"At last Britain has a series to rival 'Rich Man, Poor Man' ( a glossy American mini series starring Nick Nolte and based on Irwin Shaw's soapy novel )", wrote one enthusiastic admirer of this show in the letters pages of 'The Sun' back in 1977: "It is 'The Foundation'. Lynette Davies' acting is superb.". It has been a long time since I saw it, so apologies in advance for this less-than detailed review.
Created by Richard Gregson, 'The Foundation' was a drama series set in the cut-throat world of high finance and big business, with executives flitting from boardroom to bedroom and back again seemingly in the wink of an eye. It made by A.T.V., previously responsible for the not-dissimilar 'The Power Game'. There was a major innovation - instead of Patrick Wymark's 'Sir John Wilder' the main character was a woman. 'Davinia Prince' ( Davies ) was the devoted wife of 'Don' ( Keith Barron ), a highly successful tycoon. In the first episode, he dies of a heart attack, leaving Davinia everything. Rather than sell off the company, she opts to run it herself even though she has no real business experience. Her decision brings her into conflict with the other board directors, not to mention new admirers keen to get their hands on her wealth by courting and then marrying her.
As 'Davinia', Welsh actress Davies was indeed impressive. The word that seems to sum her up best is 'classy'. Her character was ruthless when she needed to be, yet oddly sympathetic. It is surprising she did not go on to other major television roles afterwards. Actors of the calibre of Bernard Lee, John Barron and Fulton Mackay made up the supporting cast. The young Patsy Kensit played Davina's daughter. Jack Parnell penned the bombastic signature tune.
The show was slightly ahead of its time in beating 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' to the airwaves by a few years. The B.B.C. were so scared by it they tried to make their own version - the short-lived 'Tycoon' starring Sean Connery's former wife Diane Cilento. 'Foundation' was both critically acclaimed and popular with viewers, making the decision to end it after only two seasons inexplicable. An attempt was later made to do an American version, with Elisabeth Montgomery ( from 'Bewitched' ) as 'Davinia'. It went no further than the pilot stage.
Nothing more was heard of Davies until 1993 when she made headlines for tragic reasons - she died at the incredibly young age of 45, having been found drowned. A sad end for someone once widely tipped as a future star.
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