POLDARK on BBC1 is a guilty pleasure, part soap and part costume drama, although sometimes the hero doesn’t wear much in the way of a costume.
Many of our newspapers went weak at the knees when they used this BBC promo-shot of Aidan Turner emerging from the waters in his James Bond moment.
I’ve watched that first new episode now, and two thoughts arise. One is that in context this was ironic and sad rather than swaggering, as the dripping – or possibly drippy – Ross is still recovering from Demelza’s romp in the dunes with the handsome fellow who has the headaches.
And the second thought is more involved.
You see, those pictures on many of the front pages were then followed by mock-angst from columnists: why is it all right for women to ogle men but not for men to ogle women, that sort of hand-wringing exercise.
My own thoughts on that salty emergence were as follows. Seeing Aidan Turner/Ross Poldark rise from the sea reminded me of myself getting out of the shower of a morning. Or it did if Ross was 61, bald, a little on the short side and in need of losing half a stone or so.
Other than that, the resemblance was remarkable.
If women sometimes feel they are measured unkindly by screen representations, men can pipe up with a moan when Aidan gets his shirt off.
Except that, traditionally at least, men are not assessed on their looks and their bodies to the same extent. Maybe Turner and Daniel Craig are just redressing the balance.
Incidentally, Craig said in an interview in 2008 that his defining sex symbol moment in Casino Royale came about by accident. He swam into an inconveniently placed sand bank and had to walk back to the shore. And if you believe that, it’s entirely your own business.
Unusually perhaps, I am the Poldark fan in this house, as my wife is not enamoured. I like the silliness, the high drama and the lash of melodrama.
There are two key villains: slimy George Warleggan, Poldark’s old adversary, and the toe-sucking vicar, Ossie Whitworth. Of the two, the man of God is the more repellent. He is married to Morwenna, who loves another, as you would also.
On Sunday – spoiler alert – Morwenna’s true love nearly dangled at the end of a rope.
Poldark came to the rescue, armed with a frown. His facial furrows often do plot duty. Ross Poldark is a few feet short of being a laugh, unlike Aidan Turner, who was quite merry on the Graham Norton Show the other week.
Let’s move on to another handsome male, Don Draper in the US drama Man Men. I loved this series, then lost it thanks to a spot of Sky poaching. Our new TV box has Netflix and the other day I spotted the drama on there.
It’s been good to catch up. We are on series six. The drama’s best days may be gone, perhaps, but it is still compelling. Jon Hamm is handsome in a bristled, rugged manner, but he doesn’t mind putting his looks to self-harming effect.
He is almost unrecognisable in that great film Baby Driver. In Mad Men, he is recognisable as a man on the slow slide. Draper is a great character, although he doesn’t bring me out in man envy goosebumps. I’d love the hair, but not much else.
So far, Draper has cheated on his lovely second wife by shagging his friend’s wife and vomited whisky into a bin at a funeral, while blaming a stomach bug.
He has the haunted air of a man who signed a deal with the devil and has only just got around to reading the small print. When he takes his white shirt and tie off for all that extracurricular sex, he’s in surprisingly good shape for a man powered by cigarettes and whisky fumes.