Miss Marple

I love an English murder mystery or a bonnet drama on a Sunday night. Preferably on the ABC. (They don’t seem to work with commercial breaks.)

This is my favourite Miss Marple: Geraldine McEwan.

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She has a lovely, wry, knowing smile. She appears physically fragile and vulnerable but uses this approach knowingly to her advantage. By appearing as a delicate, innocuous old lady who is no threat to anyone, she is able to observe and think. Her eyes don’t miss a trick. But others don’t notice her. She can ask nosey questions. After all, that is expected of old ladies. And it is this apparent dichotomy that is at the core of her appeal; an old lady who has led a sheltered life but who solves the most violent of crimes. Ms McEwan’s portrayal gets this.

Ms McEwan’s characterisation reminds me of the Miss Marple short stories, The Tuesday Night Club where the villagers are each going to tell a mystery story. They initially leave Miss Marple out. Like many old women, she has become invisible. What would she have experienced? What would she know? Of course, she solves all the mysteries. The point being, Miss Marple is old worldly but worldly wise, fragile but not feeble-minded. She appears to be a sweet and naive old lady but has an understanding of the dark side of human nature, shaking her head at the naivety of others. Above all, she has to be old.

I like this one too: Joan Hickson.

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But I don’t rally like this one (though I watch the show anyway): Julia McKenzie.

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Too Murder She Wroteish. Too much like Angela Lansbury. She is too young, too agile. I also think the scripts are not as good. Were they made quickly and without care as they know they have a ready market?

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