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The Mayor of Casterbridge 

In a drunken and disheartened state, Michael Henchard sells his wife at a fair. When he becomes sober again he realises what he has done, and though unable to find his wife and child, ... See full summary »

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Series cast summary:
Alan Bates ...  Michael Henchard 7 episodes, 1978
Janet Maw Janet Maw ...  Elizabeth-Jane 7 episodes, 1978
Jack Galloway Jack Galloway ...  Donald Farfrae 7 episodes, 1978
Anna Massey ...  Lucetta Farfrae / ... 4 episodes, 1978
Ronald Lacey ...  Jopp 4 episodes, 1978
Peter Bourke Peter Bourke ...  Abel Whittle 4 episodes, 1978
Jeffrey Holland Jeffrey Holland ...  Carter 4 episodes, 1978
Alan Rowe Alan Rowe ...  Mr. Joyce 4 episodes, 1978
Gillian Brown Gillian Brown ...  Lucetta's Maid 4 episodes, 1978
Clifford Parrish Clifford Parrish ...  Longways 4 episodes, 1978
Avis Bunnage Avis Bunnage ...  Mrs. Goodenough 3 episodes, 1978
Richard Owens ...  Newson 3 episodes, 1978
Douglas Milvain Douglas Milvain ...  Coney 3 episodes, 1978


In a drunken and disheartened state, Michael Henchard sells his wife at a fair. When he becomes sober again he realises what he has done, and though unable to find his wife and child, changes his ways. He becomes the Mayor of the town. Nearly twenty years later his past comes back to haunt him. Written by <burkeji@forfas.ie>

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Release Date:

3 September 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Il sindaco di Casterbridge See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This was first announced for Joseph Losey in 1968 with Robert Shaw starring. See more »


Version of The Claim (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly good adaptation by the ever-surprising Dennis Potter
23 November 2017 | by paxveritasSee all my reviews

Please pardon the substandard Americanism, but "who'd a thunk" that the insanely imaginative bete noire of British television writing, Dennis Potter, could have written such a disciplined, book-faithful, beautifully-paced script as this. He pays full and respectful homage to the great Thomas Hardy's masterpiece.

No repetition of the accolades of prior reviewers is needed here. They're spot on.

What I would like to see, if I had control of casting of both the 1978 and 2003 versions, is a redistribution of the cast. For this exercise, I need a time warp.

Understanding, for example, that Polly Walker, who plays Lucetta in 2003, was only 12 years old in 1978, I would have preferred her (as she was in 2003) to Anna Massey as Lucetta in 1978. Walker has some beauty and magnetism and is believable as a man- hungry "fallen woman." Massey was undeniably an excellent actress, but as a vamp she simply can't cut it. To think Farfrae or Henchard could be attracted to her sensually is laughable. The suspension of disbelief here is too much for me to make. (By the way, her miscasting as Laura in the Pallisers is equally disturbing, as there is NO spark between her and Donal McCann in that series.)

Then I'd grab Juliet Aubrey out of the 2003 version and cast her in place of Anne Stallybrass - Aubrey portrays Susan more sensitively, more skilfully.

Janet Maw is superb as Elizabeth-Jane, so I'd leave her there, and not import Jodhi May into 1978 - May is too stilted as E-J. Both Purefoy and Galloway are very good as Farfrae, but Goodman is so very good in the minor role of Jopp that I would pull him out of 2003 to replace Lacey,

And last, I leave it to you as to Hinds or Bates as Henchard. They both turn in the most remarkable performances of their careers in Mayor of C. And that's why it's such a pleasure to watch both versions. despite the dreadful editing of Hardy in 2003.

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