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Poldark beauty Demelza dies, 63

ACTRESS Angharad Rees, who was best-known as headstrong Demelza in the popular BBC drama Poldark, has died aged 63.

The character, noted for her flouncy dresses, wild auburn tresses and overripe West Country accent, was a servant girl in the saga of impoverished gentry, smugglers and derelict tin mines in 18th-century Cornwall.

Despite her humble birth she eventually marries Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis), a dashing young army captain who returns from the American Revolution to find his family estate in ruins, his mines for sale and the love of his life, Elizabeth (Jill Townsend) betrothed to his cousin.

The 29-episode drama attracted 15 million in Britain and was shown all over the world.

In Cornwall, the series was so popular that churches had to reschedule their services.

Angharad Rees was born in Cardiff in 1949. She first came to public notice in 1969 as Marie Melmotte in The Way We Live Now, a television adaptation of the Anthony Trollope novel.

Having appeared in Nescafe coffee commercials with her first husband, the Old Etonian actor Christopher Casenove, and their two sons, she gave up full-time acting in 1981 when the couple separated -- the first of two splits -- to spend more time with her children.

In 2005 she founded a jewellery design company. She was commissioned to design necklaces and earrings for the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age, starring Cate Blanchett.

She divorced Cazenove in 1994 and in 2005, she married David McAlpine of the McAlpine construction company family. He survives her with Rhys, the younger son of her first marriage. Her elder son, Linford, was killed in a car crash in 1999, aged 25. Cazenove died in 2010.

hnews@herald.ie