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How Joan Hickson Became Agatha Christie’s Ultimate Miss Marple

2020-01-10

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The newest addition to our stellar lineup of clever and lovable female detectives is none other than Agatha Christie’s iconic spinster sleuth, Miss Marple. The 1984 BBC version starring Joan Hickson is widely considered to be the favourite adaptation of the iconic character.

Hickson was discovered by Agatha Christie herself , 40 years prior to accepting the role of Miss Jane Marple and bringing the character to the small screen According to Christie’s grandson, the famous mystery author was never quite happy with most adaptations of her work and wasn’t a huge fan of television. But in the case of her beloved Miss Marple, Christie thought Hickson would be perfect for the role after seeing her in a play and wrote her a letter saying, “I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple.” Hickson initially thought she wouldn’t be right for the role, but Christie eventually got her wish when the opportunity arose for Hickson to a star in the role at the age of 78.

Miss Marple - S1E3

Miss Marple - S1E2

With highly regarded actresses including Helen Hayes, Angela Lansbury and Margaret Rutherford, having previously played Miss Marple, Hickson never thought of herself as the leading lady type and felt much more comfortable as a character actress. “I thought I was the wrong shape, that Miss Marple would be much fluffier than me, much more wearing shawls and things,” said Hickson. “But I was persuaded and now, well – I can only do it my way.”

Miss Marple - S1E3

Described by fellow actors as as “justice in a hand-knitted cardigan”, Hickson is still considered the definitive Miss Marple, perfectly capturing the character’s friendly yet cunning nature. “I think she’s a wonderful woman with a very clear outlook on life,” said Hickson. “Miss Marple believes in justice and has very high standards. There is nothing you could say or do that would shock her.”

Joan Hickson passed away in 1998 at the age of 92.

Airing Wednesdays, January 15 and 22 at 9pm ET on VisionTV, you can enjoy two more movie-length installments of Miss Marple this month and hopefully more to come.

NOTE: For those viewers programming their PVRs, the next two Marple movies are longer than our usual 2 hour Great Movies time slot.
“The Body in the Library” will air from 9pm to Midnight ET on Jan. 15
“A Murder Announced” will air from 9pm ET on Jan. 22 to 12:30am ET on Jan. 23

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