Hickson Vs all the other Jane Marples

TommyTommy Vale of Glamorgan, The, United Kingdom
To get this forum going you may have noticed some rather simplistic discussions being posted by me - that said, these are the sort of questions for which we all have an instinctive opinion on, and though Joan Hickson may win this one hands down, it's always interesting to hear how the passing of time has affected fans' opinions on say McEwan, who was rather unloved initially but now more fondly remembered. What say you?  


  • My all time favourite Miss Marple has to be Joan Hickson. She's  is, how I picture Miss Marple to be. Helpful but shrewd, ladylike but also worldly wise. Also she has a quiet sense of humour, which is subtle. 

    I think that Julia Mckenzie is close behind Joan Hickson. She has a warm but clever approach to crime solving. It's a pity that some of the episode she's starred in have been, to me, frankly just terrible. For instance The Secret Of Chimneys and Murder Is Easy. But thankfully A Caribean Mystery was a great episode, so I look forward to seeing new Mckenzie Marple episodes.

    I absolutely love the film The Mirror Crack'd with Angela Lansbury. I've seen 3 different versions, with Hickson, Mckenzie and Lansbury .  I like this version best. But for me AL wasn't quiet like my image Miss Marple. She was a little more outgoing. But she was still likeable. When I read Charles Osborne's book The Life And Crimes Of Agatha Christie, he didn't seem very impressed by the movie. I liked how stylish it was. Plus seeing Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak as Marina and Lola trading insults makes great viewing. I have wondered why Lansbury only made the one Miss Marple film?

    Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple was too robust, too extroverted and forward. The adaptions are only very, very loosely based on anything AC ever wrote. But the films are very light, so it's hard to feel very affronted by them somehow. 

    I've seen  the Helen Hayes films I've not been too impressed by the settings. I felt like something was lost when they transferred the time period to the 1980's. I've never actually seen many comments about Hayes portrayal as Miss Marple. I thought she was ok, but not that memorable. 

    Geraldine McEwan- there was alot of controversy about her when the episodes were first aired. I never actually disliked her  portrayal as Miss Marple. Her clothes and appearance were very fitting. The problem for me was that some of the episodes she was in were just appalling! The plots had been altered, characters had been changed so that they were unrecognizable. The very worst thing was that some of the murderers were changed. 
    Not surprisingly, this really raised Christie fans hackles. I think that McEwan became a scapegoat for all criticism. Because people hated the episodes they needed someone to blame. True that at times she was very unlike Chrisite's creation, that does make me wonder if she had read the books.

    Can you picture Miss Marple pushing a man off a boat? Or having an affair with a married man? The supposed justification was to create a backstory to Marple's past. The problem is that if you begin to write another persons character, you rewrite them. 

    There were remarks she was either too giggly ( possible reference to Bertram's Hotel ) or somtimes she was described in reviews as too steely. For instance how she interviewed the girl guide in the Body In The library. 

    But as Miss Marple is more complex than she first appears, maybe these criticisms were a little harsh. It can't be easy to get the balance right.  How easy is it to play a seemingly dear old lady sitting  calmly knitting, whist solving crimes that Scotland Yard have baffled over for years? 
     I think the McEwan episodes are very mixed, so I recommend Body In The Library (if you ignore the end), A Murder Is Announced and The Moving Finger. McEwan's Marple behaves quite in character in these and you can see that perhaps if the scripts had been different, maybe she would have been better received by fans.

  • tisshaheltisshahel Connecticut, United States
    Are we allowed to vote for none of the above?  I've developed an idea in my head of how Miss Marple should be, after reading all of her books, and none of the actresses to date have matched that idea.

  • TommyTommy Vale of Glamorgan, The, United Kingdom

    tisshahel said:
    Are we allowed to vote for none of the above?  I've developed an idea in my head of how Miss Marple should be, after reading all of her books, and none of the actresses to date have matched that idea.

    Yes, of course. Which actress most closely matches your vision for Jane Marple? We had a vote on Facebook a while ago and Maggie Smith was the run-away winner for fans' choice of most suitable actress to play Miss Marple.
  • Interesting. If Julia Mckenzie left, then I think I'd also like Judi Dench as Miss Marple. 

    My worst nightmare is if Disney did ever go ahead with their idea planned film for a youthful modern day Miss Marple. It's the worst idea ever! I think this has been project abandoned? I  sure hope so.

  • AgathasmykidAgathasmykid British Columbia, Canada

    Maggie Smith would have been great!!  If Judi Dench did one, that would be awesome too.


    For some reason of the choices given I pick Rutherford, although I can't really explain why lol.  Maybe it was because she was the first film adaptation of Miss Marple I had seen.

  • tudestudes Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    I liked Angela Lansburry as Miss Marple. I also like Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple, but I simply hated the adaptions. At Bertram's Hotel was disgusting. They created a new and awful story. I think only The Moving Finger and A Murder is Announced are fairly good. The others films, please, don't watch them!
    I think Julie Mckenzie is a great Marple and the films were usually fine, especially Pocket full of Rye. She is very gentle and polite and quite smart. On the other hand,  Why they didn' t ask Evans couldn't  had be done.  It was not even a Miss Marple book to start.
    Unfortunately, I watched just two films with Joan Hickson as Marple. I liked a lot. She is a cute Marple. Very cozy and clever.
    I think it's really difficult to pick one. It depends not only on the actress, but also on the others actors, the script, if you like or not the original story and so on.
  • SeakaySeakay Cardiff, United Kingdom
    I thought that Geraldine McEwan was fine - the character that she was given to play by her director and script writer just wasn't the Miss Marple found in the novels and so was a pointless creation. It's a shame that the script writer didn't have the courage to create their own fictional character instead of using the name of someone else's.

    Joan Hickson is my favourite Marple of all time
  • SeaSnapSeaSnap Cornwall, United Kingdom

    My favourite is Julia McKenzie. She is really good as Miss Marple, although she has been victim to bad scripting. 'Why didn't the ask Evans' was bad. Really bad. They should have left Miss Marple out of it. But she is way better than Margret Rutherford. Her films are comedy more than anything else.


  • The worse one, that actually offended me quite a lot was 'by the pricking of my thumbs', where lovely tuppence was reduced to a relegated alcoholic and tommy a boorish idiot. Lucky miss marple was there to show them how it's done... Bring back Joan hickson. I wish she was my granny.
  • miss_mysterymiss_mystery Essex, United Kingdom
    i have to say Joan Hickson is still my favorite Miss Marple of all time, follow by even though the films that she was in was loosely based on AC books was Margaret Rutherford, follow by  Julia McKenzie for today's audience. I would of love them to cast someone like June Whitfield who played Miss Marple in the radio plays to me my own opinion would of filled the late Joan Hickson's shoes perfectly. never mind Julia McKenzie is a lot better Miss Marple than Geraldine McEwan was, didn't like, felt she wasn't right actress to play the part of Miss Marple. 
  • I always feel that Margaret Rutherford should have starred in an Miss Marple spoof, rather than as Miss Marple.  She was definitely a comic actress. I think her best performance was the medium in Noel Coward adaptation Blithe Spirit. 

    Tudes- Actually I think Bertram's hotel with McEwan was a completely farce! To anyone who not had the misfortune of seeing it, there's a woman backflipping over a table and old ladies throwing wool around.  This is actually true!

    Anna- Agree completely, I wish we could bring back Joan Hickson, but sadly she's longer here.

    MissMystery, also agree I think June Whitfield would be excellent.

    Sea Snap- I've not seen Evans- I'm guessing it's not like the book?

    SeaKay-  I agree about scripts.

    I wonder what episodes will be filmed next in the Marple series? Because all of the Miss Marple full length novels have been filmed. I expect they might sneak in some Non series books.  Maybe The Man in The Brown Suit. 

    I love The Christmas Tragedy short story, I think that has potential for a full adaptation.

    I might also add that Richard E Grant was very good as Raymond West, but he had a lousy episode to star in- Nemesis. 

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

    I am glad someone else thinks Angela Landesbury was good as Miss Marple, I loved her in the Mirror Crack'd I don't think it was better than the Joan Hickson version but just as good although seeing Miss Marple smoke was a shock I could have done without, I think I read somewhere that a film of A Murder Is Announced was considered with Angela Landesbury but was never made, what a shame, she is just right for the book.

    I quite like Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple, I love the films she did as her and am sorry they didn't do Body In The Library which was planned, I agree June Whitfield would have been an excellent Miss Marple but I have the Audio Cassettes and I can imagine her.

    I think Alexander Armstrong should have played Rex West and I hope if they do another series of Marple   I hope they do Sanctuary    

  • I like Alexander Armstrong as a presenter but I can't picture him as Raymond West at all. RW is arch, witty, sharp and young in early books and imposing and a little eccentric in later books. I think if they did remake Marple again, then the actor Alex Jennings as the later Raymond. I saw him Riot At The Rite and I think he's suitably arch. I think he may have been in a AC adapation, but can't remember which one.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I agree with you about Alex Jennings would be good as RW but I still think lexander Armstrong also would, I would have liked to see Richard E Grant as the Butler in Murdr On The Orient Express or maybe even the Victim's secretary, Alex Jennings was in Cards On The Table wasn't he?
  • Yes, It was Cards On The Table. Admittedly Alex Jennings didn't look like how Dr Roberts was described, But then, few people in the adaptations really do. As long as Miss Marple or poirot look something like the book's description then I can overlook the other characters.

    I think Joanna Lumley is great at Dolly Bantry, despite her not being how I picture her. I imagine Dolly as being rather untidy looking, a little frumpy. More interested in gardens that clothes. What does everyone else think? The Dolly Bantry in the Hickson version didn't really have much presence and came across as dull. So in that aspect the recent series is better in the portrayal as Raymond west and Dolly.

  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I thought Gwen Watford was had Dolly Bantry down to a Tee apart from Visually, I always imagined she looked like Michelle Dotrice in The Mirror Crack'd but with Gwen Watford's voice, I think Joanna Lumley had the right level of Jolly Hockey stickish but looked totally wrong in my view, Margaret Courtney was bettar as Miss Knight than Dolly Bantry, she would have been just right for Ariadne Oliver.
  • Joan Hickson has got to be my favourite Miss Marple by far, but I would love to see Dame Maggie Smith stepping into those sensible shoes and having a go. I think she would do well as our lovely sleuth.  
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I agree Carol I think I heard she was asked but the Harry Potter Films had started so she turned the role down, I might be wrong but she is one of 3 Actresses I think would be good in the role who have never done it, the other 2 are Angela Thorne and Patricia Garwood who was in the Adaptation of A Parker Pyne Story The Discontented Soldier (I might have the name wrong)
  • SeaSnapSeaSnap Cornwall, United Kingdom
    MissQuin, 'Why didn't they ask Evans?' was a TERRIBLE adaption. The addition of Miss Marple ruined it, although Julia McKenzie's first scene was good. I did like 'The Pale Horse' Miss Marple adaptation. Julia was very Miss Marple-like! 
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    I agree with you Sea Snap, Why Didn't They Ask Evans? was not very good, It had good Bits, Mark Williams was good but ITV and the Estate should have the Cofidence to do Non-Marples without Mis Marple, I think if ITV can't do the books well they shouldn't try, All the Non Marple stories they have done have been good ones instead of picking on the bad ones likeSparkling Cyanide, Passenger To Frankfurt and Death Comes As the End but they are doing Endless Night so I might get my wish
  • SeaSnap said:
    MissQuin, 'Why didn't they ask Evans?' was a TERRIBLE adaption. The addition of Miss Marple ruined it, although Julia McKenzie's first scene was good. I did like 'The Pale Horse' Miss Marple adaptation. Julia was very Miss Marple-like! 
    Evans-I don't know if I can be bothered to watch it now. I actually had the DVD and I never took the wrapper off! It was an unwanted present, as I didn't think too much of the series so I didn't watch it.

    The Pale Horse-spolers!!  it's about as good as it could have been with Miss Marple added. The age of a character was made much younger, a little annoying. But they  played the person well. There was an attempt at adding naughty behavior by some made up characters, which was more funny (unintentionally) than shocking. Julie McKenzie has been good in all the episodes I've seen I'm just sorry she's been given tripe to act in like Murder Is Easy.  

    What traits do make her like Miss Marple I wonder?  I think maybe she seems patient and quiet but friendly with shrewdness mixed in. 

    I'm trying to adjust to Miss Marple being in Endless Night. Yes it's very similar to a Miss Marple story. But it has major differences.  I just hope they don't round all the suspects in a room at the end, or I'll just explode! Why did they keep doing that? It's a Poirot trait more than Miss Marples.
  • maxamillionmaxamillion Walsall, United Kingdom
    There is only one Miss Marple Joan Hickson she portrays Miss Marple as she is in the Agatha Christie books
  • glalonzo0408glalonzo0408 Pennsylvania, United States
    I would absolutely love to see Dame Judi Dench as Miss Marple.  Her acting is second to none.
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

    I think Dame Judie would be better off as The Middle sister in Nemesis or the Elderly Lady in Sparkling Cyanide which are roles Geraldine McKewen could have done Brilliantly

  • KayLesterKayLester Staffordshire, United Kingdom
    Simply Joan Hickson she has Jane Marple perfectly.
  • theaternerdtheaternerd New Jersey, United States
    I like Geraldine McEwan's quirkiness as Marple. Character wise, she fits Marple best for me, regardless of altered plot lines. Visually, she isn't what imagine Miss Marple to look like, I more imagined someone who looks like a combination of Joan Hickson and Margaret Rutherford. In other words, someone who looks more like my grandmother. 
  • I have seen the most episodes of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple with Julia McKenzie in them and I thought she portrayed the character quite well but I haven't watched any episodes recently since I have read more books. That could change my opinion.


  • cwa11acecwa11ace Maine, United States
    Joan Hickson for me - I loved when she's pondering something. I have to admit though, as someone mentioned earlier, I am in love with everything Maggie Smith has done and would find it interesting to see how she would have performed in that role....?
  • Maggie Smith's portrayal of characters usually have that biting wit behind them. That makes me wonder if she was Marple would she be more arch (in a brilliant way!)?
  • Tommy_A_JonesTommy_A_Jones Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
    She would be excellent Misss Quin, she looks like my Idea of Miss Marple before I saw Joan Hickson, Maggie Smith Patricia Gatrwood (The Discontented Soldier)  or Angela Thorne all look like my Idea of Miss Marple. but the best Miss Marple has been without a Doubt Joan Hickson
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