If it takes an '80s actress to play an '80s woman, Deborah Raffin was cast perfectly in "James Clavell's Noble House."

In her own right, she is an actress married to a producer, and she's a partner in their production company.

In "Noble House," she plays Casey Tcholok (just call her Casey), a high-powered executive whose company becomes involved in a joint venture with one of Hong Kong's most powerful trading houses.

In the early going of the eight-hour miniseries, she comes on strong. She's powerful, smart and ambitious. Is that the way Raffin operates in her business world?

"Casey is all business," said Raffin, "and she loves it. In a field dominated by men, she has no buffer. I have a buffer: my husband. She has to be a lot tougher and a lot more shrewd.

"I admire her. She's tough, as well as having a feminine, humorous side, which is a difficult balance for a woman to maintain.

"Even today they have to overcome certain preconceived notions of what a woman executive should be. She's always on top of things and in control. As an actress, I had to show her vulnerability as well."

Clavell's sprawling novel, on which the series is based, was set in 1963. Even in a novel of larger-than-life characters, Casey seems to be a woman of the '80s.

"In the book, they refer to how Casey's always trying to prove herself," said Raffin. "That's a difference from the '60s to the '80s -- in the miniseries, she isn't always trying to prove herself."

She praised Clavell for creating such a character: "He's an extremely intelligent man," she said. "He's constantly growing. It's wonderful to see men as they continue to mature maintain an objectivity."

In her acting career, Raffin has 11 feature films, two plays, a TV series four miniseries, and 10 TV movies to her credit.

She is married to and in partnership with Michael Viner in Dove Books on Tape, which specializes in audio tapes.

Raffin also served as co-executive producer of "Sidney Sheldon's Windmills of the Gods," the miniseries that recently aired on CBS. At one time, "Windmills" and "Noble House" and ABC's "Elvis and Me" were scheduled to begin on the same night.

"We had decided we would go to Lapland that night," said Raffin. "We had no desire to be in the country and hear about the ratings."

But NBC blinked and moved "Noble House" to this week, running it 9 to 11 p.m. tonight through Wednesday -- right in the middle of ABC's telecast of the Winter Olympics. This could turn out to be a move from the frying pan to the fire.

"I'm not thrilled," said Raffin. "We can only hope ... At least one is more of a news story, while the other is sheer entertainment ... At least we're not in the same genre. Noble House has so many devoted readers."

Translating books to other media has been part of Raffin's life for the past 2 1/2 years. Dove, she said, has more than 100 titles on tape, with authors ranging from Sidney Sheldon to Charles Dickens. Actors and actresses who have recorded for Dove include Michael York, Jason Robards, Lee Remick and Roger Moore.

And there's been the miniseries translation of "Windmills." "It's a project we bought one and a half, two years ago," she said. "Sidney's a friend. It went into production after 'Noble House.'"

Raffin is obviously fond of the world of big books, by whatever measure. "They do write delightful, larger-than-life entertainment that's refreshing for people to come home to," she said of the Clavell-Sheldon type works. "You can forget daily problems. They write about people you can admire, even if you can't identify with.

"It's a luxury for me to do this," she said.