Season Two, Episode Three: Poldark Family Reunion

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Related to: Poldark, Season 2

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Francis pulls together and hosts a lively harvest celebration, reuniting both sides of the Poldark clan in opposition to the hated Warleggans. Ross, meanwhile, ignores the glad tidings and makes his true feelings known. What is he thinking? We try and sort out the Poldarks in all their confusing complexities, together.

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Transcript

Barrett Brountas: It’s harvest season again in Cornwall, and crops aren’t the only bounty on the table this season. Romance, both new and old, is blooming.

CLIP

Elizabeth Perhaps I have hidden talents.

Ross I don’t dispute that. For somehow you’ve managed to bring the light back to Francis’s eyes.

Elizabeth I cannot imagine how.

Ross Can you not?

Elizabeth You should go to bed, Ross. Demelza will be thinking you’ve gone astray.

Barrett Ross and Demelza, meanwhile, prepare to welcome another new child to Nampara by selling most of their worldly possessions — Ross’ steep loan interest waits for no mine.

CLIP

Pascoe: I write to remind you that your loan of one thousand pounds with interest at forty percent is shortly due for repayment. Your friend, Harris Pascoe.

Barrett I’m Barrett Brountas, and this is Mining Poldark, a podcast from MASTERPIECE.

We’ll cover quite a lot of ground this episode, as Ross rekindles old flames, Demelza rejects a variety of unwanted suitors and Caroline Penvenen digs in for another go at the skilled and all-too-serious Dr. Dwight Ennis.

I’m thrilled to be joined, as always, by my co-host, Robin Ellis, the original Ross Poldark from our 1970s adaptation of the series. Hi Robin!

Robin Ellis:  Hello, Barrett!

Barrett We’ll start off with a blow-by-blow of this juicy episode, and then share our key big scenes from the episode, too. Would you like to kick off with your recap?

Robin: Sure, okay. Here we go. It’s harvest time and there’s a bumper yield in this episode after the tensions and tears of the trial we are entering a new phase of the saga. There’s rich pickings as Judd would say, and he says a lot. Here he reaps what he sowed at the trial when he reneged on his pledge to lie about Ross and is left for dead by George’s henchmen.

Barrett: But psyche! He’s not dead. And Prudie’s brief widowhood and his resurrection are played for laughs. An even happier resurrection occurs in Francis who has a new and delightful lease on life. He’s like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning and in his tossing of hay, his tussling of Geoffrey Charles’s hair and the spark in his eye. We have forgiven him everything.

Robin Ross and Demelza are facing imminent penury are forced to sell almost all bar the kitchen sink to meet the interest payment on the loan. This seems to reunite them. Though she has yet to tell him she’s pregnant again. Dwight and Caroline continue their merry dance with Caroline leading, dressed in the reddest coat ever seen in Cornwall.

Barrett Ross’s intoxication with Elizabeth inexplicably occurs and has him singing pretty after hours what ifs about a millimeter away from her as poor Demelza listens in the shadows outside the door. When she sobs out the news of the coming baby shortly after, he expresses his willingness to risk his heart, giving us hope once again

Robin And what is Ross looking at in the distance as he returns to an Nampara with a cart full of hay and a mind full of financial worries weighing heavily on him? It could be Wheal Grace, the Poldark mine closed over 50 years ago. Perhaps the future lies there deep in its waterlogged depths.

Barrett: Oh boy that’s good. You’ve done an amazing job well synthesizing it all because a lot happened in this episode. So I’ve learned that you and I share one of our when one of our favorite moments from the episode and I can’t wait to find out which one it is. Let’s have you kick off and start us off?

Robin Okay well mine is part of quite a long sequence and it’s I call it the sale of assets, a slightly technical sounding phrase but it’s actually what it is really. Cause I think he writes his assets on one side of the page and on the other they’re something else. But anyway this this part of it and actually it does go on and it’s it’s it’s it’s lovely it’s got the cart ride into the town and the selling off of everything and people looking at them on the cart in public you know that the shame of it all and the. And then this shot of them leaving the little town and going back with an empty cart. It’s got everything but in just before all that happens there’s a scene where Ross and Demelza walk in the woods near the house and have a chat and it’s sort of quite early on and the atmosphere between them has been pretty tense. Not very happy really. Yeah. But somehow this this crisis that unites them in this intimate walk through the woods and it’s very touching and humor often brings them together and they they they list the possible assets that they have that would have to be put up for sale.

CLIP

Ross We have, however, a more pressing concern. Last year I asked Pascoe to find me a loan of one thousand pounds. The interest – at forty per cent – is due this week.

Demelza Four hundred pounds?

Ross Yes!

Demelza How is half such a sum to be found? What’s to be done?

Ross Ride to Truro, see if Pascoe’s managed to get the loan extended for another year? In the meantime, the more I work in the mine, the better our chances of reaching Trevorgie.

Demelza And the interest?

Ross Look about you. See what you can bear to part with. Then look again.

Robin And it’s sort of a nice a nice intimate scene between them.

Barrett Yeah.

Robin Where they they show their love really through humor and an acceptance of what they have to do and they go off and do it. And it’s a touching sequence.

Barrett I think it’s wonderful. I completely agree and I mean you do see how it does it does bring them together. And I like that encounter when they were in town with George and you see that Demelza helps Ross out of that before it escalates. You know it’s very good, their partnership is sometimes strongest when times are toughest, or at least so far.

Robin This emphasizes that and I agree about the little the little meeting with George which is quite quite dangerous and  it has to be said that Ross obeys. I mean he doesn’t pursue this time, and is led away from George just before it all explodes.

CLIP

George Ross! How are you? Oh, you don’t look at all well. Can it be the anxieties of the trial?

Ross Nor you, George. Could you have had some disappointment?

George None that I know of…

Ross Perhaps it is yet to come.

Demelza Ross!

Barrett And that means a lot because you know he’s he could feel very humiliated right at this moment. You know having to sell everything and yet he still doesn’t take George’s bait. That’s pretty upstanding so I’m going to remember that later when we evaluate his hero.

Robin Good, good, good, good. Yes, yes. I’ve been evaluating that he’s been coming and going actually but it’s looking not too bad.

Barrett Let’s take a quick break before our next scene to hear a word from our sponsors…

Barrett What’s next? What do you have next?

Robin This is number two, it’s called the scene over the body of Judd. And it’s funny because I do remember that I think it’s what is it Henry V I think by Shakespeare it sort of immediately reminded me of Mistress Quickly’s speech over Falstaff’s body. and it’s it’s the only time Falstaff makes an appearance in Henry’s office and he’s like he’s dying basically. But she has this famous speech in in reminiscing about him and how he did babble of green fields and you know false starts an equally doubtful character in many ways rather like God and Prudie his reaction is is very much hot and cold really.

CLIP

Prudie ‘Oo’ could have done such a thing? He ‘ad no enemies – he were the sweetest, kindliest, most peaceable cove a body could meet! An’ ner a cross word did pass ‘is lips. An’ now I left a widder – all forlorn – without a penny in the world – not e’en t’ berry the poor soul – God rest it!

Paul There is this …When we moved ‘im, they fell out of ‘is pockets.

Prudie Gold sov’reigns? Gold sov’reigns? Where’d ‘e get such…?

Ross Where indeed?

Prudie Why, th’ mizzerly, mazzerly stinkin’, black worm! He ‘ad ’em about ‘im an’ never tell’d me?

Zacky Reckon ’tis from the Trade?

Ross That’s unlikely.

Prudie ‘I’ll! knock ‘im sideways down Stippy-Stappy Lane!Then give ‘im a rare good berryin’. Rum an’ vittles – hymns an’ viols – widder’s weeds for poor ole Prudie. ‘Tis a matter of lookin’ respectable, ’tis. We mus’ sen the ole man off fitty ways.

Robin One has to say that for for Prudie and she’s a good soul. Really, and she changes again it says instead of saying well you know we’ll go off and gamble it all away she says we’ll have a good funeral. Well we must send him send the old man off in 50 ways which I like that.

Barrett I loved that, I love it.

Robin And the scene continues with another talk between Ross and Demelza as well. Ross is sort of well he’s very sympathetic because he’s known he’s known Judd since he was a small boy.

CLIP

Ross I’ve known him since I was a child. He was the most useless servant under the sun – but he taught me to smoke a pipe – and cheat at Loo…

Robin It’s a rich little scene and very nicely done I think and you know Prudie pretty gets a really good chance in this scene and that’s why I chose it really. Because Judd gets a lot of chances early on. He’s as I said at the beginning is he’s not silent is he’s a big talker in this one very amusing talker as well but he’s just lying for the moment anyway, prone on the bench.

Barrett It’s very good. I agree. I think that one of the things I love most about Prudie is her gift with language and you what you what you quoted you know illustrates it so nicely I mean she is really hurt. Her language is wonderful it’s so rich and and delightful. You just would love to sort of pull out all these moments and and usually these greatest greatest moments of language with her occur when she’s angry. But they’re they’re fantastic. And she does she she sort of swings wildly from one emotion to another and one sort of external like pose to another and I guess in a way I thought oh that’s just a lovely comic delight. But in a way I think that there may be some emotional truth to that too that when someone is grieving they are swinging wildly you know back and forth from because a grief is is complicated. So it is it’s all round really nice stuff.

Robin And it reflects the the relationship I think which you know is not not a smooth one might say press but a loving one in the end I think.

Barrett Yeah. Another thing I like about your choice of that scene is that that funeral feast or that that week parallels the other two feasts that are occurring at the same time.

Robin It does. Very much so. Yes there are three feasts on it. It’s harvest festivals in a way. But the two of them and this one is mirrors them in a sense you’re right. It’s a nice moment. Yeah.

Barrett Yeah. OK. So for my first moment we’re going to go back to the time before Ross and Demelza sort of reconciled and went on that walk that you talked about when Ross was getting more and more stressed out over his debt but he hadn’t yet told Demelza everything I think he hadn’t revealed it yet. And she in turn was becoming more and more stressed about this pregnancy that she hasn’t told him about yet and not having the opportunity and not taking the opportunities when she’s had it. So MacNeill shows up comes in has a drink by the fire with Demelza. and and says that Bodrugan wants her to come and help heal his sick cow which we later know is just a ruse to get her over there.

CLIP

Demelza Did you mislay your manners? Leavin’ me alone to deal with our guest?

Ross You appeared to be handling him admirably. I felt like an intruder.

Demelza Meaning what?

Ross Demelza, d’you really suppose he wants you to cure Bodrugan’s cow? He makes his intentions very plain.

Demelza I think I ought to be able to judge that for myself.

Ross No doubt you think so, just be careful his uniform doesn’t dazzle you. It has that effect on some people.

Demelza Especially a common miner’s daughter who don’t know any better?

Ross That’s for you to demonstrate.

Demelza You are detestable – sayin’ that!

Ross I’m sure I didn’t start this argument.

Demelza No, but you never do! You just give me cold shoulder an’ sour looks an’ despise everything that isn’ up to your high-an’-mighty standards!

Barrett So I loved this moment between them because they’re really just bickering about nothing. And what I love so much about this is that it is just sort of a classic marriage argument where the man is is baffled by how this even transpired. How did I get into this position? Why are we both mad at each other. They are both very stressed out and they’re bringing that each of their own stresses to this interaction. And just having a bicker. So I thought there was some real truth to that and that’s what I loved about that moment.

Robin I think you’re absolutely right. It reflected the frustration that both feeling at the moment, she with him for for being off and non-communicative with her. You know they they’ve come back from the trial a really hugely-stressful emotional time and he’s suddenly gone into a kind of mood. And yeah it’s just too bad it’s too bad. She wants to communicate with him of course she wants to tell him that she’s pregnant at the time just right the time isn’t right and time isn’t right.

Barrett My next moment that I wanted to talk with you about was this absolutely beautiful scene of the ceremony that’s called crying the neck. This is this harvest ceremony and it begins with a view over the the hills of grain underneath the most clear blue sky. You see the the harvesters advancing and then you see that it’s Francis and Elizabeth in this beautiful like a delicious idyllic setting. You know with, like industry and love and nature all of these these different things coming together and then in come Ross and Demelza and you have this incredible reconciliation. And then there’s a really wonderful ceremony where they’re celebrating the harvest and the bounty. And again it’s one of those things that makes you feel as you’re watching it like there’s this real authenticity to it that you that you’re looking at something that probably went on for hundreds of years. That doesn’t happen anymore. And so  there’s just like a real opportunity to get to experience that something from that time period there’s wonderful.

Robin I totally agree and it’s my third scene as well. I thought it was a remarkable bucolic scene. Yes, reconciliation. I mean it includes the the meeting and shaking of hands of Ross and Francis. True reconciliation really. Very truthful and ends with this extraordinary traditional and I believe that they do traditional societies in Cornwall still celebrate in this way.

CLIP

Francis Cousin. It’s an unexpected pleasure!

Elizabeth Thank you for bringing him. It means the world to Francis.

Ross You look well, cousin.

Francis Demelza.

Demelza Francis.

Francis Welcome!

Francis I ‘ave ‘n! I ‘ave ‘n! I ‘ave ‘n!

Everyone: What ‘ave ‘ee? What ‘ave ‘ee? What ‘ave ‘ee?

Francis A neck! A neck! A neck!

Everyone Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Barrett You see when when Francis is holding it above his head you know crying, ‘A neck! A neck! A neck! you see his sort of just this pure happiness and sort of humility in him you know it’s it’s wonderful and then that that sort of handing it to his son. So it’s it’s passing it along. You know I had an opportunity to ask Debbie Horsfield about this ceremony and she she told me that that it wasn’t the it wasn’t specifically in the book that they were filming in Cornwall at the beginning of September which is the harvest season. So even though the incidents in the book take place at Christmas they said they decided to work with what they had which was fields of grain that were just harvested in this like balmy warm weather. So they were looking around at traditional Cornish rituals and ceremonies that might fit the story and bring the characters together in this sort of celebratory kind of way. And their Cornish advisor and their 18th century historical advisor suggested from among various Cornish traditions this festival called crying the neck. So that’s what they used. And I loved that they that they used this sort of the setting that they were in rather than imposing something on it. So again you just have that great feeling of authenticity and and you can almost just like smell the heat of the hay you know and feel the feel the warmth of the sun. That’s wonderful.

Robin And it is and it starts with a remember that shot from low and you see the sort of tops of heads down a distance down there in a row and you realize after a while. Very quickly what they’re doing and then they reverse the shot and there they all are and there’s Francis with his call to say that they say. And in a row. And it has a sort of organic truth about it. Yes it is. And it develops then into into the final scene where they they celebrate the end of the harvest. It’s a it’s a real celebration. I didn’t know that that’s the story of why they did it. No I did it. It fits so well with the narrative doesn’t it.

Barrett Yeah it really does, it’s terrific. All right. So then on to my third favorite you’re onto my third favorite scene or the third scene which I responded very emotionally to because I can’t really say it’s my favorite scene. It’s very upsetting. it’s the scene with Ross and Elizabeth at the end of the episode after everyone’s gone to bed or so they think and they’re just having a nice friendly conversation among cousins that changes. And he the old flame comes up again and he starts to feel that desire again for her. So our triangle becomes set up, once again our love triangle. And he disappoints me tremendously when he starts sort of flirting with her just using a really inappropriate intimacy. It happens very gradually in this scene.

CLIP

Ross Today in the fields you looked like a girl of sixteen. Your age when I first knew you.

Elizabeth These past months have changed me – has made me appreciate what I have rather than what I lack.

Ross It’s very wise. After all, there’s no point thinking about what might have been…

Elizabeth But you and I would never have been happy together. Our characters are too different.

Ross True. But cannot love overcome such obstacles? And surely there’s a greater impediment? You’re a lady – you could never have played the scullery maid.

Elizabeth Perhaps I have hidden talents.

Barrett Demelza is in the hallway and she hears this. I mean that’s just gutting! And meanwhile she’s hearing this, like while she’s carrying the secret that they’re she’s pregnant with their child. And her worry that he’s he doesn’t want this child. So this is terrible he is literally about to kiss her, you can tell that he’s about to kiss her. And then she sort of puts an end to it, thankfully. And they both go their separate ways, but the damage has been done. That door has been opened. That flame has been rekindled. And Demelza’s insecurity has been justified. So off we go, off we go.

Robin Poor Demelza’s insecurities you say reawakened in a major way. And why not, actually? And I’m I have to say that Elizabeth behaves extraordinarily correctly in this scene.

Barrett Yup.

Robin And you know in a game of Ross one to ten, he was doing pretty well up to this point.

Barrett He was. That can be a bit arrived on his tombstone, ‘He was doing pretty well up to this point’.

Robin Up to this point! Having had a little bit of a rickety start but nevertheless he’d he’d be pretty good and then wow. I’m not sure what what how to mark him but he certainly took a dive here.

Barrett He did.

Robin It’s a devastating scene and you just think oh oh no please don’t do this don’t do this. You know you do. You’ve come so far. Things are looking up. You’ve made it up with Francis. You’ll get your own back on on George because you’ve got a really good idea. You’ve got an idea for the future. Right. You might be free of George and his machinations. This is old ground. This is old history. Do not worry awaken it. Do not go down that path and sure enough he does because it wouldn’t have happened. I think Dwight’s called away, isn’t he, from the from the dinner party and left alone. Is that is that the scene? Maybe it’s an earlier scene.

Barrett No I think you’re right. I blame Caroline.

Robin Absolutely. Well we have mentioned Caroline yet?  agree it’s a very good choice actually because it’s a it’s a very it’s a tricky emotional choice in fact and a brave choice. Great, very good.

Barrett Thank you. But I know once again I have to ask you Robin, why why why do you think this happened? What was it in him?

Robin Well I mean one has to say the you know the spark is still you know it’s still there I suppose and with opportunity and quite a lot of drink at the end of a meal. But, gosh! It’s too dangerous and emotionally too dangerous and very unfair on Elizabeth and on Demelza, of course. Yeah. But yeah. There you go. He is a flawed character.

Barrett He is we have to accept it. I just, I’m disappointed. You know I’m gonna be like a mother. You know Ross, I’m not mad I’m just disappointed.

Robin Yeah. That wonderful line, I love that. I’m not angry. This is a great line.

Barrett Right. So I guess in that light I’m going to give him I’m going to downgrade him from last week and I’m going to give him a I’m going to give him a three point five.

Robin Well he was pretty. He was doing pretty well as I say. You know he was kind of seven seven and a half. And I think I have to put him down to, well, four..

Barrett Oh wow.

Robin Okay I’ll stick to four anyway. I’ll stick to four. But you no I mean he I mean he should be off the scale really.

Barrett I don’t know I do feel like yes you know he did resist George was sort of teasing him and he did apologize to Demelza for his behavior but this is just this is it’s too much, this has a great weight, it’s terrible.

Robin I’m going to revise down two and a half.

Barrett Oh no he’s really down the mine.

Robin Sorry Ross! Two and a half.

Barrett Well as always it’s been it’s been a delight to talk with you. I appreciate it so much.

Robin Me too Barrett. It’s been lovely. Thank you very much and à la prochaine fois, till the next time!

Barrett Now, as much as we might love to hate George Warleggan, Jack Farthing, the actor who plays him, is a true delight in real life. Let’s listen to a bit of his conversation with my colleague Jace Lacob on our companion podcast, MASTERPIECE Studio.

Jace: What did you make of the character of George Warleggan when you first read the scripts for season 1?

Jack: Um, I mean, he’s pretty appealing. I, I sort, I, I went for him. I fell for his pretty quick. I think he’s, um, he’s a really interesting complicated, um, you know, nuanced character full of troubles and insecurities. And he felt real and, uh, interesting and a sort of some way off from who I think I am in real life (laughing). So, he, were like a challenge and something I wanted to sort of jump on.

Jace: I feel like there’s a world in which, George is the hero of this show somewhere, um …

Jack: He’s definitely, he’s the hero of his show, that’s for sure.

Jace: His own show.

Jack: Yeah, yeah.

Jace: Uh, were you familiar at all with Winston Graham’s Poldark novels or the, the original 1970s adaptation.

Jack: I wasn’t, I wasn’t, um, I think I was of a generation just that didn’t quite- It wasn’t quite giving it. Um, obviously, I, uh, you know, having, having read Debbie Horsifield’s scripts and, and, and had a little look online, um, I dived into the books and I still haven’t really looked at the original series. I’ve had- I’ve looked at tiny clips, but I’ve kind of kept my distance because, you know, in an, in an attempt to make something new, not to get distracted by what came before. But the books I loved very much and, and I’m reading them as we, as we film the series and taking lots of things. You know, they are, they are wonderful treasure troves of information for someone who wants to play one of those characters.

Jace The first time we meet George Warleggan is in the first episode where George congratulates Ross “on the scratch” and he tries to make it seem like these two men are, are similar. Um, Ross is, is right off the bet so cruel to George. Should we feel bad for George initially?

Jack: Well, I’d love to think that somebody out there does, I don’t know. I mean, I think he sometimes behaves in a way that makes him difficult to feel sorry for. But, I feel sorry for him. I think, you know, I think he has a lot of chips on his shoulder that he can’t quite, you know, rid himself off. Uh, and, and yeah, I think absolutely, I think Ross is, you know, for all Ross’s good points, he’s very proud, he’s very stubborn. Uh, and, and, um, he, he, he refuses to accept anything that George offers, even though, you know, many of the offers that George throws are Ross are sort of sensible ones. And, and another man in Ross’s position who didn’t have the feelings that Ross has towards George might jump at them. Um, but yeah, no, I think, I think, you know, throughout series one and into series two, there are moments when, when George does try and reach out to Ross and he can see a world in which they can work together. But at the end of the day, both of them have such, you know, long-seated resentment that it’s going to be very difficult to work together.

Jace: I mean, as much as he, he seems to hate Ross, he, he also seems to want to be him

Jack: Yeah, I think that’s true. I think he does. I mean, you know, there’s lots about Ross that George does absolutely detest. But as I said, you know, he has so much that George wants. Um, so, I think, I think there are definitely aspects and elements of Ross that, that’s George does want to have in him, and sort of, you know, can’t possibly get.

Jace: Can you tease what’s coming up for George and his Poldark rivals?

Jack He’s definitely allowing himself to, to be in Ross’s face much more. Uh, he potentially gets a bit rusher, he, you know, he … There’s less thought, there’s more action, which allows for more, you know, more drama, more, more conflict. Um, but again, as I’ve said I think emotionally, he’s growing as well and you see more of that. So, so yeah, I think he’s just, he’s expanding as a person. It’s like spending more time with someone, you know, you just get to know them more.

Jace: Uh, how does it feel to play the character that people love to hate?

Jack: I mean it’s lovely, it’s lovely. It’s, you know, if, if people love to do anything with George is my privilege. Um, he is, it’s nice because I have a very- There’s a place in, in the, in the stories for him. You know, he is, he represents something quite specific. He is, you know, the show’s biggest antagonist in a way and, and it’s lovely and I think, um … Yeah, you know, I have, I haven’t received any horrible hate mail or (laughs), it’s just been nice. People have been really nice about it. So, uh, I think, you know, we were lucky that, that to an extent the show has captured, you know, something. People, people seem to like it and, and hopefully they will continue to.

Barrett That was Poldark star, Jack Farthing, speaking with MASTERPIECE Studio host Jace Lacob. You can listen to the rest of their conversation, and many more interviews with his Poldark castmates besides, at our website, PBS dot org slash MASTERPIECE Studio, or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Radio Public or wherever else you listen to podcasts.

Next time on Mining Poldark, a new baby at Nampara, and new partnerships galore.

CLIP

Demelza You’re hateful.

Ross You’re infuriating.

Demelza I could crown you!

Ross By all means! Once you’ve delivered our child!

Barrett We’ll meet baby Jeremy, and continue to root for Caroline and Dwight, on the next episode.

And you can join us in our rewatching adventure here on Mining Poldark by watching the entire series on PBS Passport — a new member benefit from your local PBS station. You can watch select MASTERPIECE titles like PoldarkDownton Abbey or Victoria as a part of the Passport experience. To learn more, visit pbs.org/getpassport.

You can also follow along with us on the the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel, available as an add-on service to your Amazon Prime Membership.

Mining Poldark is hosted by me, Barrett Brountas, with co-host Robin Ellis. We’re produced by Nick Andersen, with help from Robyn Bissette. Meredith Wheeler is our field producer. Tina Tobey-Mack is our sound designer. Susanne Simpson is our executive producer. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Rebecca Eaton.

Sponsors for MASTERPIECE on PBS are Viking Cruises, Raymond James and The MASTERPIECE Trust. Poldark is a Mammoth Screen production for BBC, co-produced with MASTERPIECE.

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