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Notorious Woman (BBC2 Drama, Rosemary Harris)

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Seven part BBC Two period drama serial Notorious Woman told of the life of 19th century female novelist George Sand.

The Aberdeen Evening Express of Saturday 2 November 1974 previewed the series: Rosemary Harris stars as George Sand in Notorious Woman, a seven-part drama series by Harry VW Junkin, which begins tomorrow (BBC 2, 10.15) with “Misalliance.” In 1820, Aurore Dupin, later known George Sand, returns from an English convent to her grandmother at the family house in Nohant, France. Grandmother has plans for her to grow into a proper lady and wear beautiful clothes, but Aurore believes that there is more to life than merely presenting a pretty face. .However, grandmother dies and Aurore inherits the estate. Her own mother, Sophie, tries to control her life, but Aurbre shows that she is mistress of all that to her. At the age of 18 she marries Casimir Dudevant, but soon realises that she has made a mistake. When she begins writing and meets Jules Sardeau, a young aspiring author Aurore decides that she must leave her husband and move to Paris to be free. Cathleen Nesbitt plays Aurore’s grandmother, Joyce Radman plays Sophie. Lewis Fiander plays Casimir Dudevant and Leon Vitali plays Jules Sardeau. The play should certainly lack no colour as Dupin was one the most successful French novelists of the 19th Century and as such led a very gay life.

The Sunday People of 24 November 1974 featured a short piece on co-star George Chakiris: The American who starred as the Puerto Rican gang leader in the West Side Story film, was specially imported to play Chopin in BBC2’s weird Notorious Woman epic. George, who’s other star film roles have been limited, swotted up on the composer, did intensive piano practice and took voice lessons to blot out his American accent.

The Daily Mirror, Saturday 7 December 1974 featured a short preview of the production towards the end of it’s run: Notorious Woman (BBC2, 9.45, tomorrow) seems to have been made with an eye on the American TV market it’s glossy and expensive. Even so, this version of the story of George Sand is still a very theatrical affair. In tomorrow’s episode, George is in conflict with her daughter Solange. After many quarrels, Solange finally leaves. But George’s own romance with Chopin is also running into foul weather.

The Liverpool Echo of Monday 9 December 1974 featured a picture of Sinead Cusack and a very short mention of her role in the serial: It is very hard to believe of lovely Irish born actress Sinead Cusack. In her latest acting assignment, the BBC2 series Notorious Woman, she grows from 25 to 50 in only seven episodes.

Cast: Rosemary Harris (Aurore – George Sand), Joyce Redman (Sophie Dupin De Francueil), Lewis Fiander (Casimir Dudevant), Michael Gough (Henri De Latouche), Peter Woodthorpe (Honoré De Balzac), Léon Vitali (Jules Sandeau), Cathleen Nesbitt (Madame Dupin De Francueil), Sinéad Cusack (Marie Dorval), Alan Howard (Prosper Mérimée), Jonathan Newth (Hippolyte Chatiron), Brian Blessed, Georgina Hale, Graham Faulkner, Tom Chadbon, George Chakiris, Kathleen Byron, Saeed Jaffrey

Writer: Harry W. Junkin / Music: Anthony Isaac / Production Design: Don Homfray / Producer: Pieter Rogers / Director: Waris Hussein

UK / BBC Two / 7×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 3 November – 15 December 1974