The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon ... See full summary »
The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon Forsyte. Soames is a solicitor, all proper and straight-laced. His love for the beautiful Irene is his only weakness as is his beautiful daughter Fleur. Young Jolyon is the opposite, a free-thinking artist who abandons his wife to live with his children's nanny. Their lives and their children's lives will intersect over 30 years bringing happiness to some and tragedy to others. Written by
[the family are discussing the Boers]
They signed a contract, they must stick to it. I know there's something to be said for their point of view, but a contract is a contract.
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`The Forsyte Saga' was a landmark in the history of television, not just in the UK, but globally. It was apparently the first miniseries to be produced anywhere. It was produced in part to start up the BBC's highbrow BBC2 channel. It was the BBC's most ambitious and expensive series up to that time. It was also the BBC's last major production in black and white, although plenty of color publicity stills were shot for it and BBC2 was intended to inaugurate color television in Britain. The series was originally aired in early 1967 on BBC2, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of author John Galsworthy's birth. It was so popular that it was quickly repeated on the more popular BBC1 channel. The series' popularity was phenomenal. The entire country seemed to rearrange its collective schedule around the show and the streets were empty when it was on. In the following years, the BBC would produce a slew of other period piece miniseries such as `The Six Wives of Henry VIII' and `Elizabeth R.' Britain's commercial network, Independent Television (ITV), got into the act with works like `Upstairs, Downstairs.'
`The Forsyte Saga' was exported and had a major impact abroad. Networks in other countries were soon producing their own period miniseries. `The Forsyte Saga' was the first television series from a Western country to be shown in the Soviet Union.
`The Forsyte Saga' was first shown in the United States in 1969 on the National Educational Television (NET) network and was its first prime time hit. It was repeated on NET's successor, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which was soon importing and airing similar series under the `Masterpiece Theatre' banner. A few years later, the commercial networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) were busy producing their own period miniseries like `Rich Man, Poor Man' and `Once An Eagle.'
`The Forsyte Saga' had a profound influence on the careers of its cast. It greatly boosted the fortunes of Eric Porter, Nyree Dawn Porter, and Margaret Tyzack, made Susan Hampshire the uncrowned queen of BBC2, and gave Michael York and Martin Jarvis their big breaks. The series gave Kenneth More his best role during the long and inexplicable twilight of his career. On the other hand, June Barry, Dalia Penn, and Nicholas Pennell all had prominent parts in the series, but were little seen in subsequent years.
In fact, the same can be said about the series itself. `The Forsyte Saga' hasn't been aired in the Washington, D.C., area in 20 or more years and is currently not available in this country on video or DVD. Its importance in television history is great and undisputed, but it's now spoken about more than seen.
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