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Publisher's Summary

An epic BBC radio adaptation of John Galsworthy's complete Forsyte Chronicles, narrated by Dirk Bogarde and with an all-star cast.

First broadcast in 1990, this monumental adaptation of John Galsworthy's Nobel Prize-winning novel series was a radio event. It was the most expensive drama serial ever produced, featured one of the biggest, most star-studded casts and dominated the Radio 4 schedules for more than five months, attracting more than a million listeners each week. Comprising all nine books in Galsworthy's Forsyte Chronicles, it spans 50 years - from 1886 to 1936 - and tells the irresistible story of an upper-class dynasty torn apart by a terrible feud.

Wealthy, privileged and successful, the Forsytes seem to have it all. But the disastrous marriage of Irene and Soames Forsyte, and the dire consequences of one night and the next foggy day, are to split the family for generations. As the sins of the father are visited upon the children, the younger Forsytes - from Soames' daughter Fleur to her cousin Dinny Cherrell - find themselves doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past as they experience both the pain and the promise of love. Beset by emotional disasters, domestic dramas and society scandals, can the various members of this sprawling family ever find lasting happiness?

This sweeping tale of passion, power and money stars a host of outstanding actors, including Dirk Bogarde, Alan Howard, Michael Hordern, Diana Quick, Michael Williams, Maurice Denham, Amanda Redman and Sophie Thompson.

Cast and credits

Written by John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Chronicles:

Galsworthy - Dirk Bogarde

Old Jolyon - Michael Hordern

Soames Forsyte - Alan Howard

Irene - Diana Quick

Young Jolyon - Michael Williams

James - Maurice Denham

Aunt Ann - Fabia Drake

Aunt Hester - Rachel Kempson

Aunt Juley - Renee Asherson

June - Angela Pleasence

Philip Bosinney - Michael Cochrane

Swithin - David March

Roger/Justice Bentham/Sir Luke Sharman/Adrian Cherrell - John Moffatt

George/Monsieur Profond - Christopher Good

Nicholas - John Gabriel

Emily - Maxine Audley

Winifred - Fiona Walker

Montague Dartie/Elderson - Donald Gee

Francie - Susan Sheridan

Mrs Macander/Mme Lamotte/Smither/American woman - Jo Kendall

Young Chankery - Charles Simpson

Waterbuck, QC/Timothy/Mr Settlewhite/Hilary Cherrell - David King

Annette - Shelley Thompson

Holly - Elizabeth Mansfield

Val - Dale Rapley

Jolly - Paul Downing

Dreamer/Francis/Francis Wilmot/Hubert Cherrell - Simon Treves

Polteed/Gradman/Cuthbert Mothergil/Editor/Foskisson/Blore - Brian Miller

Doctor/Lord Charles Ferrar/Lionel Cherrell/Neil Wintney/Mr Instone - James Greene

Fleur - Amanda Redman

Other cast: Gary Cady, Gary Bond, Tara Dominick, Vincent Brimble, Nicholas Gilbrook, Sue Broomfield, Paul Daneman, Philip Sully, Stephen Garlick, John Bull, Danny Schiller, Belinda Lang, Jack May, Ben Onwukwe, David Bannerman, Ian Lindsay, Stuart McGuigan, Michael Kilgarriff, Catherine Furshpan, Christopher Scott, Garard Green, Mary Allen, Sophie Thompson, Dorothy Tutin, Peter Marinker, Moir Leslie, Danielle Allan, Paul Rattigan, Jack Klaff, Lois Burgess, Miranda Foster, Peter Howell, Aubrey Woods, Jody McDonald, James Warwick, David Yelland, Matthew Solon, Elizabeth Kelly, William Wortley, Henry Power, Leonard Fenton, Jenny Howe and Nigel Carrington

Dramatised by David Spenser, Shirley Gee and Elspeth Sandys

Directed by Janet Whitaker, Anthony Cornish and Sue Wilson

Series producer: Janet Whitaker

Pianist: Mary Nash

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 29th September 1990-2nd March 1991

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Hallmarked with elegance and craftsmanship." (The Evening Standard)

What listeners say about The Forsyte Saga

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  • Highlight
  • 04-07-22

Excellent - Listened Several Times

I adore this production and Dirk’s narration gives the play that little bit more. I adore the original black and white filmed Television version too (my aunt late actress Ellen Pollock played the part of the mother-in-law of Soames second wife filmed at the restaurant) This production is well acted by a huge set of famous names bringing this tomb to life. Soames really does get obsessed with Irene, some of the things he says because of his belief he owns his first wife is quite creepy, makes one cringe but in an entertaining way.

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  • Jen
  • 06-21-22


Sound quality is general good, a few places sounds tinny. Loved the first half though got bored after that, Dinny’s voice was impossibly high and annoying and her story was the most boring of the 3.