|Robin Ellis as Ross Poldark in 1975.|
|Chef, author, and actor|
Robin Ellis today.
Café: It’s been 36 years since Poldark was originally broadcast. It still has a strong fan base and attracts new viewers on DVD. What do you think is the key to its enduring popularity?
Robin: It had the advantage of being adapted from a successful series of novels written by Winston Graham while he was living and bringing up a family in Cornwall. The stories grow from the characters' development and feel authentic--and they are good stories that don't seem to date. There's the added plus of Cornwall itself which is very photogenic.
Café: What was your favorite Poldark storyline?
Robin: Good question--it has to be the developing Demelza-Ross-Elizabeth story. I also enjoyed Ross' fights for the underdog against the establishment.
Café: When the eighth Winston Graham Poldark novel, The Stranger from the Sea, was adapted for TV in 1996, were you approached to play Ross again?
Robin: I was--but it didn't work out. Disappointing for us as it would have been fascinating to play the same characters twenty years on.
|Robin poses with Anne Kelleher|
of Acorn Media.
Robin: I see Donald very regularly. Living in France makes it more difficult. We've been in contact with Richard Morant--the first Dr. Enis--recently and I occasionally bump into Angharad (Demelza) when we are in the UK. Christopher Benjamin (Sir Hugh Bodrugan) has family down here in France, so we see him from time to time. Dear Ralph Bates (George Warleggan) died twenty years ago and Jill Townsend (Elizabeth) lives in California. Some of us used to go to the annual lunch of the Poldark Appreciation Society--an unofficial reunion--but they haven't happened since the nineties.
Café: You’ve done a lot of film and television work in addition to Poldark, including Fawlty Towers and Merchant & Ivory’s The Europeans. What are some of your favorite non-Poldark roles?
Robin: I played the Earl of Essex in Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson--a wonderful experience. Colonel Hammond in A King and his Keeper--a dualogue between Charles the First and his jailer set on the Isle of Wight--opposite the great Alan Badel (playing the King). The lead in Bel Ami by Maupassant for the BBC was a challenge--not least because I had to live with a red perm for months! The musical She Loves Me also for the Beeb was also fun with the lovely Gemma Craven. Meredith says the best thing I did was Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier for Granada with Jeremy Brett and Susan Fleetwood. I spent a very happy year at Stratford in between the two series of Poldark.
|Meredith and Robin.|
Robin: We met in New York City--she interviewed me for NBC-TV when WGBH Boston flew English actors over for the 15th anniversary of Masterpiece Theatre.
Café: I’ve read that you bought your home in France on the day you saw it. What attracted you to it?
Robin: It was a "coup de foudre"--(love at first sight)! I just knew that it was where I wanted to be--though we barely knew where it was. Hard to explain that...
Café: Was there a history of diabetes in your family?
Robin: Yes--my mother developed type 1 in her late thirties. So I knew about it and that it was something you have to take seriously. The problem is that with type 2, which I have, there are no obvious symptoms, so it's hard for people to believe that there is a problem.
|The new cookbook.|
Robin: I have cooked for years and collected recipes for years--my mother did the same. We were eating reasonably healthily when I was diagnosed 12 years ago and I realised that with some adjustments to my way of eating I had a good number of recipes already that were suitable for the condition. Then the idea of trying to interest a publisher came up.
Café: This is a question for Meredith: What is your favorite dish that Robin prepares?
Meredith: That's a difficult question! Which is your favorite child??! His salmon fishcakes are light (no potato!) and delicious in summer. In winter for comfort food I love his soups--especially a minestrone that includes pancetta. One of his big company dishes that we have for parties is a spicy fish curry--we've even had that for Christmas lunch! His recipe for mussels (a tomato & garlic sauce) is delicious too-- though it always depends on getting good mussels. One of his best sauces is walnut and garlic that is served with duck. His cookbook is really a collection of the dishes we eat year 'round. I like them all in their right season.
Café: Finally, what’s on the horizon for the Ellis Family—any other books, television appearances, etc.?