Poldark series 3 episode 6 review: Toe jobs and toads made for an eventful, fun episode

Eleanor Tomlinson and Harry Richardson as Demelza Poldark and Drake Carne: BBC
Eleanor Tomlinson and Harry Richardson as Demelza Poldark and Drake Carne: BBC

Toe sucking, in recent history, hasn’t ended well for anyone. Fergie and her “financial advisor” John Bryan were caught in the act poolside in St Tropez in 1992, doing nothing for the Duchess of York’s reputation.

In the same year, David Mellor, then a government minister in the Major cabinet, embarked on an affair with actress Antonia de Sancha. With the help of now jailed PR “guru” Max Clifford, she sold her story to The Sun including details of the minister having a thing for her digits. It led to one of my all-time favourite headlines: “Toe Job to No Job”. The fact that de Sancha (now a mostly out-of-work actress) later admitted that some of the details, including the foot action, may have been fabricated is by-the-by, podophilia is not a good omen.

This episode did nothing to dispel that. We were treated to Reverend Osborne Whitworth (Christian Brassington) sucking on a Truro prostitute’s big toe as he killed time waiting for Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) to agree to marry him and in doing so, propel George Warleggan into the Cornish aristocracy. With his eyes shut, plump cheeks flushed, brow damp with sweat, body convulsing in pleasure and making porcine noises, only ten minutes after the watershed – Love Island, eat your heart out –the reverend’s tryst was enough to put anyone off their Sunday dinner.

In the 1970s, the BBC axed the scene of Christopher Biggins doing the same thing. All I can say is, the Baby Boomers don’t know how lucky they were and hat tip to Brassington for the most memorable thirty seconds of telly I’ve seen for a while.

Christian Brassington is the Reverend Osborne Whitworth, a part played by Christopher Biggins in the 1970s BBC series (BBC)
Christian Brassington is the Reverend Osborne Whitworth, a part played by Christopher Biggins in the 1970s BBC series (BBC)

With no French exploits to keep things sérieux, there was plenty of humour elsewhere in this episode and it was all the better for it. Toads, George’s bête noire, played a major role. George (Jack Farthing) was vexed that someone was bringing the loathed amphibians into the ponds at Trenwith. We found out that his hatred stemmed from when arch enemy Ross (Aidan Turner) used to put them down his breeches at school. The culprit this time, however, was Drippy Drake (Harry Richardson), bringing them to the grounds to make Geoffrey Charles (Harry Marcus) and Morwenna laugh and try and woo the latter. Whatever floats your boat, Wenna. When George found out he was entertainingly apoplectic.

I was happy to see Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) having a larger role this week, her presence is always scene stealing. I’m also pretty excited about her upcoming one hundredth birthday. This week she asked to be measured for a new frock but can the costume department get the poor woman a new cap? Hers is turning greyer by the week.

Poldark writers also reminded us that they can do serious rather well. Doctor Enys’ PTSD was sensitively handled. Of course, in those days, or indeed when Winston Graham first wrote the books, they wouldn’t have called it that, but that’s what it was.

“What’s happened to my husband?” Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) implored as Dwight cowered and whimpered when every movement took him back to the horrors of prison. She was no different to many a partner of a war veteran since.

“Accustomed to the cries of wounded men, the quiet appalls me…every breath I take makes me feel guilt that I am here and others are not…all I wish is to hide away until the world no longer seems strange to me.” Luke Norris was movingly believable as the traumatised physician.

I was amused to see that it was Ross who was giving Dwight relationship advice though. Remember Ross Poldark is a man who dealt with his own marital problems by galloping off to bed his childhood sweetheart.

In topless action watch – a weekly slot now – Ross was teasing us with some energetic tree-axing when he gave a field to the starving locals. It was more a three-shirt-buttons scenario. And so it was up to Drippy Drake to take up the mantle. He and Morwenna were getting amorous in the dunes and he whipped his top off to show her his toad-smuggling-induced injuries. Unfortunately, man-giant Tom Harry (Turlough Convery) witnessed the scene and went straight back to George to try and orchestrate Drake’s downfall.

Tom Harry (Turlough Convery)
Tom Harry (Turlough Convery)

Wee Geoffrey Charles inadvertently had a hand in stitching up his pal Drake. The boy (actor Harry Marcus will go far, I’m sure) gave his friend a valuable bible as a goodbye present before being packed off to Harrow by George (Boo! Hiss!). The bible was used as proof of theft and Dranke was banged up in Truro jail, destined for the noose.

Drake was freed at the eleventh hour but the Nampara lot possibly brought out the licky pie a bit prematurely– it gets its name from leeks, Google tells me. In a bargain to free Drake, Morwenna had agreed to marry the reverend.

And so, the man-of-God put on his best weskit for the quickest wedding ever and Morwenna was a vision in violet walking up the aisle, face as downcast as if it were she who was facing capital punishment. Not hanging, love, just a night of headboard-shaking toe sucking. I’m not sure which is worse.