Period drama series telling the lives and loves of the Forsyte family between the years 1879 and 1926. A massive success at the time and a clear forerunner of the saga type of shows (Upstairs Downstairs, The Pallisers etc). The Forsyte Saga was also the first serial sold by the BBC to the Soviet Union.
ITV (Granada) broadcast a new 10 part adaption from April 2002 which starred Ioan Gruffudd, Rupert Graves and Damien Lewis.
It was the last major TV serial made in black and white and it was also one of the BBC’s most successful worldwide triumphs.
Kenneth More was Jolyon Forsyte who left his pregnant wife for a lover, while Eric Porter was lawyer Soames who wed Irene (Nyree Dawn Porter).Their on-screen chemistry was the secret of its success. Susan Hampshire was Fleur, Soames’s impetuous daughter who had an affair with Jon (Martin Jarvis), the son of Irene, who was then wed to Jolyon.
Rape and infidelity were its main storylines. Soames’s rape of Irene shocked the 18m viewers who tuned in, as well as the cast. Eric Porter said: “I tugged at Nyree Dawn Porter’s bodice and to our horror there was blood all over the place. I’d gashed my hand on a brooch she was wearing.” Nyree Dawn added: “With all the blood I wondered what he’d done to me.”
Eric Porter, who played Soames Forsyte, remained a familiar face on TV right up until his death from cancer in 1995.
The London-born actor played many famous characters including Cyrano de Bergerac (1968), Tolstoy (1970), Jack the Ripper (1971), Fagan in Oliver Twist (1985) and Professor Moriarty in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1984-85).
He was also a lover of Shakespeare, having starred with Charlton Heston in the big screen film Antony And Cleopatra (1973), and in two BBC productions as Macbeth (1970) and as Polonius in Hamlet (1980), with Derek Jacobi in the lead role.
Susan Hampshire, who won a Best Actress Emmy Award in 1970 for her portrayal of the venomous Fleur Forsyte, appeared as the leading lady in countless TV, film and theatre productions.
The veteran actress’s other famous TV roles include Lady Glencora Palliser in the Victorian drama series The Pallisers (1977), and she earned two more Emmy awards for Sarah Churchill in The First Churchills (1969) and Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair (1971).
Her notable big screen films include the Greek mythology inspired Malpertuis (1971) with co-star Orson Welles, and Living Free (1972), the sequel to Born Free, in which she played lion lover Joy Adamson.
New Zealand born Nyree Dawn Porter, who played Soames’s first wife, Irene, went on to star in several horror films and the crime-fighting TV series The Protectors (1972-73) with Robert Vaughn.
Long time film star Kenneth More, who played Jolyon Forsyte, went on to star in various British films including the romantic fairytale The Slipper And The Rose (1976), and the Second World War classics Oh! What A Lovely War (1969) and The Battle Of Britain (1969).
More died from parkinson’s disease in 1982 at the age of 67.
UK / BBC Two / 26×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 7 January – 1 July 1967
Creator and Producer: Donald Wilson / Novels: John Galsworthy
KENNETH MORE as Joylon ‘Jo’ Forsyte
ERIC PORTER as Soames Forsyte
NYREE DAWN PORTER as Irene Forsyte
MARGARET TYZACK as Winifred Forsyte
FAY COMPTON as Ann Forsyte
TERENCE ALEXANDER as Montague Dartie
SUSAN HAMPSHIRE as Fleur Forsyte
URSULA HOWELLS as Frances Forsyte
MARTIN JARVIS as Joylon ‘Jon’ Forsyte
MICHAEL YORK as Joylon ‘Jolly’ Forsyte
JOSEPH O’CONOR as Old Joylon