Poldark's topless Aidan Turner gets thumbs-up from critics as new season starts

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Critics breathed a sigh of relief after Poldark's second series kicked off in fine form, with a cliffhanger - and a topless Aidan Turner.

The BBC drama picked up where it left off, with Ross Poldark (Turner) arrested for "wrecking, inciting a riot, murder", and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) left bereft on a cliff-top, with the threat of the death penalty hanging over her husband.

Fans and critics were also waiting with bated breath to see whether Ross would bare his chest again after the topless scything scene of series one. It did not take long.

Aidan Turner in Poldark (BBC Pictures)
Aidan Turner in Poldark (BBC Pictures)

Sam Wollaston wrote in the Guardian: "There it is, not scything but mining this time, and it's hot down there, in that mineshaft, hammering away, all senses of hot."

"Turner fanatics can at least console themselves with a glimpse of the fabled Aidan torso when he went to his mine for 'an honest day's work' and took his shirt off for a bit of 'hot hewing' down below," wrote Ben Dowell in the Radio Times.

He noted that the camera "lingered on his bare upper body as he wielded a pickaxe".

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Ian Hyland joked in The Mirror: "There was so much flesh that when Poldark's lawyer said he'd need to see evidence of his client's 'assets' I'm surprised Poldark didn't just whip off his smock and say 'There you go, mate'."

Critics agreed that the show's fast-paced return was very welcome.

Sam wrote: "Weekends, with the nights beginning to close in, are better places with Poldark back."

"Poldark's return is pacey, breathless and matches anything that has came before," Cameron K McEwan said in Digital Spy, forgiving Debbie Horsfield for a script that was "a little too on the nose at times".

Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson in Poldark
Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson in Poldark (BBC)

The Telegraph's Gerard O'Donovan agreed, writing: "There were no signs here of nerves or second album syndrome. Picking up from exactly where we left off ... Poldark came out all guns blazing."

The episode's end left critics shocked, as Ross's cousin, Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller), shot himself in an apparent suicide - although viewers will have to wait until episode two to find out if he is gone for good.

Cameron wrote: "Those final moments are heartbreaking and we can only hope, somehow, that his apparent suicide is a ruse. Poldark needs Francis's heart."