1 9 7 1 (UK)
5 x 50 minute episodes
This five-part BBC adaptation of French author Honoré de Balzac’s classic revolved around Cousin Bette (Margaret Tyzack), a poor spinster related to a minor aristocratic family, who thinks she has a chance for happiness with Count Wenceslas Steinbock (Colin Baker), a Polish aristocrat in exile after she rescues him from a suicide attempt.
The family thwart her happiness, though, and snare the exile for the Hulot’s young daughter, Hortense (Harriet Harper).
A furious Bette decides to wreak her revenge on her rich and handsome relatives and destroy the extended family.
She forges an alliance with the ambitious young Valérie (Helen Mirren) who helps her snare the head of the family Baron Hector Hulot (Thorley Walters) and weak-willed artist Steinbock into infidelity and financial ruin, to bring about the downfall of the Hulot family.
The Baron sacrifices his family fortune and good name to please Valérie, who leaves him for a tradesman named Crevel (John Bryans).
Baron Hector Hulot
Count Wenceslas Steinbock
Edward de Souza
Leon the Footman