Joan Hickson

Joan Hickson

Infobox actor
name = Joan Hickson

birthdate = birth date|1906|8|5|df=y
birthplace = Kingsthorpe, Northampton, England
deathdate = death date and age|1998|10|17|1906|8|5|df=y
deathplace = Colchester, England
spouse = Eric Butler
tonyawards = Best Featured Actress in a Play
1979 "Bedroom Farce"

Joan Hickson OBE (5 August 1906 – 17 October 1998) was an English actress of theatre, film and television, who achieved fame in her old age playing Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the television series of the same name.


Born in Kingsthorpe, Northampton, she made her stage debut in 1927, and for several years worked throughout the United Kingdom and achieved success playing comedic, often eccentric characters in London's West End, including the role of the cockney maid Ida in the original production of "See How They Run", at the Q Theatre in 1944, and then at the Comedy Theatre in January 1945.

She made her first film appearance in 1934, and the numerous supporting roles of her career included several Carry On films including Sister in Carry On Nurse; in a wonderfully comedic moment, her character in Carry On Girls discovers that someone has played a practical joke on her, waving her underwear from a flagpole. Joan then approaches Jack Douglas, and, with impeccable timing, informs him : "Young man! I want you to take my drawers down!"

In the 1940s she appeared on-stage in an Agatha Christie play, "Appointment with Death", which was seen by Christie who wrote in a note to her, "I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple" [Haining, Peter. "Agatha Christie - Murder in Four Acts" (Page 140). 1990. Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-273-2] .

She also played the housekeeper in the Marple film "Murder, She Said" (1961), which starred Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple (based on Agatha Christie's original novel "4.50 From Paddington" - the novel was known in America as "What Mrs McGillicuddy Saw!"). From 1970 to 1971, she played Mrs Pugsley in "Bachelor Father". In 1986, she played the part of a talkative old lady called Mrs Trellis in "Clockwise".

Her stage career included roles in Noël Coward's "Blithe Spirit", the Tony Hatch-Jackie Trent 1975 musical "The Card", and Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce", for which she won a 1979 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play'.

In 1980 she appeared in yet another Agatha Christie production, as Mrs. Rivington in "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?".

The BBC began filming the works of Agatha Christie in the early 1980s, and were conscious of the criticism that had been levelled at the most famous portrayal of Miss Marple given by Margaret Rutherford. Though admired, Rutherford's Marple bore little resemblance to the character as written, and the plots of the early Christie film versions varied sharply from the author's carefully constructed plotlines.

In making a new series, the makers determined to remain faithful to the plotlines and locales of Christie's stories, and most importantly to represent Miss Marple as written. Hickson played the role in all 12 adaptations of the novels produced from 1984 to 1992, and received two BAFTA nomination and an OBE. Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the award and was delighted to do so, telling Joan that, as an ardent fan of Miss Marple, "You play the part just as one envisages it." The Queen has always been a fan of Agatha Christie - she invited the writer to dine at Buckingham Palace in about 1954, and Christie said it was one of the most exciting things that had ever happened to her [Christie, Agatha. "An Autobiography" (Page 321). Collins, 1977. ISBN 0-00-216012-9] .

As well as portraying Miss Marple on television, Hickson also narrated a number of "Miss Marple" stories on audio books.

Hickson died in Colchester, England of natural causes at the age of 92.

The actor Tony Hickson is a distant relation.

Miss Marple filmography

*"The Body in the Library" (1984)
*"The Moving Finger" (1985)
*"A Murder is Announced" (1985)
*"A Pocket Full of Rye" (1985)
*"The Murder at the Vicarage" (1986) - BAFTA nomination
*"Sleeping Murder" (1987)
*"At Bertram's Hotel" (1987)
*"Nemesis" (1987) - BAFTA nomination
*"4.50 from Paddington" (1987)
*"A Caribbean Mystery" (1989)
*"They Do It With Mirrors" (1991)
*"The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side" (1992)

Partial filmography

* "Doctor at Sea" (1955)
* "Value for Money" (1955)
* "Port of Escape" (1956)
* "The Extra Day" (1956)
* "Carry on Admiral" (1957)
* "No Kidding" (1960)

Carry on Girls 1973


External links

* [ Performances by Joan Hickson in the Archive of the University of Bristol]

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