BEFORE THE success of the television series, Joan Hickson had been one of the most reliable and contented of small-part players on stage and screen, with a gallery of prying landladies, doting mothers, sniffy housekeepers, eccentric aunts and awesome mothers-in-law.
Few actresses knew better how to keep a large residue of ash on the end of a cigarette in the corner of the mouth while berating (often in a dressing gown) a sullen lodger.
A GENTLEWOMAN who should have been put out to grass in a nursing home on the Sussex Costa Geriatrica decades ago, Joan showed a steely side to her character that could never be deflected from what was, episode after episode, an unerring progress to the heart of the crime under consideration. It was a role which was a far cry from most of those which had provided the staple of her work up to that point. But no one was more professionally adroit... her gift was by no means limited to one type of part.
JOAN BECAME the face of Jane Marple 50 years after author Agatha Christie decided she would be perfect for the role. Joan was so comfortable with the trademark straw hat and handbag that friends nicknamed her Miss M. She put her long life down to a nightly tot of whisky, but she will be remembered for her final words... "More tea, vicar?"
TO MILLIONS, the veteran character actress simply was Miss Marple. Joan Hickson's middle-class background, slight build and low-key, though sharp- eyed, aura of dignity and confidence made her ideal for the role. Certainly Agatha Christie agreed.Reuse content