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Poldark star Aidan was just right to get shirty with fans who only came for an eyeful

Acting may not be the hardest job in the world, but Turner should be allowed to do his work in peace, says Gail Walker

Published 27/09/2016

Poldark star Aidan Turner
Poldark star Aidan Turner

No, no, don't mind us. Carry on, just pretend we're not here … (Turning to friend and opening bag) Raspberry Ruffle? (Producing mobile phone and beginning to click away furiously) ... Hello? Hello? Is that you? I'll ring back ... the reception here is awful, I'm on the coast. (To companion) Oooh, this is exciting. It's him you know. And her. Mind you, he's not as tall in real life, is he? (To another bystander a few yards away) Isn't Cornwall lovely? ... Just like the show ...

It's no wonder Poldark heartthrob (that's the compulsory term by the way) Aidan Turner "lost it" with fans who were watching him shooting a scene near a 300-foot cliff.

Apparently "losing it" means telling security to stop fans taking photographs of him.

Naturally, the incident has been dismissed as a typical luvvie strop, with all the usual insinuations of stars getting too big for their 18th-century boots and outraged onlookers vowing that they will never watch the show again.

True, being a TV sex symbol may strike many of us as not the worst job in the world and having the odd snap taken may seem just an occupational hazard.

Indeed, most of us would love someone to ask us for our autograph and deliver an instant botox shot to the ego. Plus, there's the money, of course ...

But isn't there a line to be drawn? Not just between the public and the private, but also between work and leisure time?

It may not be working down a coalmine, or the drudgery of office life, but Turner was at work.

Yes - though I can hear the hoots of derision from you out there - acting is work. Serious work. A job that calls on a very specialised set of gifts and perhaps - by its very nature - is often rather draining on the emotional resources.

After all, there was Turner hanging around on set desperately trying to convince himself and us that he IS Ross Poldark, an albeit rather handsome Cornish mine owner with a complicated back story, when a gaggle of fans turn up with cameras and smartphones reminding him that he is, in fact, not Ross Poldark, tin magnate, but Aidan Turner, 21st century actor.

So, eventually, he got fed up with it. Who wouldn't?

Sometimes we forget that while stars are created by fans, that doesn't mean that we somehow own them, can demand 24-hour access and expect them to be smooth-running PR machines always ready with a smile and witty riposte. And done with humility, of course.

Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to interview many from the world of showbiz and entertainment and the truth is that, by and large, they are just like us.

Most are friendly in a simple straightforward way - just as we would be when trying to impress a stranger who is taking notes while he or she speaks.

Some are surprisingly tongue-tied and not the masters of the gab you might expect. Others are insecure ... or desperate. For a few, public recognition and its pressures was a pleasant, but unsought-for perk for something they want to do - be it singing, acting, DJing, presenting on TV, writing books.

And, yes, some can be grumpy, or sullen. But the percentage of celebrity sourpusses is probably lower than in real-life. Being anonymous isn't a guarantee of being likeable.

Essentially, Turner was simply being a professional, wanting to deliver the best possible performance on camera.

He will be working in a world that has a tight filming schedule. The shoot will have begun early and will go on late. And they will do it all again the next day.

Apparently, too, recent filming had been especially precarious on the seaboard, with reports that Turner was knocked over by a wave while rescuing his Demelza - an incident that left a cameraman with concussion.

It must be every actor's dream to be the star of a hugely popular Sunday night TV drama, but sometimes success brings its own dumper truck of pressures trundling along the Cornish coastline and hoving into view. Personally, I've always found the idea of watching a drama being filmed rather bizarre - especially if I was a fan of it. Isn't the whole point of the viewing experience to lose oneself in the make-believe? To be transported back to the 18th century? To a vista where the crew have spent weeks checking that the locations don't include any 21st-century phone masts, or wind turbines.

Watching the alchemy take place only strips it of its magic. What's the point of seeing Ross Poldark standing with a mug of tea having his make-up touched up between takes?

Our contemporary "behind the scenes" culture, all those out-takes and bloomers, "making of" documentaries, the tawdry reality behind the shiny facade of stardom, the drugs and loneliness, the shocking deaths in hotel rooms - all that grim reality sticking its oar in to our harmless world of make-believe - is entirely typical of our ever-growing cynicism.

But, surely, if our worldly-wise attitudes mean that we lose the capacity to be besotted by the beautiful and the talented, to be impressed by charisma, to be mesmerised by magic, to be (as it were) struck by stars, then we will really have lost something which has kept the beleaguered human spirit buoyant literally for centuries.

So, let's keep staring at them on TV to see if they are real ... not gawping through a fence to reassure ourselves that they are.

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