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Fortunes of War – #6/7 – Egypt: September 1942 – Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson


Fortunes of War is a 1987 BBC television adaptation of Olivia Manning’s cycle of novels Fortunes of War. It stars Kenneth Branagh as Guy Pringle, lecturer in English Literature in Bucharest during the early part of the Second World War, and Emma Thompson as his wife Harriet. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson met filming the TV series and married in real life. Other cast members included Ronald Pickup, Robert Stephens, Alan Bennett, Philip Madoc and Rupert Graves. The series stays relatively faithful to the original novels, with no notable departures from their plot.

This episode

After their unceremonious arrival in Cairo, Guy and Harriet are forced to stay in an old brothel. Guy struggles to find work when it emerges that an old adversary is in charge of the English School. When Guy has to go to Alexandria, Harriet moves into ‘Garden City’ with Dobson. A naïve young officer, Simon Boulderstone, goes in search of his brother Hugo and befriends Harriet. Harriet is also introduced to eccentric Mr. Liversage, flirtatious Edwina and authoritative Mr. Clifford. Harriet and Simon visit the pyramids with Liversage and Clifford and climb them together. Harriet warns a naive Simon that the Egyptians dislike the British because the British have exploited them for years for control of the Suez Canal. Simon doesn’t understand until he, Harriet and Mortimer, a female soldier, visit a live sex show, at which he is disgusted. Harriet and Simon also meet the Hoopers, a rich couple whose son has just been killed by a land mine. The Germans close in and Simon must go off to fight.

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