There’s A New Miss Marple in Town!

July 17th, 2009

I lead a very exciting life.  Very, very, very exciting.  It is probably too exciting for most people to bear.  If you suffer at all from any sort of nervous disorder, you may want to stop reading this post right now.

Lately, the most exciting thing that has happened to me has been watching the new Agatha Christie mysteries online.  Did you know that you can watch them online?  I told you my life was exciting!  You can watch them at this link here.  It’s free, but the various episodes are only up for a few weeks at a time.  


In other very exciting breaking news….

In the new PBS Mystery series, there is a new actress playing Miss Marple!

Are you still with me?  

I hope you didn’t pass out from all the excitement!

Julia McKenzie was chosen to play Miss Marple after Geraldine McEwan announced her retirement.  


Over the course of film history, at least seven different English speaking actresses have played the role of Miss Marple.  (There have been a few Miss Marples in other countries as well.)  Gracie Fields, Helen Hayes, and Angela Lansbury were three of them.


Margaret Rutherford played a memorable Miss Marple in some comic adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels.  Agatha herself, hated these goofy versions, but later became a personal friend of Rutherford.




Joan Hickson played the role of Miss Marple for the longest period of time from 1984 to 1992.  All twelve Miss Marple stories were eventually filmed starring Hickson.  Joan’s Marple was penetrating, observant, and almost searing.  Her outfits never varied much from the gray tweed and simple hat.  The interesting part of Hickson’s Marple was the deliberate delivery and the way you could almost hear her brain grinding the characters into pulpy clues as she sat quietly knitting and observing everyone who passed her way.





After Hickson, Geraldine McEwan took on the role.  Her take on the character was far more feminine and friendly including more lace, more color, and more curls in her hair.  McEwan’s voice is higher, her gait is more lively, she has a sort of perpetually pleased look about her.  Her vast knowledge of human behavior truly seems to come out of left field as McEwan’s Miss Marple is more reminiscent of Mary Poppins than it is of Sherlock Holmes.  





Julia McKenzie is the latest actress to give Marple her own unique spin.  Clad in a sensible grey suit, she definitely reaches back towards Hickson’s Marple in her appearance, but her open demeanor is more like McEwan’s.  I’ve only seen one of the new Agatha Christie’s at this point, and am still smarting from both the exit of Hickson and McEwan.  I suppose after a while I will learn to accept this new Marple, but I do hate to start all over again!  I suppose in my heart, it will always be Joan Hickson who is the ultimate Miss Marple.  She is the one I watched first, and something about her seems just right to me, though I learned to love Geraldine’s Marple too and her outfits are unsurpassed in the world of elderly woman detective fashion.  

Speaking of elderly woman detective fashion…

Who’s up for a Miss Marple fashion show?


Here we have Joan Hickson sporting plain brown hat and plain brown jacket…

Only her sparkling blue eyes betray any sort of superior powers underneath that prim and austere exterior.



Julia McKenzie sports a humble grey jacket, minimal jewelry, and hat with only the most simple of trimmings.  It is a bit more flash than Hickson, but not much…





Comparitively, Geraldine is all about the flash.  





Extraordinary flash…





Shocking flash…






We better get back to Joan Hickson in plain brown hat and plain brown jacket to calm ourselves back down.


I told you that it was exciting around here!

Now off with you!

Go watch the new Agatha Christies for free on  

And just try and get your heart to slow down and beat normally when you are done!


  • ginny:

    Joan Hickson is Miss Marple………Miss Marple is Joan Hickson….enough said.

  • Vickie:

    I just watched my first Miss Marple (with Julia McKenzie) and loved it. So I’ll be checking out all of the older ones.
    And yes, this is exciting stuff! (See the exclamation mark?)

  • Ruth:

    I too saw the new Miss Marple, and enjoyed it very much. For me Joan Hickson is Miss Marple-I just loved her.

  • ms martyr:

    Joan Hickson gets my vote just as David Suchet is the ultimate Hercule Poiroit.

  • Kait:

    I must say I am quite enjoying the new Miss Marple, she is as cute as a button. However I would have loved a few more episodes of Poirot. David Suchet is my fav Hercule of all time.
    Can’t get enough of my British mysteries. If they stopped airing those my TV would become a black dusty empty box. :)

  • Shelley:

    I’m glad Miss Marple is on, although I was partial to the prior actress. Either way, there is something so comforting about watching an Agatha Christie mystery on a Sunday evening…I just love it!

  • becky up the hill:

    Honestly, I was so excited about the New Miss Marples. Then when I saw Matthew Macfadyen (of Little Dorrit fame), on the first one..even more thrilled..then I lost the plot after 15 minutes. It was the same for the 2nd one. I resigned myself to enjoy the period clothes, scenery and lovely gardens.

  • All the Miss Marples rock – apart from Angela Lansbury, perhaps.. just couldn’t get over an American Miss Marples!

    Am I allowed to say that here?


  • Shelley:

    Hi Lady Fi,
    Angela..whom I was named after thanks to my parents’ love of British films…is actually British not American!! Besides, I don’t think anyone is offended! We still love her!

  • Kathleen:

    All the episodes that have been on this month are excellent. Somewhat different from the books but extremely well done. I’ve been very impressed.

  • Mafair:

    I was so sad to see Geraldine McEwen had retired! She made the stories SPARKLE. I’m sad to say the new ones don’t have that sparkle, but I’m willing to keep watching and hopefully that warm friendly, charming, gentile character will connect with the new Miss Marple. She seems to stoic and intruding instead of being welcomed wherever she goes.

  • Cyril:

    Has anybody noticed that both McEwan and McKenzie versions of Agatha Christie novels have had their total plots changed? Or is it just me? Characters left out, characters invented, characters put in plots they don’t belong in. Why have I seen nobody wondering at this? Have Christie’s family given the OK for this? Who writes them and who says its ok to mess with Christie’s work in such a manner?

    Is it new writers riding on the back of Christie to write stuff of their own and get it accepted.Or are we not allowed to ask such questions?

    Best regards,
    A total Agatha Christie fan. Cyril.

  • Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple will always be the ultimate. One, because JH reminded Dame Agatha herself of the Miss M she envisioned in the books, and two, the Hickson series was more faithful to them than any other film adaptation. Surely, the Christie family can’t be approving mixing up characters and rewriting AC’s plots, unless of course, they’re only concerned with making money now. If so, how very sad.

  • I’m with Ginny.

    As to who’s allowing the dreadful changes (and, in my opinion, the dreadful casting since Joan Hickson’s departure), now that Agatha Christie’s only child has passed, there is no one but her only grandchild to say yeah or nay. And, lately, with him, anything goes. In concord with Joanna I say: How very sad.

    • Rechelle:

      Meg and Ginny – I agree – the new Miss Marples were not very much fun. I think they were trying to be viciously modern with extra sex and violence… you know… because the average PBS viewer just lives for vicious sex and violence.

  • Can’t say I’ve seen enough Marple to tell. Love the books, but with strange, unpredictable PBS scheduling, I’ve probably only seen one or two Miss Marple shows. Great to hear they’re online. Thanks for the link. I’ll probably watch.

    I’m more into Castle right now, which also involves a mystery writer and murder.

  • Debbie:

    You just cannot beat the original and the best ‘Miss Marple’ Margaret Rutherford. I watched her with my grandmother when i was a little girl, she will always be the benchmark for all those to come after her. thankfully many have lived up to the task. If you can watch some of the those classics, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.