Joan Hickson was hand-picked by Agatha Christie herself to eventually become Miss Jane Marple. She portrayed Jane Marple from 1984 until 1992 in a dozen TV movies. Her adaptations were faithful to the books, and her portrayal was faithful to the character.
The Best Miss Jane Marple
Several actresses have played Miss Jane Marple, Christie's amateur detective from the fictional St. Mary Mead. Joan Hickson is the best, no contest.
Late Actress Joan Hickson Was and Is The Best Portrayal of Miss Jane Marple
She wasn't the first and other actresses have portrayed her since she died
Imagine that you are an actress who is on the set of of a movie and the author of the book pays a visit. She takes one look at you and insists that you would be perfect to play her main detective. You would be absolutely thrilled, right? Not if you are middle-aged and the author is Agatha Christie-her female detective is so ancient when she makes her very first appearance in 1930 that no one has a clue how old she is. Well, this is what happened to Joan Hickson on the set of Murder She Said - aka 4.50 From Paddington in 1961. Hickson was 55 and she was not thrilled. In this movie Hickson was playing Mrs. Kidder opposite Margaret Rutherford as the great detective. One wonders whether Rutherford heard about this recommendation and if so, what she thought of it. It is ironic, then, that Joan Hickson would later agree to portray Jane Marple in several TV movies. Agatha Christie got her wish after all-8 years after the author died.
Her adaptations were superior to others, before and after, for 2 reasons: the screenplays are faithful to the novels; and Hickson is an accurate portrayal of the character.
As popular as Rutherford was, she portrayed Marple as if she were a crazy and outlandish woman and there was none of this in the books. Furthermore, there were liberties taken. One of the most notable was the series creating a character out of the wind to allow the actress's real-life husband to have a steady job playing her sidekick. Why do this? There was a perfectly good character already created by Christie who appeared in several, but not all, of Marple's mysteries-novel and short story length: Sir Henry Clithering, retired C.I.D. head. It would have made perfect sense for Sir Henry to be written into the mysteries in which he originally never appeared. This would be similar to adding Inspector Japp and Captain Hastings to Poirot mysteries opposite David Suchet. The characters actually appeared only in a few of the mysteries, but they fit in nicely to the TV series.
Joan Hickson first appeared as Jane Marple in 1984 in the TV movie The Body in the Library and last appeared in 1992 in the movie The Mirror Crack'd. She made one more screen appearance, period, before retiring . Perhaps she had wanted to wait until she had filmed all of the Marple mysteries before retirement. There was no attempt to film any Christie mysteries which did not include Miss Marple and simply write her in to them. This is what the current TV series has done. Purists beware! Joan Hickson died in 1998 at the age of 93.
Miss Marple Books
Here is a chronological listing of Miss Marple Books. As You can see right beside this list, Joan Hickson filmed all of the Miss Marple full-length mysteries. She did not tackle any of the short stories found in The Tuesday Club Murders:
The Murder at the Vicarage 1930
The Tuesday Club Murders 1932
The Body in the Library 1942
The Moving Finger 1943
A Murder is Announced 1950
Murder With Mirrors 1952 aka They Do it with Mirrors
A Pocketful of Rye 1953
What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw 1957 aka 4.50 From Paddington
The Mirror Crack'd (From Side to Side) 1962
A Carribbean Mystery 1964
At Bertram's Hotel 1965
Sleeping Murder 1976
Joan Hickson Portrayals of Jane Marple in Chronological order of Filming
The Body in the Library 1984
The Moving Finger 1985
A Murder is Announced 1985
A Pocketful of Rye 1985
The Murder at the Vicarage 1986
Sleeping Murder 1987
At Bertram's Hotel 1987
4.50 From Paddington 1987
A Carribbean Mystery 1989
They Do it With Mirrors 1991
The Mirror Crack'd 1992
Joan Hickson as Miss Jane Marple
|Miss Marple: The Complete Collection|
Binge on twelve classic mysteries by the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, or savor them slowly. Superb actress Joan Hickson serves murder anyway you like it as Miss Jane Marple,...