Season 5 of Poldark is currently streaming on DStv Now every Tuesday at 20:00 on ITV Choice (DStv 123). Jack Farthing, who plays Ross Poldark’s troubled and complex adversary, George Warleggan, describes mixed emotions about the drama coming to an end.
“I am a bit of a one for nostalgia and I have been languishing in the fact this is the final series – it is odd but also exciting for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it has been a successful show and we are all so happy and proud of what we have achieved. But also because we have an amazing series this year, it is solely based on Debbie Horsfield’s writing and it has a different feel to the other series … As much as it has been strange and sad it has also felt like we’ve all wanted to really nail it.”
After the traumatic end of the previous last season, how do we find George at the start of Season 5?
“George has been totally changed forever by what happened at the end of the last series.”
“Losing Elizabeth (Heida Reed) … was extremely traumatic for George. He is apparently back to normal, at his desk hard at work but crucially refusing to talk about anything – he doesn’t want to hear her name, pictures of her are being taken down from the house, he is getting on with his life. However, gradually you become aware that he is not anywhere near as calm as he appears, he is suffering inwardly and apocalyptically. George has been totally changed forever by what happened at the end of the last series.”
How does George fair emotionally in the wake of losing everything he ever dreamed of in one fell swoop?
“At the beginning he is telling everyone he is fine which is a common response to a traumatic event, to brush it all under the carpet. But as soon as he is triggered and brought back to it, it is catastrophic for him and is a challenge like nothing he has ever faced so he is more wounded and less stable than he has ever been.
“Elizabeth stays with George, it is like she is dead but her presence is as potent for him as ever. Even when she is unmentionable, she is still his moral compass and the reason for certain actions he takes this series. You see moments where he is looking at her picture and he is trying to see things through her eyes, he can still hear her and she guides him and whereas he may have railed against that in the past it is like music to him now.”
Why was this final season of Poldark the biggest acting challenge?
“There is a particular moment when we go back into the bedroom where Elizabeth died and Dwight makes George remember it and that was really heavy. We filmed so much in that bedroom set that when we walk into that room my heart just sinks.”
“The most challenging work I’ve done in the past five years is all in this series. George is grieving in a particular and dramatic way. There are climaxes to his sadness and some of them were pretty challenging to film. There are moments where Dwight (Luke Norris) takes him on as a patient and in a modern and intelligent way goes through talking therapy with him. Others are trying to lock him up or drown him but Dwight realises that what he needs to do is talk to George, get inside it psychologically and make George confront it rather than allow him to continue to evade it.
“There is a particular moment when we go back into the bedroom where Elizabeth died and Dwight makes George remember it and that was really heavy. We filmed so much in that bedroom set that when we walk into that room my heart just sinks. I did a lot of running around in my nighty this series, which, in the chilly weather, is also a challenge. Standing on the edge of a cliff in a nighty is not all that much fun.”
Fancy more period drama?
A great deal of preparation went into Farthing’s complex role this series
“I did a lot of research to try and make the work I was doing feel real and authentic. I spoke with some psychologists about grief and the aftermath and the range of reactions they had seen. I found this wonderful woman called Dr Jacqueline Hayes and we talked about complicated grief versus psychotic reactions, as George isn’t suffering from a mental illness, he hasn’t got a previous history with that and he is not psychotic … Around 60% of people who are grieving for a lost loved one have some form of contact with them, be that hearing, talking, smelling or touching, it is normal – people think they are going mad but they are just grieving, so it was important for me to hold on to that.”
Farthing reveals his special keepsake from the Poldark set
“I have a George Warleggan costume already hanging in my wardrobe at home. A jacket, britches and waistcoat that were all made for me and I spent the whole series in them and I just love them.”
“I will miss playing George, I have been so lucky, it has been a lot to find and play with and you take that for granted when you do that. Now it is coming to an end I realise how lucky I have been, playing this role and the quality of the people who make this show is incredible … it has been a total dream.
“I have a George Warleggan costume already hanging in my wardrobe at home. A jacket, britches and waistcoat that were all made for me and I spent the whole series in them and I just love them. It is pure nostalgia, although maybe one day I’ll wear it for a fancy-dress party!”