WHEN Eleanor Tomlinson signed up to star in a brooding drama set in 18th-century Cornwall, she had no idea the impact it would have on her life.

Rewind to 2015 and the then-21-year-old unknown would play heroine Demelza in the TV adaptation of Winston Graham’s novels, Poldark, the servant-turned-wife of Aidan Turner’s Captain Ross Poldark.

It was a career-igniting role – and duet – that wooed the nation for five seasons, winning Baftas and culminating with a series finale this August that drew in an average of 4.1 million-plus viewers. Quite the achievement.

Now aged 27, and having stepped out of her alter-ego’s shadow (other than still sporting the dyed red hair she adopted for the part), Tomlinson is keen to forge her own path. One she hopes is free from typecasting.

Eleanor said: “I’m trying my best to force it to change. I’m trying to get as many different roles as I can under my belt, different characters, different periods – I don’t want to be pigeonholed.

“But I’m so flattered to be known as Demelza. I love the fact I have that behind me, and I can walk into a room and people may have seen it.

“It’s opened so many doors in terms of what’s available now, things I’ll be seen for that I wouldn’t have been seen for before.”

Her latest outing is in the BBC’s highly anticipated The War Of The Worlds adaptation, a three-part TV reworking written by Doctor Who’s Peter Harness and directed by the notable Craig Viveiros.

Northwich Guardian:

Eleanor joined Rafe Spall, Robert Carlyle and Rupert Graves in Great Budworth to recreate HG Wells’ iconic sci-fi story about the battle to save Earth from a Martian invasion.

Film crews descended on the village to capture many of the scenes in April last year.

Remarkably the BBC’s version is the first revision (there’s seven in total – from Jeff Wayne’s musical version through to Stephen Spielberg’s Hollywood blockbuster) that’s true to its intended Edwardian era.

Eleanor added: “It does seem crazy that it’s never been set in its time. Ours feels particularly current, in terms of taking the writing and adapting it to a modern audience.

“You now have a female leading it, whereas she’s not particularly present in the book.

“There’s so much they can do now, in terms of CGI, that it’s almost crazy not to set it in the time in which it was written, it’s that perfect mix of old meets futuristic.”

Tomlinson plays Amy, a fierce 20-something who faces the prejudices of society as she attempts to start a life with George (Spall), all the while swerving the ongoing chaos outside.

The ‘refreshing’ decision to put Amy front and centre of the narrative was a huge appeal.

Eleanor said: “She’s a really strong female character that’s breaking the mould of her time.

“She’s strong, she’s independent, she’s got her own thoughts and feelings and she strives for that.

“She has this scientific brain and she wants to study, but she’s a single woman living with a married man, at a time in history when women weren’t allowed to study.

“To think that women, at one point, weren’t allowed to read books is horrifying. Thank God we are where we are now, but we are because of these women that fought against the system.”

But it’s still relative today, she adds.

Eleanor said: “In different countries we’re still seeing this control over women.

“But in terms of this industry, we’re seeing much more strong female roles coming out and that’s incredibly important.

“It’s much more interesting for us, as actresses, when we get a script and go, ‘Oh great, I’ve got something to do, I don’t have to wait for someone to rescue me’.

“Nowadays, even in jobs that I’ve done, you’d struggle to make the women so helpless. Unless they’re historical – that’s different.

“You need women to be able to have a personality other than to just be the damsel in distress, it’s important.”

Next, Eleanor will tackle two further sci-fi series.

She added: “One is Intergalactic, in which I’m playing a drug mule and addict in space – so it’s really different.

“It’s amazing because doing something like Poldark and it being successful gives you the confidence to try something else.

“It’s really nice to push myself and break down those barriers – even within myself.

“This is something I couldn’t have done five years ago, because I just wouldn’t have had the bravery.”

The other one is an HBO series of Joss Whedon’s called The Nevers, “which is amazing fun. And then I’ve got a film called Love. Wedding. Repeat, which is a comedy.

“I was really nervous about doing that, actually, because we have Joel Fry, Aisling Bea and Tim Key, so these incredibly funny people, and then me!”

Notoriously private, does she worry about fame as a by-product of her success?

She said: “No, I live such a boring, quiet life. I want to be known for my acting, I don’t want to be known for my personal life. I don’t want people to follow me around, I just want to be known for the jobs that I do and hopefully for doing them well.”

The War Of The Worlds premieres on BBC One on Sunday