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Eric Porter (1928-1995)


  1. Peter O‘Toole, Becket, 1963.    O ‘Toole met the French playwright  Jean  Anouilh in Paris  when he was beingt wooed for the West End  version.  Porter finally played King Henry II battling his 12th Century Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. Despite his global TV fame from  the1967 Forfsyte Saga,  US producer Hal Wallis wanted bigger Names, bigger Stars!!! He got them: King O’Toole anf Archbiship Richard Burton. (Anthony Quinn  was the  Broadway king opposite Laurence Oliver). O’Toole always said that Porter was “one of the two best  Lears I’ve ever seen."   

  2. Peter Cushing, Sherlock Holmes, TV, 1968.     After 13 episodes in 1964-1965, Douglas Wilmer refused to continue with incompetent scripts ranging from  “the brilliant to the absolutely deplorable.” The BBC asked John Neville to repeat his Sherlock from the 1964 movie, A Study In Terror. Porter was next favourite following his global triumph in Aunty’s Forsyte Saga, 1967.  Finally, Cushing signed on for16 shows, including The Hound of the Baskervilles, which he’d already made for Hammer in 1958. (Alan Wheatley had been the first BBC (indeed, the first TV) Holmes in 1951. Porter, of course, was much better suited to Moriarty - and played him twice opposite Jeremy Brett’s Holmes in 1985.

  3. Robert Hardy, Demons of the Mind, 1971.    Hammer Films’ horrors were running out of steam. Its new (indeed almost last) villain, Baron Zorn, was also aimed at Bogarde, James Mason and Paul Scofield. Eric Porter took it over, then switched to another Hammer vehicle: Hands of the Ripper. No better! Both Ripper and Demons were released on double-bills with, respectively, Twins of Evil and and Tower of Evil (US: Horror on Snape Island), 1972.
  4. Albert Finney, Nostromo, TV, 1997. A stage date made Paul Scofield quit director David Lean's long struggle to film the Joseph Conrad novel.. Lean gave the role to Porter, the unforgettable Soames in the BBC's Forsyte Saga, 1967. Lean stuck by him when French producer Serge Silberman insisted on Scofield. It all ended up as a a mini-series. Poor Porter never achieved his expected greatness after  Soiames Fosyte. Said actress Susan Engel : "He couldn’t cope with his own sexuality.  He was tortured…"



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