TV Series Old and New

Aiden Turner, from Falmouth's The Packet.
Aiden Turner, from Falmouth’s The Packet.

I was one of those who watched the first episode of the new adaptation of ‘Poldark’ on the BBC last Sunday with bated breath. Ready to reserve judgement and not wallow too much in the nostalgia of the original series. While I can think of more painful things to do than to watch Aidan Turner smouldering prettily against a backdrop of Cornish places of outstanding natural beauty, I do wonder why it is necessary to reinvent the wheel each time instead of just doing reruns of old series?

Original series of Poldark. From
Original series of Poldark. From

Why can we not see ‘Poldark’, ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ (another one that was remade in recent years) or ‘The Onedin Line’ as they were? I didn’t grow up in England, so I didn’t see these series when they were first aired, but caught them later on in the 1980s. I would come back from school, have a snack and rush through my homework so that I could settle down to watch one of these series (or an old black and white film – I know most of the Hollywood productions of the 1930s and 1940s) in what seemed to be an endless series of reruns on Austrian TV.

Cover of the Radio Times.

My point is not that I should have been playing outdoors (I did my share of that, too), nor that my TV viewing was not monitored by my parents, but that these were quality films. They fostered my love of storytelling, drama, setting and beautiful costumes. I used to painstakingly draw some of the most glamorous dresses and dream about wearing them some day (although in real life I was a tomboy). I used to discuss character development and plot with my friends. They were the soap operas of our days, but there was a much neater story arc and not quite so much ‘shocked face’ acting.

From IMGKids.
From IMGKids.

At the risk of sounding like an old codger, daytime TV nowadays seems to be all about inane game shows, Come Dine With Me or depressing and bitchy reality TV. I know these things are cheap solutions to 24 hour programming, but surely reruns of old series are cheap too? My children are bored of CBeebies or CBBC, but there doesn’t seem to be much else on offer to capture their imagination. They equate ‘black and white’ with antiquated and boring, but I’m not sure that everyone needs fast, furious new adaptations to appreciate the classics. Could we at least have the choice?

P.S. And yes, that scar on Ross Poldark’s face in the new version? It does look like mascara running… The make-up of make-up artists is letting them down on this occasion…


16 thoughts on “TV Series Old and New”

  1. I LOVED Upstairs Downstairs ….my claim to fame is that someone I worked with until recently was the partner ( in real life) of the horrible valet who had a gay relationship with Mr James ! Groundbreaking for the time ! It was fabulous !

    1. It really was groundbreaking for the time. Of course, the new version of Upstairs Downstairs suffered from coming out at the same time as Downton Abbey…

  2. Reality TV is a creeping malaise. It seems that there’s hardly an hour in the day when Come Dine with Me isn’t playing somewhere on the planet. And you’re right, there must be a rich seam of drama hidden away in the archives. I’ve never understood why our domestic series are rarely repeated but Friends and Frasier are ubiquitous. Let’s hope that Wolf Hall won’t be buried away never to see the light of day again.

  3. Oh, I know just what you mean, Marina Sofia! There are so many wonderful old series and films that are being re-made – and don’t need to be. An old saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ These weren’t ‘broke.’

  4. My problem with the new Poldark is that I can’t concentrate on anything but the beauty of Aiden Turner. Though I do love the Cornish scenery! I didn’t watch the original, so happily I have nothing with which to compare it, but I was pleased to see that they haven’t ‘Hollywood-ised’ it too much.

  5. Didn’t watch poldark new one seemed to edge towards musketers style of tv more imagine over substance I did like recent upstairs downstairs .Amanda and I really enjoy call the midwife which to me has best of what was in those classic bbc series

    1. Nothing wrong with four nice lads in leather fighting with swords and muskets… but yes, I agree, the latest incarnation of Musketeers is all swash and no buckle. I thought the new Upstairs Downstairs was actually better than Downton Abbey (I know, sacrilege, but I stopped watching the latter after the first series or so).

  6. Although I adored Robin Ellis, I did very much enjoy Aidan Turner this weekend.

    Looking forward to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in May even more though…

  7. People do tend to complain about repeats, but personally I love watching the old shows. And when I was a young’un (yes, TV had been invented!) all the classic Hollywood fims were shown on mainstream TV – now they almost never are. And (because I’m an old codger) I never find modern remakes nearly as good as the originals…

    1. French TV is not the world’s most thrilling, but at least they have repeats of the Bruno Cremer Maigret series (not that old, maybe the 1990s, but my definitve Maigret, I think).

  8. I’ve no real memory of all these series from before. When it gets raised in conversation at home I state firmly that I was just out having a great time ( probably pretending to be one of those four men with swords and muskets on occasion!) so I missed these. Personally Aiden Turner didn’t do it for me – thought it was a bit stilted and wooden – though coincidentally when I look in the mirror I think I see someone remarkably like him looking back at me! ( if only!)

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