Actor known for playing Agatha Christie character in ITV series died in London’s Charing Cross hospital, her family have saidGeraldine McEwan, the actress known for playing Agatha Christie’s elderly sleuth, Miss Marple, has died at the age of 82.
She played the spinster detective Jane Marple in 12 TV shows on ITV from 2004 to 2009. But her career spanned decades on the small screen and in theatre and films, including box office hits such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring as the witch Mortiana. She won a Bafta for best actress in 1991 for her role in the TV serial of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.
Her son Greg, an actor and screenwriter, and daughter Claudia said in a statement: “Following a stroke at the end of October and a period in hospital, Geraldine McEwan passed away peacefully on 30 January. Her family would like to thank the staff at Charing Cross hospital who cared for her incredibly well.”
McEwan started work as an assistant stage manager at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, near her Berkshire home, at the age of 14. McEwan announced she was retiring from the role of Miss Marple in 2008.
She said at the time: “Of course, it is terribly disappointing to have to pass the baton on, but it has been a marvellous experience to inhabit this role for the last few years, and I am sure that my successor, whomever she may be, will thoroughly enjoy her time with the production team – and with the extraordinarily talented group of writers and actors that they come up with for each series.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work on Miss Marple since 2003, and I leave with fond memories.”
Her first stage role came in 1946 at the Theatre Royal as an attendant of Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and her West End debut was in 1951 as Christine Deed at the Vaudeville in Who Goes There!
In the late 1950s and early 1960s she spent several seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
McEwan worked with Sir Laurence Olivier, Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth Williams, Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman.
She made her directing debut in 1988 with the Renaissance Theatre Company’s touring season. In 1983 McEwan won the Evening Standard award for best actress for The Rivals and in 1991 the Bafta for her performance in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Four years later she again won the Evening Standard best actress award for The Way of the World.
McEwan was also well-known for her role as Emmeline “Lucia” Lucas in Mapp And Lucia, a television series based on three 1930s comedy of manners novels by EF Benson.
Tributes to the actress were posted on social media, with “Geraldine McEwan” trending on Twitter. Actor John Challis, who played Boycie in Only Fools And Horses, said: “Dear Geraldine McEwan – a highlight of my career working with you at the NT [National Theatre] in The Rivals. Generous and kind to all of us. God bless you.” Charlie Lawson, who plays Jim McDonald in Coronation Street, said: “The sad death of another fine actress, Geraldine McEwan, today. Check out The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Great performance.”
And the official Olivier Awards account tweeted: “Sorry to hear that actress Geraldine McEwan had died, aged 82. Our thoughts are with her friends and family. RIP.”
Emma Foster tweeted: “Sad to hear about Geraldine McEwan. Loved her as a twinkly Miss Marple.” Zeb Soanes said: “Sad to hear death of Geraldine McEwan – the best Judith Bliss in Hayfever I’ve ever seen, rolling over a sofa without spilling her whisky!”
Christine Symington tweeted: “Really sad to hear of the death of Geraldine McEwan. Wonderful Lucia and Miss Marple.”
In 1953 McEwan married Hugh Cruttwell, a former principal of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, whom she met while working at the Theatre Royal. Asked how they combined successful careers with a family life, Cruttwell was quoted as saying: “I really don’t know how we did it. Geraldine took care of it all.”