BBC Forsyte Saga (again)

I’ve been having a bit of a Forsyte-fest since I was given the original BBC set from 1967 for Mothering Sunday. I’ve watched all 26 episodes and although it seemed a bit dated at first, it wasn’t long before I forgot that it was in black and white and I got engrossed in the whole thing.

As I mentioned before, some of the love scenes in the earlier episodes are an absolute scream, but they did become more natural looking as time went on. Maybe the actors had started to do a bit more than acting with each other by that time.

I still think that the casting was better than the recent ITV version. Nyree Dawn Porter was so much better as Irene than Gina McKee was, although Nyree didn’t get the distinctive walk of Irene either. You would think it would be an easy thing for an actress to master – a sexy bum waggling walk, which Galsworthy described her as having.

For the most part, the ageing make-up was well done too. Although for some reason the character of June’s face looked dirtier as she got older.

Susan Hampshire will always be Fleur to me, I think she was just perfect for the part and her husband was played by the actor Nicholas Pennell, who I think did a good job. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t seen him in anything else, but apparently he was in The Saint, which I never watched. At some point he moved to Canada and acted in a Shakespearian company there. Maybe the parts just didn’t come up for him in Britain. Sadly he died when he was only 56.

So all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my present. It was an absolute bargain, bought from The Guardian website for £19.99.

The Forsyte Saga was hugely popular when it was first broadcast in Britain. Pubs closed early (in England – Scottish pubs were shut on Sundays way back then; only hotels could sell drink and then only to “bona fide travellers”) and churches rescheduled their evening services.

It was subsequently released in Australia and America where it was just as popular and it became the first serial sold by the BBC to the Soviet Union. More than 160 million viewers around the world watched the serial.