1 9 6 9 (UK)
5 x 45 minute episodes
London in the 1870s is gripped in a fever of speculation. The latest figure to emerge at the centre of this scene is Augustus Melmotte (Colin Blakely), a shady financier (pictured below) with a mysterious past who is reputed to possess a large fortune. Cue an ugly, thoroughly undignified rush after his daughter, Marie (Angharad Rees).
The principal suitor, who is duly cheered on by his mother, is a languid, lazy and selfish young baronet called Sir Felix Carbury (Cavan Kendall), who is determined never to do a day’s work except perhaps to turn a hand of cards – a pursuit at which he invariably loses his money, or rather his mother’s money, since his own has long since been dissipated across the green baize.
Lady Carbury (Rachel Gurney) is a lady novelist and journalist, though of slight talent, and is trying to earn with her pen enough money to enable her son to cut a suitable dash in front of the heiress.
She also has to cope with the problem of her daughter, Henrietta (Sharon Gurney), who is making an undaughterly fuss about marrying their rich cousin Roger (Inigo Jackson) – an upright and moral squire living at the family estate of Carbury Hall in Suffolk – offering the petty excuse that she doesn’t love him.
All this, plus some quite devious machinations in the City, in turn involving another ominously prophetic newcomer to the London scene – a big American financier – makes up a shrewd satire on the money-based society in which dynasties rose and fell.
This five-part BBC2 series was adapted from Anthony Trollope’s novel by Simon Raven.
The series was remade in 2001 with David Suchet, Shirley Henderson, Matthew Macfadyen, and Cillian Murphy.
Charles Lloyd Pack
Sir Felix Carbury
Lord Alfred Grendall
The Great Heiress | Nothing Venture | Melmotte’s Glory | Melmotte Contra Mundrum | Close of Play