Nyree Dawn Porter was best remembered as Irene in The Forsyte Saga, the BBC adaptation of John Galsworthy's novel which attracted 18 million viewers. Churches up and down the country altered the times of evening services so that they had some hope of attracting a congregation. She went on to have a distinguished career on both television and stage. At the time of her death she had been touring in a production of Charley's Aunt with Eric Sykes.

She appeared in Glasgow in 1984 in The Chalk Garden, at the Theatre Royal. She explained then how she came by such an unusual forename. She had been christened Ngaire, which is Maori for Jasmine. When she went on stage, however, that was felt to be a bit on the exotic side and she opted for an anglicised spelling.

Her father was a Scots emigrant to New Zealand. Her arrival in the UK followed her success in a Miss Cinema competition organised by the Rank organisation in 1958. The prize included a visit to London and a screen test. Porter made the most of the opportunity and quickly set about seeking work on the London stage.

It was on television that she made her mark when The Forsyte Saga became a legendary blockbuster in the late sixties. At the time it was the BBC's most expensive drama production, costing #250,000. She won a Society of Film and Television Arts award for her part as Irene who was raped by her lawyer husband, Soames, played by Eric Porter. She used to recall how the rape scene went slightly awry at the filming. As Eric Porter began ripping at her bodice he gashed his hand on a brooch she was wearing. There was real blood flowing. ''I didn't have any difficulty putting on a horrified expression,'' she said. ''When I looked down and saw the blood I thought, what has he done to me?''

In 1970 Porter's husband, Byron O'Leary, died of an accidental drugs overdose. In 1975 she married another actor, Robin Halstead, who was the father of her daughter, Tassy. They divorced in 1987.

There was never another major role to match the success of Irene but Porter kept busy with stage work, often on overseas tours. She used to claim she had been around the world four times. Her last stage appearances were as Carlotta in Noel Coward's Song at Twilight at the Arts Theatre and in Charley's Aunt. She had to withdraw from that production last week.

Nyree Dawn Porter, actress; born January 22, 1940, died April 10, 2001.