My View, Mel Hewitt: Meeting Poldark hero didn’t disappoint

Mel Hewitt with Poldark actor Robin Ellis.
Mel Hewitt with Poldark actor Robin Ellis.

I’ve never been a member of a fan club.

I did send ‘fan’ letters when I was a teenager. I can’t remember what I said in them, but I bet I was trying to sound older and more sophisticated rather than gushing and gauche.

Throughout the 1970s and early 80s I wrote many times to Laurence Olivier and sent him a painting every year on his birthday. He always replied – once apologising for his delay in responding because he had been filming Marathon Man in America with Dustin Hoffman.

It was Glenda Jackson though, who in 1971 had just starred in the marvellous Elizabeth R that I was besotted with. She sent me a collection of picture postcards from the BBC series and made my year. I was 10. I wonder if my letter was in crayon.

Another rising star who played a key role – the Earl of Essex – in that drama was Robin Ellis, probably better known to us all as the original Captain Poldark.

Now as anyone who may glance at my column from time to time knows I am passionate about this subject – from the miraculous 12 books Winston Graham wrote to the actors who brought it to life. That’s before we even get started on breath-taking Cornwall where it was set.

So, imagine my delight when last week I had the pleasure of accompanying Robin and his lovely wife Meredith on a two-date book tour of South Yorkshire and – the icing on the cake – interviewing him about his life, work and hugely popular cookery books.

My son acted as informal chauffeur as we travelled from train station to radio Station and one Waterstones branch to another, then back to the Mount Pleasant Hotel for our guests to enjoy a well-earned rest before the final event in Doncaster.

The real added bonus of this experience, apart from discovering that someone you always suspected was one of the good guys really is a pleasure to spend time with, was the joy of meeting those who came along to see him.

Some had travelled great distances by train or car, from the north and south to join us. They are all, it seems, on a journey with someone they, in some instances, first encountered watching Poldark 40 years ago. For some a wish they had made long ago to meet Robin was now coming true.

Following his career from actor to inspired cook and his life in France through his blog, they are people who singly and together radiated a positivity that was infectious.

There was warmth, affection and goodwill in the room in bucket loads – a spontaneous and joyous feeling that only comes from sharing a great experience with like-minded folk.

So, while I’ve never been a member of a fan club I’m now certainly a fan of the people I met last week on a tour to remember.