British Historical Drama 'Poldark' Accused of "Rape Myth" Scenes

PBS
Aidan Turner in 'Poldark'.

The BBC series' latest episode featured a controversial scene that sparked cries of sexual assault depiction.

BBC drama series Poldark sparked controversy on Sunday night when titular character, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), was reportedly shown forcing himself on his former fiancee Elizabeth (Heida Reed).

Complaints were raised that the scene amounted to rape, eliciting a response from U.K. broadcasting regulatory company Ofcom to investigate the claims, according to BBC Radio Cornwall

The series, which won the BAFTA Audience Award earlier this year, is based on a popular series of novels by English author Winston Graham, who died in 2003. 

Graham's son, Andrew, told BBC Radio that the rape claims "misconstrue my father's text." He described the scene as "indeed consistent with the potential for rape. But what then actually happens is not described but is left entirely to one's imagination."

He emphasized the context in which the scene appeared, noting "Elizabeth's immediate reactions and later mixed emotions that what finally happened was consensual sex born of long-term love and longing. It was, as Aidan Turner has put it, 'unfinished business emotionally.'"

The scene in question, as described by the BBC and other outlets, sees Poldark bursting into Elizabeth's room to confront her over her plans to marry another man. She struggles against his advances, saying "no" repeatedly, then succumbs as she is thrown onto her bed and pinned down.

As reported by The GuardianFay Maxted, chief executive of the Survivors Trust, an organization for sexual assault charities in the U.K., said, “This is some sort of rape fantasy where the man is overcome by his lusty passions and the woman resists but she really wants him after all. It’s a complete rape myth."

The makers of Poldark denied the claims to the paper.

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