in the pan without browning them.
  4. Fold in the whole spices and let them cook a little.
  5. Add almost all the stock, leaving just enough in which to heat up the beans, and let it reduce a bit.
  6. Add the apricots. Season this mixture and pour it into the casserole.
  7. Add a handful of parsley or coriander.
  8. Heat the beans in a little stock and when hot add to the casserole. Turn everything over carefully.
  9. Bring it all to a simmer and place it on a low shelf in the preheated oven.
  10. Cook for 2 hours, checking after an hour to see if it needs topping up with stock – being careful not to lose the intensity of the sauce.
  11. Serve over bulgar wheat [Which you’ve remember to prepare!]

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Making Poldark has been Nooked at last!

Nick it on NOOK–it’s a steal!

It’s available now on NOOK.

Making Poldark: Memoir of a BBC/Masterpiece Theatre Actor
Making Poldark: Memoir of a BBC/Masterpiece Theatre Actor
by Robin Ellis
This revised version came out in April 2012 and is greatly expanded–including new photos from Winston Graham’s personal Poldark photo album.
And while we are at it…
Delicious Dishes for Diabetics
Delicious Dishes for Diabetics 

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