When it comes to Poldark Season 3, is there room to speculate about the potential for off-book changes? BBC and PBS Masterpiece series, Poldark, is based on Wilson Graham’s popular book series. The novels were first adapted for the screen in the 1970s. Since books are oftentimes the template for TV series, it is pretty customary to treat the two as separate, creative entities.
So how close is Poldark planning to stick to its source material? It is not entirely known. Or at least a Google search does not readily supply the answer. Here is a quick rundown of Poldark‘s track record so far and what it could mean for the paternity of Elizabeth’s baby in Poldark Season 3.
Warning: The following article contains spoilers from the Poldark book series, and therefore possible spoilers, for Poldark Season 3.
Poldark and changes from the books.
Seldom do screen adaptations actually relay real-life history accurately, so it has practically become a routine for book-to-screen adaptations to alter its fictional source material. In its first two seasons, Poldark has been no exception. In preparation for the premiere of Season 2, Culturess did their own rundown of the key differences between the Poldark books and Poldark Season 1.
Among the ones cited are that in the Poldark novels, Demelza is 12-years-old (other sources say 13-years-old) when Ross rescues her and hires her to be his kitchen maid. The reason behind the decision to advance Demelza’s age is rather obvious.
On BBC/PBS’ Poldark, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) is an adult when Ross (Aidan Turner) first encounters her, though he notes there is a significant age difference between them. He commonly refers to Demelza as a “child” or “girl” in Poldark Season 1. In real-life, there is a nine-year age difference between Poldark actors, Aidan Turner (Ross) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza).
This script change has had no apparent effect on the storytelling between the Poldark books, and the Poldark TV series. It is a change in context, only.
Poldark and the Elizabeth/Ross encounter in Season 2.
In October 2016, Poldark writer Debbie Horsfield spoke to Radio Times, to clarify reports on how Poldark had interpreted a highly controversial sexual encounter between Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross from the Poldark novels, in Poldark Season 2. While the 1970s’ adaptation of the Poldark novels had depicted the scene as a rape, the recent version of Poldark aimed to portray it as consensual. Horsfield cited the ambiguity of the scene in Winston Graham’s novel to Radio Times, to support the decision.
“It’s up to the individual reader to decide what the dots mean in that moment. There is a degree of ambiguity if you just read that chapter, though it is clear, subsequently, that when Elizabeth remembers the incident, she thinks of Ross’s ‘caresses’ and talks about not wanting to go from one man’s caresses to another’s.”
In August 2016, The Sun reported the following statement from the producers of Poldark in reference to the controversial Season 2 scene.
“Winston Graham’s version of events is open to interpretation. Ours is not. Many fans haven’t read the books and don’t appreciate spoilers, so we invite all viewers to watch the episode when it comes out and then make up their own mind”
With the novels already being opened up to interpretation, is it possible the new Poldark will continue the trend with the father of Elizabeth’s baby in Poldark Season 3?
Poldark Season 3: Who is the father of Elizabeth’s baby?
This brings us to the big question. Will Poldark carry through with the paternity of Elizabeth’s baby as presented in the Poldark books? It is a shared consensus among Poldark readers that Ross is the father of Elizabeth’s baby in the novels. In the 1790s, a DNA test was not available to settle the matter, so that leaves timelines, birth dates, and the baby’s personality, and physical features to go on.
In that way, it can be argued there is room for interpretation concerning the paternity of Elizabeth’s baby on Poldark. Stranger things have happened when it comes to adaptations. Without something as concrete as a DNA test, is the paternity of Elizabeth’s baby, still open to speculation in Poldark Season 3?
In the Poldark Season 2 finale, Elizabeth is shown reacting shocked to Ross’ Aunt Agatha pointing out that Elizabeth’s baby could come “sooner.” It is a scene that potentially plays with great ambiguity.
How Elizabeth had apparently not realized the possibility that her baby’s paternity was in question, before Agatha mentioned anything is confusing. Before she married George, or right afterwards, she should have already figured out that something was amiss. Why does it take another month, or more, and a remark from Aunt Agatha, to make Elizabeth wonder?
There is also a substantial lack of curiosity expressed by Ross, and Demelza when Elizabeth and George make the announcement of their impending arrival at the end of Poldark Season 2. No one seems to think there is any question surrounding the baby’s paternity. Whether intentional or not, the Poldark Season 2 finale seems to leave the door open for a paternity mystery in Poldark Season 3.
Why Poldark Season 3 will probably make Elizabeth’s baby a Poldark.
For fans of Ross, Demelza, and their marriage, the idea of Ross having a child with Elizabeth could present huge complications for their reconciliation at the end of Poldark Season 2. As any viewer knows, the most dramatic solution to a quandary, such as this, is usually what happens.
The drama already surrounding Ross and Demelza struggling to deal with the fallout of his affair with Elizabeth in Poldark Season 3, would be significantly heightened if Ross had a child with her. Albeit if the baby is Ross’; Elizabeth would more than likely work to avoid revealing that information to her new husband, and therefore, Ross. Or would she?
In conclusion: Poldark Season 3 theories, speculation, and spoilers.
For non-readers enjoying a screen adaptation through a separate prism is an easy thing to do. While being a reader of George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Fire and Ice might help explain some things on the TV series, it is safe to say that Game of Thrones has become an entirely different entity.
Whether Poldark will have as different a relationship to its source material as Game of Thrones does remains to be seen. How helpful book-related Poldark spoilers actually are becomes the question.
As is how close the latest Poldark will stay to how the 1970’s version adapted events from the Poldark novels. When talking to Radio Times about living up to the 1970’s version of Poldark, current Poldark writer Debbie Horsfield stated, “We’ve always been very clear that we’re doing a new adaptation…It’s not a remake.”
So far, Poldark has only altered the context surrounding major events in the Poldark book series, and not so much the outcome. The alteration of the scene between Ross and Elizabeth does not appear to have changed the results of that event on Poldark.
Thus far, the catalyst for the adaptive changes has apparently been for the sake of modernizing Poldark for the sensibilities of current audiences. Based on that motive, there is no reason to alter what the Poldark book series says about the paternity of Elizabeth’s baby. Will that remain the case? Find out when Poldark Season 3 premieres on BBC and PBS Masterpiece, sometime in 2017.
[Featured Image by Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for MASTERPIECE]