Joan Hickson

About Joan Hickson

Best known for playing elderly super-sleuth Miss Marple, Joan Hickson spent decades playing dotty aunts and housewives in over 100 films. Read on for some vital clues about her life.

The young Joan

Born in Northamptonshire in 1906, Joan first showed an interest in acting when she was just five years old. She saw a local production of Cinderella, and was so overwhelmed she barely spoke for days, except to announce that she must go and live next door to the theatre so that she could act whenever she liked. She was later to spend three years at RADA, and made her stage debut aged 20.

Agatha Christie approved

Joan was destined for the part of Miss Marple of St Mary Mead. She had a minor role in the 1961 Miss Marple film, Murder She Said, in which the lead role was played by Margaret Rutherford, whose comic performance was not appreciated by Agatha Christie. Christie saw Joan on set and said to her: "Some day I would like you to play my Miss Marple."

Half a Century

Joan's film career spanned over 50 years. Her first film was the 1937 thriller Love from a Stranger, starring Basil Rathbone, which was based on an Agatha Christie story. Her last was Century in 1993, directed by Stephen Poliakoff and co-starring Charles Dance.

Broadway star

Softly spoken Joan might seem an unlikely Broadway star, but she won a Tony Best Play Actress Award in 1979 for her performance in A Bedroom Farce, by Alan Ayckbourn. She took the role of Delia, a part she had also played at the National Theatre in London.

Worldwide fame

Joan achieved worldwide fame with the 12 episodes of Miss Marple in which she starred between 1984 and 1992. It has been shown in 30 countries, including China and the former Soviet Union. With David Suchet who played Christie's other world-famous sleuth, Poirot, Joan was joint president of The Agatha Christie Society until her death in 1998.

Carry On Joan In contrast to her role as the quiet, gentle Miss Marple, Hickson appeared in a number of Carry On films. She is an aristocratic drunk in Constable, an officious sister in Nurse, a matron in Regardless and an overprotective mother in Loving.