Sighs and swooning out there? Yes, I know. I've seen polls spring up all over the Net and wasn't surprised at all.  Ross or Jamie? Aidan or Sam? Poldark or Outlander? Cornwall or Scotland?
Starz Outlander and BBC One Poldark are the two hit period drama series of the moment. Blending adventure and romance, historical fiction and stunning locations, talent and beauty they have got legions of passionate fans all over the world. These fans are quite vocal and convey their enthusiasm in their tweets, facebook pages and their blogs, they read or re-read the books on which the series are based, they discuss them in groups, they create fan-fiction and gadgets, they make friends and have fun gathering together. They love the stories and all the characters in them, they are fond of the locations and costumes, they are intrigued by the twists and turns, watch and re-watch their favourite scenes, learn by heart their favourite lines but ... let's be honest ... the main reason of their passionate interest is their fondness for the two gorgeous, fascinating, dashing heroes: James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser and Captain Ross Poldark.

The heroes

Outlander male lead, Jamie Fraser, is a 18th century Scottish warrior created by Diana Gabaldon in 1991.  Ross Poldark is instead a captain of the English Dragoons,  living in the same century as his Scottish rival,  in the series of novel written by Winston Graham in the 40s and 50s. Both are reckless, brave, complicated and, especially ,  terrificly handsome and definitely  romantic. 

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser
The actors

Scot-to-the-bone, lovely giant,  Sam Heughan in his kilt and ginger curls, his Highland accent and gentle smile,  is just perfect to embody the fictional hero that has conquered over 25 millions readers all over the world in the last 25 years and has been defined "the king of men" for his endless qualities.

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark

Irish dark beauty, Aidan Turner, has obtained the lead role in Poldark, after his recent adventures in New Zealand with The Hobbit family as dwarf  Kili, Thorin Oakenshield's  nephew. We can guess that to accept such an iconic role mustn't have been an easy choice:  he had to accept to compete and be compared  to  Robin Ellis,  who had been Ross Poldark in the sensationally  popular BBC adaptation of the books back in the 70s. 

To choose or not to choose ... that is the challenge

Sam being Sam
But, I wonder,  is it more a Turner vs Heughan or more a Poldark vs Jamie duel? I mean, are fans attracted to the intriguing fictional heroes and consequently love the handsome human beings embodying them or is the allure more due to the good looks and charms of the two actors who have brought the literary heroes to life? Third hypothesis, my favourite one :

Aren't Sam Heughan and Aidan Turner extremely fit to their roles - that is perfectly cast - and also talented as well as dedicated to their task of  bringing such beloved characters to life, so consequently, it is easy to transfer the love for the characters to the actors?

Aidan Turner  - cap from this video
I can't really answer this one myself.  What do you think? Do we love Sam Heughan because of Jamie and Aidan Turner because of Ross? Or do we love Jamie because of Sam Heughan and Ross because of Aidan Turner?

Anyhow, what I can't really do is choosing one over the other. We always have to make choices , hence renounces or sacrifices, in our lives, real lives I mean. Can we at least be free to virtually love more than one man in our shallow, careless, dreamy alternate fictional world?

I'm really fond of both series, I love their 18th century historical settings, I'm hooked by Cornwall 's and Scotland's   incredibly beautiful natural environments,  both look stunning on screen, I'm really satisfied as both adaptations do justice to books I've read and liked. So why should one choose one or the other hero to love? Can't we simply love them both deeply for their similarities, if not for their differences?

What do they share? 

They are 18th century gentlemen born to be lord (Ross) or laird (Jamie) on their lands and take care of their tenants and family and friends. Their are born leaders, brave, charismatic,  tenacious, hardworking, pragmatic and practical-minded, passionate, selfless and resourceful.

Ross and Jamie are not perfect,  though. But let's put it this way: the flaws we recognize in them are as fascinating as their virtues. Both can be incredibly stubborn,  dangerously reckless and profoundly proud.

However, they are loyal and prone to help those in need, they are sensual and seductive lovers as well as devoted husbands. They are understanding and sensitive, they have a fragile side, a gentleness they don't hide. That sensitivity mixed to their overflowing manliness is their secret weapon to win  us over, isn't it? That is what make them irresistible to the majority of their admirers.

Don't tell me... There's someone out there figuring out 6-pack abs or other anatomic details ?!? Naah! I wasn't thinking of that AT ALL! How could I?

Their stories

Young Jamie, only 22 at the beginning of Outlander epic story,  has just returned to Scotland from France and has had an unfortunate series of troubles with the English redcoats patrolling his coutnries in the 1740s. He lives on the run with a prize on his head when he meets outlander Claire Beauchamp, mysteriously landed in Scotland not just from England but from the 20th century.
Jamie very soon comes to marry Claire due to an arrangement to protect her against sadistic villain, Captain Jack Randall. Making her a Scot will prevent the wicked Captain from claiming any right on her. The beginning of Jamie and Claire's  love story is everything but romantic.  They know very little of each other, they don't love each other, they are good friends (and attracted to one another, you say?)

Ross Poldark, 27, is  an English officer back to his own native country after fighting in America against the colonial rebels. It is 1783 when he comes back to Cornwall to find his father dead,  his lands and properties neglected, his patrimony dilapidated and the woman he loves engaged to be married to his cousin.
He needs help in the house and hires Demelza Carne,  who is just a very poor 13-year-old-girl,  after helping her in a street row. Demelza grows up at Nampara working hard and growing fonder and fonder of her saviour. He is torn and broken, still in pain for his unrequited, betrayed love for Elizabeth, now his cousin's wife.
Ross and Demelza's love story will blossom in time  but only after a rushed, unromantic marriage between a gentleman and his maid servant,  whose reasons are not clear to anyone included the protagonists themselves,  apparently. Those reasons do not include love at the beginning, not on Ross's side, at least.

So neither of Jamie nor Ross marries for love (for what we know), both have to cope with a troubled past and face the risks of an uncertain future.

What makes them different?

Mmmm ... lets's see ...

Do you know what people say of us? 
Ross Poldark is dark -haired  and has dark eyes, he is English.  Jamie is fair ( ginger ) haired, blue-eyed  and Scottish.

Though young Jamie is 22 and Ross a bit older at the beginning of their respective stories, the Scottish hero is actually older than Captain Poldark. They are from different generations.  I was just thinking they might have met . They might have been on the same battlefields in certain moments of their lives,  Jamie in his mid-fifties while Ross in his mid-twenties. I'm not writing a mash-up, don't worry... only reflecting on certain historical events present in both sagas. But I don't want to give away spoilers for those who want to go on reading Gabaldon's books so ... let's move on.

Jamie can leave you speechless in his kilted attire. Ross may charm you in his typically  English 18th century elegance , you know,  breeches, cravat and alike.

Jamie has a horribly scarred back and many other healed wounds all over his body. Ross has "only" a scarred cheek and a little limp in one of his legs as souvenirs of his years in America.

Jamie has been tortured and ... more, so he has psychological as well as physical wounds as a result.

When did you learn to kiss like that?
Ross is moody and often brooding, while Jamie is ironic,  witty and always ready for a good joke , despite all the horrible things he has to face.

Jamie can control his passions and reactions and keeps a clear mind even under pressure and in extreme situations. That is not always easy to Ross Poldark.

Ross is not very talkative while Jamie is a verra good story-teller.

Ross is a gentleman and would never use violence on man or woman, if not in self or other's defence, Jamie has been taught differently and sees corporal punishment as a fair form of justice (till Claire helps him partially  change his vision)

Jamie is still a  virgin on his wedding night, convinced that "it is better to marry than burn" , Ross Poldark is an expert lover often compared to his father for his reputation as a womanizer. (But doesn't he marry Demelza so as not to compromise her reputation? )

Ross marries Demelza who is much younger than him. Jamie is younger than Claire.

Conclusions or ... it is better to stop now

Well, I may go on thinking and writing about these two gentlemen and their stories endlessly, but you know... I have chores and a demanding real life. It's been nice to escape into their adventurous, romantic tales in your company. Thanks for reading!

And don't forget that Outlander comes back on Starz with episode 9 on 4th April for US viewers and it is available on Amazon Prime to UK viewers . Check it out! You can catch up with the previous 8 episodes on both channels (HERE US - HERE UK)

Poldark , instead,  is every Sunday night on BBC One in the UK and on ABC Australia, and it will premiere on PBS Masterpiece in June.


Anonymous said...

I love both of them. How can I choose? These are the most amazing heroes ever! I'm going to finish the second Poldark novel "Demelza" tonight . Beware! That's a very sad story.

Maria Grazia said...

I love them both, too. I'm reading Outlander books 5 (Fiery Cross) and I'm going to start Demelza (book 2 in the Poldark series) before Sunday night. I'd like to read a few chapters before ep. 5. The next 4 episodes are based on book 2 so, I want to get ready! Next Sunday will be full of great emotions for me: Outlander ep.9 + Poldark ep. 5. I really can't wait! :-) Thank for your comment. MG

Lynn said...

I've read all of the Outlander books multiple times, and I am on Book 10 of the Poldark series. Also I have seen the Outlander series several times, but unfortunately I have to wait until June to see Poldark. Hands down Jamie has my heart, but I have a huge place for Ross in there too.

Anonymous said...

"They love the stories and all the characters in them, they are fond of the locations and costumes, they are intrigued by the twists and turns, watch and re-watch their favourite scenes, learn by heart their favourite lines". I was under the impression that you were describing yourself here, dear MG :P

I cannot honestly answer your question, since I'm only a mild fan of Outlander-the-TV-series, and have never watched any of the Poldark ones.

As for the heroes, you ask "What do you think? Do we love Sam Heughan because of Jamie and Aidan Turner because of Ross? Or do we love Jamie because of Sam Heughan and Ross because of Aidan Turner?"
I humbly provide you yet another option: to me, the literary hero comes first. So, if I like what I read about him, I watch the film/tv series and then I decide if I like/loathe the actor. But it's never the other way round.

Have a lovely Easter holiday,
xx K/V

Maria Grazia said...

Hello K/V! Thanks for finding the time to read and even comment, despite your very busy life :-) Where to start? You know me quite well to guess what I might have been thinking while writing and yes, I might have indulged in the activities you quoted in your comment from time to time ;-) Though, when you say that one comes to love literary heroes while reading and, probably, if the actors deserve that, transfer the appreciation to them , and that it is NEVER the other way round, I must remind you that it is almost NEVER. As you know, I simply couldn't like Jamie very much and rather disliked Claire after reading Outlander. Why that happened even if I devoured the pages of that first book, I couldn't and can't tell. I find the TV series improved the understanding of the characters and made them more realistic and relatable. The show is brilliantly cast (I know you disagree, but I also know I'm not alone in my conviction). I went back to the books and I'm reading the rest of the saga now.
As for Poldark, I'm reading the books while watching the series. The books are not as good as I expected but I like the TV series pretty much. This story and its characters have a very special place among my memories from the past. I loved the series so much when it was on back in the 70s!
The new adaptation is different from the old one, much more faithful to the books, but, in my opinion, not as accurately crafted as Outlander in many ways. However, I think this is not the place for in - depth analysis of the differences. I'd need a blog post so I'll stop here. Also because we are meeting up soon. We'll have watched Outlander ep. 9 then! (which I am very eagerly and you only mildly waiting for :P ) Enjoy the festivities and some well - deserved relax. Till very soon, my friend :-)

Maria Grazia said...

I see we share much, Lynn! Though I am only still striving through the pages of "The Fiery Cross" (book 5, Outlander) and only just started book 2 of the Poldark saga. It's such an exceptional choice for me who have always hated long sagas!
But you see, the power of love! <3
I wish you a very happy Easter weekend full of exciting Outlandish emotions (since you can't watch Poldark yet)

Anonymous said...

Oh Ross by a long shot. First off Aidan is a much better actor along with being much better looking. Jamie most of the time comes off a whiny baby. In the books and in the show.

Diana McGrew said...

obviously anonymous has never seen the show..but Sam Heughan embodies Jamie Fraser on screen and off..handsome, strong, humorous, thoughtful..a man for all seasons, there has been no one like him for a very long tim

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm . . . having read the Outlander books long before I'd ever heard of Poldark, I have to vote for Sam. I love Sam because he's doing a great job bringing JAMMF to "life", and I loved Jamie first.

May need to read the Poldark series; I'm enjoying the TV series!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what books and tv series you have been reading, Anonymous from July 6th, but they aren't the same ones I have been watching and reading! Whiny baby? That had me in hysterics, it is so wide of the mark.

They are both amazing characters - yes I've read both sets of books, seen both series so far (and the older Poldark) and can honestly say tht whilst Ross Poldark is a cool dude, there is no one in life or fiction quite like James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser...