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A TV Serial that is High Art,
This review is from: The Forsyte Saga: The Complete Series [DVD]  (DVD)
Now available on 7 DVDs, comprising all 26 episodes plus several hours of additional features, this most celebrated and splendid of BBC TV serials was the brainchild of adapter and producer Donald Wilson. Its world-wide success is known to all, but some might not be aware of the following: -
Donald Wilson was denied funds to produce it for ten years. Had there been a delay of a further year the series would have been filmed in colour, as he wished, rather than black and white.
The first of the John Galsworthy novels on which the series is based contains almost no dialogue. BBC script writers supplied the dialogue that helped make the ten siblings in the eldest Forsyte generation so memorable.
Galsworthy intended the Forsytes to represent the rapaciousness, greed and snobbery of the English upper middle class. In this adaptation they are much more endearing.
Being filmed in black and white made it possible to interpolate archival film of Queen Victoria’s funeral procession and of combat scenes from WW1.
Joseph O’Conor who plays the part of Old Jolyon was two years younger than Kenneth More who plays his son.
Eric Porter and Margaret Tyzack, who play Soames Forsyte and his sister Winifred, are in each episode and are required to age almost 50 years.
Although never credited, the music that opens and closes each episode is the first movement, “Halcyon Days”, from the suite “The Three Elizabeths” written in the early 1940s by Eric Coates.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Dec 2008 02:27:30 GMT
Not wishing to be pedantic but according to IMDB Joseph O'Conor is actually four years older than Kenneth More. Judging by the interview in the additional material, Kenneth More was perhaps a youthful looking 53 year old when he made the series so he could get away it.
Posted on 23 Sep 2011 11:40:42 BDT
Green Knight says:
Just for interest, the late and undeniably great Margaret Tyzack's obituary:
FROM THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, 26.06.2011.
Margaret Tyzack, who died on June 25, 2011 aged 79, was an immensely versatile actress, known for her classical stage roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company and for her performances in television series such as The Forsyte Saga, The First Churchills and I, Claudius.
In The First Churchills (1969) she played Queen Anne, winning a Bafta award for best actress; she was equally memorable as Claudius's mother (and Mark Antony's daughter) Antonia Minor in I, Claudius (1976). She also won a Bafta for her performance as the manipulative Cousin Bette in the BBC's 1971 adaptation of Balzac's novel.
But it was the role of Winifred, sister of Soames Forsyte and besotted wife of the caddish Montague Dartie, in the BBC's 26-part adaptation of John Galsworthy's family saga, that made her a household name. The series, of which Margaret Tyzack was always immensely proud, was so popular that some vicars were said to have rescheduled Sunday evening services so that members of their congregation would not have to choose between God and the small screen.
None the less Margaret Tyzack considered herself to be a character actor and was always happiest in the theatre. While she may have lacked the superficial glamour of some of her contemporaries, her name on a cast list was always a guarantee of at least one accomplished, thoughtful and unselfish performance. She won a Olivier Award for playing the uncouth, booze-sodden Martha in a 1981 revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? For her portrayal of the imperiously spiteful Mrs St Maugham, a grand Edwardian relic in the manner of Lady Bracknell, in Michael Grandage's revival of Enid Bagnold's The Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse, she won the Best Actress award in the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards in 2008 and the Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2009.
On Broadway Margaret Tyzack was nominated for a Tony award in 1983 as the Countess of Roussillon in Trevor Nunn's RSC production of All's Well That Ends Well. Her performance as the spinsterish Lotte Schoen, travel agency executive, opposite Maggie Smith's gloriously eccentric stately home tour guide in Peter Shaffer's Lettice and Lovage (in London in 1987 and on Broadway in 1990) won her Tony and Variety Club stage actress of the year awards.
Margaret Tyzack was born in Essex on September 9 1931, the daughter of a sugar factory foreman. She was educated at St Angela's Ursuline convent in Forest Gate and later claimed to have "drifted into acting" by accident after a drama teacher at school spotted her potential. "Really, I'm a refugee from the typing pool," Margaret Tyzack said later. "That would have been the alternative. Or maybe selling something in Harrods." She trained at Rada, where she was in the same class as Joan Collins and won a prize for comedy.
She went into repertory in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, making her first stage appearance as a bystander in Shaw's Pygmalion in 1951. For the next two years she performed as a "character juvenile" in a play a week for 48 weeks a year. She regarded this apprenticeship as the foundation of her later career, though she could remember being so exhausted that in Wuthering Heights she found herself momentarily too tired to speak.
It was in Chesterfield that she developed her soon famous audibility: "If you were warned for inaudibility on Wednesday and still couldn't be heard on Thursday, you'd be sacked on Friday. You had to learn quickly," she recalled. For the rest of her career she preferred working in Victorian or Edwardian theatres - "that wonderful old horseshoe shape"- not only because "you always know you can be heard" but also because "the architects who built those theatres knew something that a lot of modern architects don't know."
Margaret Tyzack made her London debut in 1959 in a Sunday night tryout of Alun Owen's Progress to the Park at the Royal Court, and went on to play Miss Frost, the genteel spinster seduced by Sebastian Dangerfield, in JP Donlevy's The Ginger Man.
A long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company began with a role as Vassilissa in Gorki's Lower Depths (Arts, 1963) and she was rarely out of work in the years that followed.
After her television roles brought Margaret Tyzack to the attention of audiences across the Atlantic in the mid-1970s, she spent three years on stage at Stratford, Ontario, where she played Mrs Alving in Ibsen's Ghosts, Queen Margaret in Richard III and the Countess of Roussillon.
On her return to England in 1979 she was the landlady in Athol Fugard's kitchen sink drama People Are Living There, "swooping from the highest notes of aggressive hysteria to the lowest register of humiliation and despair" according to one critic. In 1985 she won high praise for her performance on Broadway as Rose, Viv's mother, in Tom and Viv, Michael Hastings's play about the troubled marriage between TS Eliot and Vivienne Haigh-Wood.
Margaret Tyzack's partnership with Maggie Smith was revived in 1993 when she played Miss Prism to Smith's Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Aldwych. The two were again reunited three years later when they appeared together in a production of Alan Bennett's Soldiering On.
Throughout her stage career Margaret Tyzack made regular appearances on the big screen. She was Elena in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and a conspirator in his A Clockwork Orange (1971). In 1987 she was Madame Lambert in Stephen Frears's film of Joe Orton's Prick Up Your Ears and in 1997 was Lady Bruton, reactionary pillar of empire, in Marleen Gorris's film of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Other film credits include The Whisperers (1967), Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things (2003), Richard Claus's The Thief Lord (2005) and Woody Allen's Match Point.
Her television credits included Quatermass, Young Indiana Jones, Miss Marple, Our Mutual Friend and Dalziel & Pascoe. Her last stage appearance was as Oenone, Helen Mirren's elderly nurse in Nicholas Hytner's production of Phèdre at the National in 2009. Earlier this year she made a brief appearance as Lydia Simmonds in EastEnders until illness forced her to withdraw.
Margaret Tyzack was a modest, unassuming woman who liked to boast that she could go shopping without being recognised and remained unfazed by the glitz of acting award ceremonies. When she picked up the Critics' Circle best actress award for her role as Mrs St Maugham, she gave her fellow actors a lesson in how to accept by applying what she called "the three Gs: be grateful, gracious - and get off".
Margaret Tyzack was appointed OBE in 1970 and CBE in 2010. She married, in 1958, the mathematician Alan Stephenson, with whom she had a son.
In reply to an earlier post on 19 Feb 2013 20:05:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Feb 2013 20:06:24 GMT
John Austin says:
I really appreciate having this detailed biography of somene whose work I have always admired and who, I find, was born on exactly the same day as I. Thanks again, Green Knight.
Posted on 23 Feb 2014 15:40:37 GMT
are there subtitles on this bxed set/???
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