It’s probable that Joan Hickson’s portrayal would have met with approval from the author. When she appeared in a 1946 stage production of her Poirot novel Appointment with Death, Christie sent Hickson a note, saying "I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple." The Miss Marple connection doesn’t end there – Hickson had a minor role in the film Murder, She Said starring Margaret Rutherford as the detective.
The journey from novel to screen was not a smooth one, however. During her lifetime, Christie was far from happy with film versions of her work and according to her grandson Matthew Pritchard (who handled her estate after her death) she didn’t care much for television. Fortunately, LWT had recently had some success with adaptations of Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, The Seven Dials Mystery and Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime series (from Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence novels). The popularity of the latter led the BBC to secure the rights to bring the iconic character to the small screen.
The write stuff
From 1984 to 1992, all 12 Marple novels were adapted for the BBC, with Alan Plater (Z Cars, The Beiderbecke Trilogy, Flambards) and Jill Hyem (Wish Me Luck, Tenko, The House of Elliott ) two of the writers recruited to bring Christie’s work to the screen.
Spot the star
A who’s who of British drama added colour to the productions, with Paul Eddington, Peter Davison, Joan Simms, Maurice Denham, Glynis Barber and Kevin Whatley just some of the names breathing life into Christie’s characters.
Miss Marple was that rare thing, a critical and ratings success. With its memorable theme by Ken Howard, twisting plots, a depiction of a rural England long since gone and Hickson’s unbeatable performance, it’s no wonder that the series continues to enthral.
Did you know?
Nether Wallop in Hampshire was used as the location for St. Mary Mead.