Producer: Morris Barry
Director: Paul Annett, Christopher Barry, Kenneth Ives
POLDARK/Episode 1/Intro by Alistair Cooke
Good evening, I'm Alistair Cooke.
Tonight we begin a new series, called Poldark, based on the four novels of Winston Graham. It runs to sixteen weeks–episodes–and I can only say that now is the time for the party to settle in to a spate of loving, dueling, poaching, smuggling, wenching, and marrying,--not to mention banking and copper mining. Copper mining plays a big part in this story because we are in the county of Cornwall in England at the end of the eighteenth century.
I don't suppose today's tourists visit the copper mines, which are abandoned, but the Greeks and the Romans knew about them and at the end of the eighteenth century copper and tin were the main sources of wealth in a county that is otherwise practically treeless--barren but very beautiful. Those of you who have been there may have noticed those strange cones of pyramids on the horizon–they are China Clay deposits.
Maybe we should try to pin Cornwall down on the map. When I was a boy we were told that the map of Britain was that of a pig with a man on its back and it comes out very roughly like this [Cooke draws]. The trunk is England, with his very long head– Scotland. The pig's face is Wales. And here–what they call West Country–which goes from Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and here is Cornwall–the very end here is the tip of the island–Lands' End.
So we are in Cornwall, then, the end of the eighteenth century just at the close of the American Revolutionary War and the surrender of the British forces to George Washington and the Continental Army. The date, as any handy schoolboy will tell you, is 1783. And our hero, Captain Ross Poldark, who has been serving in George III's forces, has come home to Cornwall. He has just landed and is on his way home back to his estate, which has indifferent farming but two copper mines. It's called Nampara. During the War he has heard that his father is no longer alive, but his relatives don't know that he himself is alive. This is not surprising because during the war they didn't have any transatlantic mail service. In fact in this year of 1783, England saw its first domestic mail coach going between Bristol and London.
So we open with Captain Poldark jogging home in a stagecoach to meet and amaze his friends.
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