An Australian TV Week article from 4 June 1977.
The actor who’s been called “the sexist man on British Television” is unknown to most Australians – so far. But that situation will change, now that the O-10 Network has begun showing the series that made him a household name in England.
The actor is Robin Ellis, 35 years old and a husky 185 cm (6ft I in.) tall. The series is POLDARK, a romantic adventure set in Cornwall in the year 1783 – an era of dueling, smugglers, famine and revolution. It’s already been shown on TEN10, and starts on ATV0 on Tuesday, May 31, at 8.30. other states will follow.
Ellis’s performance as brooding, aggressive hero, Ross Poldark, is one of the main reasons why the series became the third most popular show in Britain. Ross Poldark is believed killed fighting for the British army against George Washington’s forces in the American colony’s way of independence of 1776.
When he returns unexpectedly to his family estate, Nampara, in Cornwall, he finds that the house is in disrepair and the two mines which supply the family income, have allowed to fall idle. His father died while he was in New World, and left debts which could mean the estate falling into the hands of the wealthy banking family, the Warleggans, who Ross dislikes.
Not only that, but Elizabeth, the girl he was going to marry, has become engaged to his cousin.
The series, based on novels by Winston Graham (author of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller movie, Marnie), follows Ross Poldark’s attempts to refloat the family fortunes and find happiness in spite of the rebuff by Elizabeth.
Robin Ellis got the “sexist man” tag from women interviewers in Britain, and he is still one of TV’s most eligible bachelors. No woman has been able to tie him down … yet.
The former male model lived the trendy bachelor life in the ‘60s, and Poldark proved that women see him as the idealized embodiment of consumed, horse – riding romance.
And the fan mail, which includes numerous marriage proposals, proves it.
But the bachelor image is still reasonable bright. His London mews flat near High Street, Kensington, is the sort of mess of books, records and empty win bottles that cries out for a woman’s touch and as he sits,, booted feet outstretched, rolling a cigarette, he is still prepared to discuss women in that abstract way the unmarried often use.
In 1971 he described his “ideal girl” as “tall, blonde, lissome with fine forehead, super eyes and legs.” And six years later nothing very much has changed.
“I still like women with long legs,” he says, “so my ideal girl is still pretty much the same, except now it doesn’t matter what colour hair she has.”
Which might suggest that the actress he was not prepared to name but with whom he is currently spending much of his time might well turn out to be a brunette or redhead.
The fact that there is a reasonable steady relationship going on is something that both delights and surprises him.
“People muddle me up with Ross Poldark, compared with whom I am fairly cack – handed and lacking in definition. In reality I have a girl friend at the moment who cuts me right down to size. If I try coming on with the romantic image bit … no way. Absolutely no way. And that suites me fine. That is what I think I want from a lady. Someone who is going to take no nonsense and who will give me an argument even a mood to cope with.
“If I did adopt the attitude of successful, well – dressed, handsome, lean, 30 – year – old man I would be setting myself up to be knocked right down by this lady.”
So here is this 35 – year – old man, good on a horse and not half bad with a squash racket, pouring another glass of wine and explaining what he feels about marriage and settling down.
“Well, I just live from day to day. I don’t think; ‘Oh yes, this is the one I am going to be with when I am 78’. But I don’t think about that at all because that is fatal. But if it so happens that three years’ time I am still with this lady and we think well, this is silly, let’s get married, then we will.
“But I really am very happy to live from day to day. And having a lady is wonderful. Seeing things together is much better than seeing things on your own. Just doing ordinary things like shopping or having a meal or seeing an art exhibition or going to the cinema or the theatre is so much more fun with somebody else and I have finally realized this since I met this lady. For the first time I have appreciated being with somebody else.”
Yet at the moment, Robin Ellis doesn’t see himself getting married. There are moments, however, when he meets someone with a teenage son and thinks; “By the time I have a 29 year – old son I’m going to be an old man.” He says he finds that quite frightening. But, obviously, not quite frightening enough.
From Our London Bureau.