1 9 6 7 (UK)
10 x 60 minute episodes
Adapted from three novels by Dr Phyllis Bentley, Inheritance related the saga of the Yorkshire mill-owning family, the Oldroyds of Annotsfield (a fictitious town based on Huddersfield) from 1812 to 1965.
The 10-part Friday-night drama series was one of the most ambitious television serials ever attempted and covered 153 trouble-torn years from the Luddite riots of 1812 to the death of Sir Winston Churchill.
The main actors – John Thaw, James Bolam and Michael Goodliffe – played several roles, with Thaw playing the menfolk of the Oldroyd family up to the age of 35, then Goodliffe taking over to play the older men of the same family. Bolam played the menfolk of the Bamforth family, who violently opposed the Oldroyds. Between them, the three actors played 15 parts.
The first episode of Inheritance told the story of desperate opposition to the earliest forms of automation. “Cropping” the cloth had always been done by hand, by workers using clumsy hand shears. Then old Will Oldroyd, the mill owner, heard of a blacksmith who claimed to have invented a cropping machine which would cut down time and speed up production. More important to the workers, fewer croppers would be needed.
The men protested, but Will Oldroyd was determined and ordered his first machines. The workers decided to fight – kill if need be – for their only livelihood. The war was on with no holds barred.
A plot to wreck the machines as they were delivered failed so a second ambush was planned, but this time targeting Will Oldroyd himself.
Joe Bamforth (Bolam) was one of Oldroyd’s workers, a young man in the mill office whose sympathy for the croppers led him to join the Luddites. He was torn between loyalty to his employers and his sister, Mary (Thelma Whiteley) who wanted to keep him out of trouble, and loyalty to his workmates at the mill and the Luddite oath he swore.
The series was shot on location in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on the bitterly cold, windswept Pennines around the Calder Valley mills and down narrow streets of the millworkers stone cottages.
The studios recreated a woollen mill complete with working machinery and furnaces, staged bomb-torn battle scenes and sent a train with 19th Century coaches toppling over a railway embankment.
In one episode, the production team had to recreate the 1915 World War I Battle of the Somme and built a battlefield just outside Wigan, Lancashire, “planting” especially stunted trees and digging trenches and bomb craters. More than 60 actors took part in the battle.
Young Will Oldroyd/Brigg Oldroyd/Francis Oldroyd/Chuff Morcar
Joe Bamforth/Henry Bamforth/David Oldroyd/Jonathan Oldroyd
Mr Oldroyd/Will Oldroyd Snr/Brigg Oldroyd/Francis Oldroyd
Meg Wynn Owen
Sophie Jane Smith-Oldroyd
Murder | Reunion | A Meeting | A Riot and a Parting | Strike | Misalliance | The Men Who Marched Away | Slump | Of Eros and of Dust | A Man of His Time