My View, Mel Hewitt: The Poldark of the 70s cooks up a treat

Robin Ellis, star of the 1970s series Poldark, with his cookery books
Robin Ellis, star of the 1970s series Poldark, with his cookery books

This time last year many of us were still dealing with withdrawal symptoms after the last episode of Poldark had aired. It was a malady even the delightful Dr Enys couldn’t remedy.

The richly deserved success of the series stirred for me cherished memories of the original version, which aired in 1975.

Robin Ellis played Ross and the late and much loved Angharad Rees was the unforgettable Demelza.

The impact of this heady, rich and romantic brew on my 14-year-old self was immeasurable and I have never forgotten it.

Robin’s cameo appearance in the new series as the Rev Dr Halse was a fitting and nod to the popularity of the first.

So, my curiosity stirred I was keen to find out what had been happening in the last 40 years to the man whom – for many of us over 50 – immortalised the role of one of fiction’s most enigmatic and eternal heroes.

I knew he had been a member of the RSC, an actor whose wide range of work – from Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills to Cleese and Booth’s Fawlty Towers – was part of what many see as the golden age of television.

Well, in 1990 Robin and his wife Meredith moved to France and have created a life there that embraces Robin’s love of cooking, friends who love to visit, and their cats.

Since Robin’s diagnosis of Type two diabetes in 1999 his love of writing – his book The Making of Poldark was published in the 1970s – and food has flourished.

To enjoy what you eat, whether you have diabetes or not can take you in a new positive direction.

His first cookery book Delicious Dishes for Diabetics was published in 2011. Now the cookery workshops hosted by Robin in his local village of Lautrec are popular.

Tranquil time at home is now precious as the calendar is peppered with book tours, filming, most recently for the second series of Poldark, and keeping his followers online up to date with life in Lautrec.

A few weeks ago, inspired to travel to Oxford where he was speaking about his new book Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics, I had the joy of meeting him. With enchanting photographs by Meredith, a lovely lady to talk to, this most accessible of cookery books has something for everyone – even the most reluctant of chefs!

Our chat developed into plans for a mini tour of Yorkshire and on Thursday, June 16, Robin will be here in Doncaster at Waterstones for an evening book signing event, as part of National Diabetes Week.

I will also have the pleasure of interviewing him – something I never imagined settling down in front of the TV on a Sunday evening all those years ago.

Tickets available at Waterstones, or visit robin-ellis.net to find out more.