Agatha Christie's Jane Marple
BBC ~ Geraldine McEwan is ITV's crime-fighting pensioner.
It seems like only yesterday that Joan Hickson hung up her handbag as Miss Marple. She went out with the immortal words, "More, tea vicar?" in 1992's The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side.
Hickson, who died in 1998, took on the role in 1984, aged 78.
She's being replaced by a mere 72 year old, the formidable Geraldine McEwan. ITV have lined her up to star in four films - The Body In The Library, A Murder Is Announced, Murder At The Vicarage and 4.50 From Paddington.
It looks as though the Marple cannon will receive the same treatment as the channel's superb Poirot range, with a fruity cast being wheeled out - including Simon Callow, Ian Richardson and Jack Davenport.
In the press release, Geraldine McEwan said: "With Miss Marple I feel that I have been entrusted with a national treasure of whom I already feel both protective and extremely fond."
Previous Miss Marples have included Angela Lansbury (slightly squiffy), Helen Hayes (rather frail), and Margaret Rutherford (the maddest thing on screen ever, like a petticoat tornado). BBC
Marple mystery solved at last Daily Mail
IT WAS a role that almost every veteran actress in Britain would have given her right knitting needle to win.
If Dr Who was the part that actors would have killed for, then for actresses, it was Miss Jane Marple.
But the mystery is over. Geraldine McEwan will go before the cameras on May 10 playing Agatha Christie's world-famous bun-topped sleuth.
Joan Hickson starred in several dramas based on Miss Christie's classic whodunits, such as Murder At The Vicarage, and they remain landmark television shows that were watched around the globe, winning the late Ms Hickson numerous honours for her performances.
The ITV network have wanted to bring back the much-loved character, but they didn't know who to pick. At one point, the likes of Eileen Atkins, Annette Crosbie and Joanna Lumley Joanna Lumley?! were on a wish list.
The final decision wasn't just down to executives at Granada TV; they also had to consult partners at America's A&E channel, which is helping to foot the bill.
Then Ms McEwan 's name had to be approved by those who control Miss Christie's estate.
Ms McEwan is one of our most distinguished and formidable thespians. Last year she played a sadistic nun in Peter Mullan's film The Magdalene Sisters, and she'll appear later this year in another movie, Vanity Fair, opposite Reese Witherspoon and James Purefoy.
Daily Mail, London
The Times Online:
AGATHA CHRISTIE'S MARPLE: THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY
"It is one of those cases," says Miss Marple, "when one could so easily find oneself barking up the wrong tree."
If you enjoy barking up trees, it is difficult to imagine how Agatha Christie could be done better than this.
Unlike the Rutherford or Hickson interpretations, Geraldine McEwan's Miss Marple is a worldly lady with a past, full of mischief and fun.
Joanna Lumley, Ian Richardson, Simon Callow and James Fox all give performances that have spent years maturing in a dark cellar, while David Walliams does a memorable turn as a very dim/highly intelligent character modelled on Boris Johnson. Whodunnit heaven. DC
Till the Cows Come Home!
Miss Marple has always been a curious protagonist. She doesn't really act, or even react; she observes.
Listening and thinking are the hardest things an actor can do, but McEwan can do them till the cows come home... she speaks in this tinkling little voice that should be wrapped in tissue and kept in a box.
But when she's on the scent, her sweetness melts, you sense her mind snapping like a bolt-cutter, and she starts speaking the way Obi-Wan Kenobi did when he did his mind-control thing!
Joan Hickson was 86 when she made her last Marple; if McEwan chooses to do nothing but this for another 14 years, we should count ourselves fortunate. The Sunday Herald
A Body in the Library
Some of A Body in the Library was filmed in the Sussex resort town of Eastbourne: bandstand, the pier, the town beach, Western Lawns and the Grand Hotel.
The cast includes Geraldine McEwan, Simon Callow, Jack Davenport, Tara Fitzgerald, Ian Richardson, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Tompkinson, James Fox and Adam Garcia.
Murder At The Vicarage some scenes were filmed in Windsor.
The cast includes Geraldine McEwan, Janet McTeer, Stephen Tompkinson, Herbert Lom, Tim McInnerny, Jason Flemyng and Robert Powell.
4.50 from Paddington
Cast includes Geraldine McEwan, Pam Ferris, Niamh Cusack, John Hannah, Amanda Holden, Celia Imrie, Griff Rhys Jones, David Warner, Jenny Agutter, Rob Brydon, Tasha Bertham, Charlie Creed-Mills, Ben Daniels, Rose Keegan, Michael Landes, Martixell Lavanchy, Toby Marlow, Neve McInntosh, Ciaran McMenamin, Kurtis O'Brien, Tim Stern, Pip Torrens
A Murder Is Announced
Cast includes Geraldine McEwan, Alexander Armstrong, Zoe Wanamaker, Elaine Paige, Virginia McKenna, Frances Barber, Cherie Lunghi, Christian Coulson, Richard Dickson, Matthew Goode, Sienna Guillory, Keeley Hawes, Gerard Horan, Nicole Lewis, Lesley Nicol, Christian Pederson, Robert Pugh, Claire Skinner, Catherine Tate
ITV3 will show repeats of the films.
ITV3? Behind the Scenes: Agatha Christie's Marple 10pm January 2. Includes interviews with Geraldine McEwan, Amanda Holden, Niamh Cusack, Ben Daniels, Griff Rhys Jones, Joanna Lumley, Derek Jacobi, Cherie Lunghi and Jack Davenport .
Each film cost £2 million.
Marple is a co-production of the British company Granada, part of ITV plc, and US broadcaster WGBH Boston.
Sydney Morning Herald
Left in the dark: It'll take more than a little blue torch to shed light on the appeal of forensic television, writes Ruth Ritchie.
March 12, 2005
The most refreshing crime-buster of the week managed to solve the case without a blue torch or a crystal ball. We're in a sorry way when Agatha Christie makes refreshing television, but Miss Marple: The Body in the Library (ABC, Sunday) was a hoot. Even for viewers with no interest in the whodunit genre, the casting and production values justified the existence of this fine Sunday night froth. Geraldine McEwan was magnificent sipping scotch and ginger wine, and knitting booties while everyone around her missed the obvious clues.
Starting with Angela Lansbury, there is at least a netball team of old ladies who shouldn't do detective work, but McEwan is not one of them. Her sidekick for this outing, the ladylike yet salacious Joanna Lumley, appeared to enjoy every minute of her dizzy role. She behaved like Aunty Mame-by-the-sea in a performance more camp than any on parade at mardi gras.
Jack Davenport and Simon Callow delivered definitive Christie characters, savouring every predictable twist and turn along the way. Perhaps it is less the absence of blue torches and more the inclusion of meaty characters that separates Marple from the plethora of Bruckheimer techno-peep shows.
THE AGE - Australia - March 10, 2005
Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple.
Geraldine McEwan joins a line-up of sleuths, Michael Idato reports.
In taking the role of Agatha Christie's much-loved sleuth Miss Jane Marple, Geraldine McEwan has big shoes to fill. Depending on your age, you might remember Margaret Rutherford or Angela Lansbury in the role. More recently, Joan Hickson starred in 12 TV adaptations - the last in 1996 - and is considered by many to be the definitive Miss Marple.
McEwan, 72, is relaxed at the thought of following in their footsteps. "Which is not to say I don't think they were wonderful, and that I don't admire those people enormously," she says. "But I am not daunted. It doesn't really come into my sense of it all."
Miss Marple made her first appearance in a series of six short stories penned by Christie for Britain's Sketch magazine. She was one of a group of friends in the quiet Kentish town of St Mary Meade who met each Tuesday to discuss unsolved crimes. Invariably, Miss Marple nabbed her villain.
Several film and television adaptations followed, with varying degrees of success. The character is even said to have inspired the long- running TV series Murder, She Wrote, though most Christie scholars agree that another of her characters, mystery novelist Ariadne Oliver, more closely resembles Jessica Fletcher, the lead character there.
The new series of telemovies, produced by Granada, shifts the stories and characters into the 1950s. Four of the books - The Body in the Library, The Murder at the Vicarage (which screens on Sunday), 4.50 From Paddington and A Murder Is Announced - have been made, with four more scheduled.
The remakes created something of a minor scandal in Britain, with their touches of overt sexuality, the hint of a past love for the normally asexual Miss Marple and one scandalous story rewritten with a new denouement and a new killer. (For the record, the rewrite was done with the blessing of Mathew Prichard, Christie's grandson and the chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd.)
McEwan's Miss Marple is quite different to her predecessors. In the past she has always been interpreted as a stern figure or a flighty one, and usually shrewish and unyielding. McEwan's Marple might not be younger in body, but she certainly is in spirit. The new Jane Marple is mischievous, young at heart and challenges the local constabulary with a flirtatious tone and a twinkle in her eye.
After The Body in the Library last week, with a cast including Ian Richardson and Joanna Lumley, The Murder at the Vicarage features Sir Derek Jacobi, Herbert Lom and Miriam Margolyes, among others.
The screenplays milk a great deal of humour from the text. Playing Miss Marple for laughs? Surely not. But McEwan says the portrayal is actually closer to Christie's original work than most previous screen adaptations. "In her books, I was really taken by surprise by the humour generally, and in particular with Miss Marple," she says.
"She's very gregarious. People love being with her because she is so vivacious. She has a diamond-sharp mind, she's compassionate, she's interested in people, particularly young people, and she's entertaining. I encourage anybody to take another look at the books and tune into the humour. I think she took a great delight in writing it. She wasn't just writing whodunits and working out plots. She was getting a lot out of it. It is very, very subtle humour."
VARIETY: Posted: Thurs., Apr. 14, 2005, 1:29pm PT
Miss Marple By BRIAN LOWRY
About halfway through "Miss Marple," the realization struck that this was a dramatic series starring an old woman, something about as apt to be witnessed on American television as Sean Hannity criticizing the Bush administration. Leisurely paced and lovingly assembled, this latest installment in the "Mystery!" franchise offers a pleasant English throwback to the merry old days, given that the only comparable figure in primetime is a sleuthing teenager named Veronica Mars.
Four Marple mysteries are being adapted and presented in two hourlong installments each, with Geraldine McEwan bringing a sprightly, almost impish quality to Agatha Christie's titular creation, the grandmotherly figure with a gift for solving homicides.
The opener, "The Murder at the Vicarage," takes its time building toward the slaying of a persnickety colonel (played with a proper dose of starch by Derek Jacobi), after providing just about everyone in the tiny village of St. Mary Mead with a motive to do him in.
Along with a set-upon representative of Scotland Yard (Stephen Tompkinson), Jane Marple goes about sifting through clues, from the rebellious daughter and the unfaithful wife to the bitter maid or the mysterious houseguests. "How clever. How wicked," Miss Marple muses, a twinkle in her eye, when the answer finally dawns on her.
Beautifully shot, nicely cast and impeccably appointed with trappings of the period, the episodes develop so assiduously as to feel positively prehistoric, which for some will render this "Murder, Most Boring." Marple even dares reconstruct what happened without the benefit of computer-generated imagery to illustrate precisely how the bullet penetrated the thorax.
Although probably most closely associated with Margaret Rutherford, who played Miss Marple in the 1960s, the septuagenarian McEwan -- an accomplished stage actress -- puts her stamp on the part, and the premiere humanizes the character further with melancholy flashbacks to her youth.
Personally, Marple has never held quite the same allure as other famed literary detectives, though at least it's easier to spell than Hercule Poirot. Still, an audience exists for this genre that almost certainly would go begging without PBS filling the breach, as one-time imitators such as A&E become home to the exploits of "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
"Miss Marple" likely won't be a smash within the 18-to-49 demo, and there's even an amusing reference to how much "old fogies" enjoy a good murder in the second adaptation, "A Murder Is Announced." (The other cases are "The Body in the Library" and "What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw.")
The strongest case for PBS' continued existence is that being less enslaved by commercial pressures theoretically allows public TV to serve two demographics generally neglected by commercial television: Children and seniors. In our youth-obsessed culture, it doesn't require a great detective to recognize which bracket draws the shortest end of the programming stick.
SLEEPING MURDER 3 articles from Devon & Cast List
Sleeping Murder Cast
Dawn French (The Vicar of Dibley, French & Saunders)
Sophia Myles (The Thunderbirds, Tristan & Isolde, Nicholas Nickleby, Mansfield Park)
Paul McGann (Dr. Who, Poirot, Horatio Hornblower)
Sarah Parish (Cutting It, Trust)
Russ Abbott (The Russ Abbott Show)
Martin Kemp (The Krays, Eastenders)
Geraldine Chaplin (Bridge of San Luis Rey -2004, Dr. Zhivago)
Anna Louise Plowman (Cambridge Spies, He Knew He Was Right)
Una Stubbs (Worzel Gummidge, Don Carlos, Deep Blue Sea)
Aidan McArdle, Julian Wadham, Phil Davis,
THE MOVING FINGER - second film in Series II - filming complete
Emilia Fox: y, Kelly Brook, Thelma Barlow, Jessica Stevenson, Ken Russell, Harry Enfield, Keith Allen, James D'Arcy, Frances De La Tour, Sean Pertwee, Talulah Riley, John Sessions, Imogen Stubbs
BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS; Greta Scaachi, Anthony Andrews, Claire Bloom, Charles Dance, Leslie Phillips, Steven Berkoff, Brian Conley, Clare Holman, Josie Lawrence, Michelle Ryan, June Whitfield, Lia Wlliams
The Sittaford Mystery - Cast List
Michael Brandon, Timothy Dalton, Laurence Fox, Robert Hardy, Patricia Hodge, Paul Kaye, Matthew Kelly, Carey Mulligan, James Murray, Mel Smith, Zoe Telford, Rita Tushingham, James Wilby
Publicity Photos & Interviews -Series II
Dawn French on her part in The Sleeping Murder
Janet Erskine is a friendly, warm person whose life hasn’t turned out to be quite as glamorous as she might have hoped. She secretly harbored hopes of a career in light opera but has ended up with the Funnybones which nevertheless, she loves. She has to put up with Dickie’s depression but she loves him very much and recognizes he is a somewhat broken man since the war. She has a saucy side but has to keep this pretty much under wraps! Personally, I think she makes the outfits for the Funnybones girls!
I was attracted to the part because I’m such a Miss Marple fan and I wanted to work with Ed Hall. Also, I knew I would have a chance to do some loud and bad singing, which is one of my favourite pastimes. The production value is fab and the acting and directing are a treat. Very British. Sublime.
I LOVED this cast and have since adopted them ALL into my actual family. We had a hoot both on and off screen. The Funnybones may well tour the English seaside towns in the future, playing all the piers! I loved the mixture of actors and comedians and I adored Geraldine the most!
Martin Kemp plays Jackie Afflick in The Sleeping Murder
As far as the cast is concerned, you couldn't ask for more - it's fantastic! I keep looking around the room and taking in who's in the show and it's absolutely wonderful. It's a thrill to be on set and it's a real honour to be asked. Geraldine McEwan is brilliant. Absolutely fantastic. She came onto the set the other morning and went through a six minute monologue without dropping a single word. She was clapped after the rehearsal, which kind of sums it up!
Frances De La Tour plays Mrs Maud Dane Calthrop in The Moving Finger
Maud is a vicar's wife with a difference. She's eccentric, or rather her life is. Her husband is wonderful and totally eccentric and he completely embodies that mad 'Reverend' idea. She cares about the community, but she's over involved and just a bit mad really! I think the villagers like her very much because she likes them. That's quite genuine. Even though she's lah-didah and a bit posh, she does care. She likes to think of herself as a bit of a sleuth as well because she tries to work out what is happening in the village. Nothing is really explained about Maud and Miss Marple's friendship, but it's nice. It's more - 'I'm here, I'm an old friend so she stays with me'. They probably go back a long way and have gone different ways but sort of stayed in touch.
You think you are going to have a lot of fun with something like this... and you do! The last time I did a Christie was Poirot: Death on the Nile and we went to Egypt which was wonderful. This isn't quite so glamorous, though you do get to meet such wonderful actors. It's wonderful to work with Geraldine McEwan as we go back a long way in terms of our professional lives. And Ken Russell! I've never worked with Ken before. It's marvellous.
I just love Geraldine's tenderness as Miss Marple. You just know there is a love story there somewhere. But with any part, it is never truly yours. It's like a house - even if you've bought it, you haven't really, as once you move out the building is still there. You borrow it.
Agatha Christie is wonderful in the way she just draws the lives of people and it's not over explained. I think she writes a bit like her life - we know nothing about Agatha Christie, she's a complete mystery. Who was she? What happened to her? I don't know all her books, I've just read a couple of them. I'm just intrigued by her. She is in everything she writes. It's like soap operas or Greek tragedy. It's being able to see the secret life of people. Like Big Brother, only more interesting!
Frances's credits include:
Film: The History Boys, Rising Damp, The Cherry Orchard, Love Actually, Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire
Television: Poirot: Death On The Nile, Waking The Dead, Born And Bred, The Egg, Tom Jones, Cold Lazarus, Downwardly Mobile, Genghis Cohen, Every Silver Lining, Stay Lucky, Bejewelled, All Good Men, Duet for One, A Kind of Living, Rising Damp
Theatre: The History Boys, Dance of Death, The Good Hope, Fallen Angels, Antony & Cleopatra, The
Forest, The Play About The Baby, Blinded By The Sun, The Fire Raisers, Three Tall Women, King Lear
Ken Russell plays Reverend Caleb Dane Calthrop in The Moving Finger
Caleb Dane Calthrop is an eccentric vicar, who probably did the murder! Or am I a red herring?! I think the other villagers are quite scared of him to be honest. I'm hoping they are going to put into the script a part where he condemns the village and the villagers as a cesspool of evil and sinners! The villagers trust him as far as they can throw him. Everyone is a suspect in Lymstock - it is a village of very dodgy folk and he is one of the dodgiest! He is so obviously up to something dodgy that he must be innocent. It's the innocent ones who must be guilty!
I think we all like dressing up and pretending, it's like when we were children. But the other day I did slip up and shouted 'cut!' Everyone was most shocked!
I just think Geraldine McEwan is absolutely top-notch. I've followed her work across the years. I think the other Miss Marple's were a bit too straight for me! The whole cast is wonderful.
Ken's credits include:
Film (as Director):Hot Pants: 3 Sexy Shorts, Women In Love, Altered States, Music Lovers, Charged: The Life of Nikola Tesla, Kings X, Crimes of Passion, Lion's Mouth, Mindbender, Tommy, Mahler, Lisztomania, Valentino, Savage Messiah, The Boy Friend, The Devils, Liar of the White Worm, The Whore, Salome's Last Dance, Fall of the House of Usher
Film (as Actor):
Colour Me Kubrick, Fall of the House of Usher, Lion's Mouth
McEwan is a highly intelligent craftswoman with considerable sensibility about the form in which she works. She's one of those actors who create their own time and space in each scene, giving them more scope to express themselves.
THE AGE - MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA February 19, 2006
Australian TV drama continues to lose its heroes. Is there something we can learn from Belgium's most famous detective? Brian Courtis investigates ...
When Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot returned to a television culture imbued with the spirits of vampire-slayers, forensic pathologists, cool spooks and counter-terrorist agents, the greatest mystery was never going to be so much whodunnit but how long Agatha Christie's well-heeled sleuths could keep us interested.
Nobody had a clue these seemingly exhausted parlour-room private eyes would be revitalised then returned to us in a series of beautifully shot, finely detailed and amusingly performed highbrow thrillers. And, after many years of cruel and unusual punishment on TV, Christie's characters have finally received the sort of treatment they've needed.
Much of the credit for for the revival of Christie TV is due to two remarkable actors. In the Marple series, it is Geraldine McEwan, and in this week's Poirot classic, David Suchet.
Not only have they brought dizzying nuances to the parts, but they have attracted a Who's Who of small-screen stars to the cameo roles. The two separate shows teem with top talent, almost rivalling each other in a game that can distract from the stories and crimes.
Much of the credit for for the revival of Christie TV is due to two remarkable actors. In the Marple series, it is Geraldine McEwan, and in this week's Poirot classic, David Suchet.
..... Unlike the literary character, McEwan's Marple evokes pleasure and affection, no slightly dotty old woman who just happens to be in the right place at the right time.
McEwan said, just after beginning to shoot the first series, that she wanted to extract Marple from "the whole tweedy, village spinster on a bicycle image".
Her Marple is a quietly remarkable woman, almost clairvoyant at times, fascinated by things mysterious and strange, someone who sees life and people in colours always slightly at variance with reality. "Nothing, er, odd?" she constantly questions. She's a bit flirty, attractive; too, at 72, in her soft pastel knitwear. The early scripts imbued her with a slightly racy past, suggesting a failed relationship with a married man.
She's like Christie, really. You are aware of her, eyes sparkling, letting her puppets out of a box, drawing a ring around them to represent the stage on which she will allow them to perform, putting them through their paces, then returning them to their container.
It's a luminous performance that acknowledges that all of us have a passion equally for concealment and revelation. "Do you really want to wake up the past?" Marple asks Gwenda, with her timelessly seductive voice. "Who knows what we might find."
She cleverly embodies the saving grace of Christie's scantily characterised novels: that no matter how seemingly trustworthy, all of us can have a secret life, capable even of murderous betrayal. As with Christie the writer, McEwan is a highly intelligent craftswoman with considerable sensibility about the form in which she works. She's one of those actors who create their own time and space in each scene, giving them more scope to express themselves.
She gives Marple a just-withheld sense of delight, almost sexual, that suggests although the detective story, in which she finds herself a character, is itself ephemeral, the attraction of the riddle is eternal.
"What, Miss Marple, still sleuthing?" says Chief Inspector Primer at the film's start, when she coaxes him to reopen the case. "Can't stand an unsolved mystery, can we?"
No, we can't. The Australian, 3.7.07 Graeme Blundell
TOWARDS ZERO, the first film in Series 3 has completed filming. The cast includes Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Julie Graham (William & Mary), Paul Nicholls (EastEnders), Julian Sands (24), Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek) and Dame Eileen Atkins.
NEMESIS - Filming completed.
AT BERTRAM'S HOTEL - filming conpleted. Guest stars include Francesca Annis (Reckless), Stephen Mangan (Green Wing) and Martine McCutcheon (Love Actually)
ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE - filming has completed. Guest stars include: Juliet Stevenson and Julian Rhind-Tutt
LONDON - 'Agatha Christie's Marple', starring Geraldine McEwan, attracted 5.5m viewers on ITV to win the prime time slot.
The episode, based on Christie's novel 'Towards Zero' and the penultimate outing for McEwan before Julia McKenzie takes over, netted a 23.8% share of the audience between 8pm and 10pm.