Joan Hickson

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Joan Hickson

Joan Hickson.jpg
Hickson as Miss Marple
Joan Bogle Hickson [1]

(1906-08-05)5 August 1906
Died17 October 1998(1998-10-17) (aged 92)
Colchester, Essex, England
Years active1927–1993
Eric Butler
(m. 1932;died 1967)
Awards Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
1979 Bedroom Farce

Joan Bogle Hickson, OBE (5 August 1906 – 17 October 1998) was an English actress of theatre, film and television. She was known for her role as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the television series Miss Marple . She also narrated a number of Miss Marple stories on audiobooks.



Born in Kingsthorpe, Northampton, Hickson was a daughter of Edith Mary (née Bogle) and Alfred Harold Hickson, a shoe manufacturer. After boarding at Oldfield School in Swanage, Dorset, she went on to train at RADA in London. [2] She made her stage debut in 1927, then worked for several years throughout the United Kingdom, achieving success playing comedic, often eccentric characters in the West End of London. She played the role of the cockney maid Ida in the original production of See How They Run at the Q Theatre in 1944, and then at the Comedy Theatre in January 1945. [3]

She made her first film appearance in 1934. The numerous supporting roles she played during her career included several in Carry On films, notably Sister in Carry On Nurse and Mrs May in Carry On Constable .

In the 1940s she appeared on stage in Appointment with Death , a play by Agatha Christie, who wrote in a note to her, "I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple." [4]

In 1961 Hickson played the housekeeper in the film Murder, She Said , based on Agatha Christie's novel 4.50 From Paddington and starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. From 1963 to 1966 Hickson played Mrs Peace, housekeeper to the Reverend Stephen Young, played by Donald Sinden, in the highly rated TV series Our Man at St Mark's . From 1970 to 1971 she played Mrs Pugsley in Bachelor Father . She also played Mrs Chambers in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? . In 1986 she played the part of Mrs Trellis in the film Clockwise.

Her stage career included roles in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit , the musical The Card (1975), adapted by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent from the novel by Arnold Bennett; and Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce , for which she won a 1979 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. In 1980 she appeared as Mrs Rivington in Why Didn't They Ask Evans? , yet another production based on a novel by Agatha Christie.

The BBC began filming the works of Agatha Christie in the mid-1980s, and set out to remain faithful to the plotlines and locales of Christie's stories, and to represent Miss Marple as written. Hickson played the role of Miss Marple in all 12 adaptations, which were produced from 1984 to 1992; she received two BAFTA nominations for Best TV Actress, in 1987 and 1988. When the OBE was bestowed on Hickson in June 1987 [5] Queen Elizabeth II was reported to have said, "You play the part just as one envisages it." [6] When Hickson retired from the role, believing that she should stop while the programme was still at the peak of its popularity, she stated that she had no intention of retiring from acting altogether. [7]


Number 2, Rose Lane, Wivenhoe Rose Lane, Wivenhoe, Essex-3591155233.jpg
Number 2, Rose Lane, Wivenhoe

From 1958, Hickson lived in Rose Lane, Wivenhoe, along the River Colne 43 miles (69 kilometres) from London in Essex, until her death in 1998. A plaque now marks the house where she lived for 40 years. [8]


Hickson married Dr Eric Norman Butler (born 2 September 1902 in Westbury, Wiltshire), a physician, at Hampstead Parish Church, Hampstead, Northwest London, on 29 October 1932. They had two children. [9] Her husband died in Colchester, Essex, in June 1967. [10]


Hickson died in Colchester General Hospital from a stroke, aged 92. [11] [12] She is interred under her married name, Joan Bogle Butler, at Sidbury Cemetery in Devon.

The Miss Marple series (BBC)

Series 1

Series 2

Stand-alone feature length episodes

Partial filmography

1934 Trouble in Store MabelShort
1935 Widow's Might Burroughs
1936 The Man Who Could Work Miracles Effie
1937 Love from a Stranger Emmy
The Lilac Domino Katrina, school dustmaid
1938 Second Thoughts Ellen
1940 Sailors Don't Care Woman Carried AshoreUncredited
1941 Freedom Radio Katie
1943 The Saint Meets the Tiger Mary (Aunt Agatha's Maid)Uncredited
1944 Don't Take It to Heart Mrs Pike
1945 The Rake's Progress Miss Parker
1946 The Trojan Brothers Ada
I See a Dark Stranger Manx Hotel Manageress
1947 So Well Remembered MotherUncredited
1948 This Was a Woman Miss Johnson
Just William's Luck Hubert's Mother
Bond Street Blanche – SeamstressUncredited
The Guinea Pig Mrs Read
It's Hard to Be Good Mending WomanUncredited
1949 Marry Me! Mrs Pearson
Don't Ever Leave Me Mrs PearsonUncredited
Celia Mrs Haldane
1950 Seven Days to Noon Mrs Peckett
The Magnet Mrs Ward
1951 Hell Is Sold Out Hortense, the housekeeper
High Treason Mrs Ellis
The Magic Box Mrs Stukely
1952 Blind Man's Bluff Mrs Kipps
The Card Mrs Codleyn
The Tall Headlines Waitress
Curtain Up Harry's Landlady
No Haunt for a GentlemanMme Omskaya
Hindle Wakes Mrs Hawthorn
1953 Deadly Nightshade Mrs Fenton
Shoot First Woman Station Announcer
Sailor of the King Hotel ManagerUncredited
Love in Pawn Woman in Telephone BoxUncredited
1954 The Million Pound Note MaggieUncredited
Doctor in the House Mrs Groaker
The House Across the Lake Mrs Hardcastle
What Every Woman Wants Polly Ann
Dance, Little Lady Mrs Matthews
The Crowded Day Mrs Jones
To Dorothy a Son Pub LandladyUncredited
Mad About Men Mrs Forster
1955 As Long as They're Happy Barmaid
Doctor at Sea Mrs Thomas
Value for Money Mrs Perkins
The Woman for Joe Publican's WifeUncredited
A Time to Kill Miss Edinger
Simon and Laura Barmaid
An Alligator Named Daisy Piano CustomerUncredited
1956 Lost PharmacistUncredited
Jumping for Joy Lady Emily Cranfield
The Man Who Never Was Landlady
Port of Escape Rosalie Watchett
The Extra Day Mrs West
The Last Man to Hang Mrs Prynne
Child in the House Cook
1957 Carry On Admiral Mother
No Time for Tears Sister Duckworth
Barnacle Bill Mrs Kent
1958 Happy Is the Bride Mrs Bowels
Law and Disorder Aunt Florence
Chain of Events Barmaid
Behind the Mask LadyUncredited
The Horse's Mouth Woman in queue at Tate GalleryUncredited
1959 Carry On Nurse Sister
The 39 Steps Miss Dobson
Upstairs and Downstairs Rosemary
Please Turn Over Saleswoman
1960 Doctor in Love NurseUncredited
The 3 Worlds of Gulliver Patient at Dr Gulliver's SurgeryUncredited
Carry On Constable Mrs May
No Kidding Cook
Carry On Regardless Head Matron
1961 His and Hers Phoebe
Raising the Wind Mrs Bostwick
Murder, She Said Mrs Kidder
1962 Crooks Anonymous Lady
In the Doghouse Miss Gibbs
I Thank a Fool Landlady
1963 Nurse on Wheels Mrs Wood
Heavens Above! Housewife
1965 The Secret of My Success Mrs Pringle
1968 Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter Landlady
1970 Carry On Loving Mrs Grubb
1971 Friends Lady in Bookstore
1972 A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Grace
1973 Theatre of Blood Mrs Sprout
Carry On Girls Mrs Dukes
1974 Confessions of a Window Cleaner Mrs Radlett
1975 One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing Mrs Gibbons
1979 Yanks Mrs Moody
1982 Gandhi Woman in courtUncredited
1983 The Wicked Lady Aunt Agatha
1986 Clockwise Mrs Trellis
1990 King of the Wind Duchess of Marlborough
1993 Century Mrs WhitweatherFinal film role

Partial television credits

1946The Corn is GreenMrs WattyTV Movie
1947Busman's HoneymoonMiss TwittertonTV Movie
1950Over the OddsMabel PhelpsTV Movie
1956 David Copperfield Miss Lavinia Spenlow3 episodes
1958 The Invisible Man Madame DupontEpisode: "The Mink Coat"
1960 Barnaby Rudge Mrs Varden10 episodes
1963 BBC Sunday-Night Play Edith SwinneyEpisode: "How to Get Rid of Your Wife"
1963-66 Our Man at St Mark's Mrs Peace46 episodes
1964 Thursday Theatre Mrs JenkinsEpisode: "The Cure for Love"
1969 Sinister Street Mrs Cleghorne3 episodes
Oh, Brother! Mother JoanEpisode: "A Mother in Israel"
1970 Bachelor Father Mrs Pugsley8 episodes
From a Bird's Eye View Hilda TuttleEpisode: "Family Tree"
1972 ITV Saturday Night Theatre Mrs Hope-RisingEpisode: "Just in Time for Christmas"
1975 Within These Walls Edna DewfallEpisode: "A Free Woman"
1976 Happy Ever After Mrs HendersonEpisode: "Old Folks' Party"
1981 Great Expectations Miss Havisham
1983 The Outsider Lillian WrathdaleEpisode: "The Homecoming"
1984 Poor Little Rich Girls Lady Harriet5 episodes
1985 Time for Murder Miss WainwrightEpisode: "Mister Clay, Mister Clay"
1989 Boon DellaEpisode: "One Reborn Every Minute"

Related Research Articles

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  2. "Joan Hickson – RADA".
  3. "Hickson [married name Butler], Joan Bogle (1906–1998), actress : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – oi" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/71118. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2019.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. Haining, Peter. Agatha Christie – Murder in Four Acts (Page 140). 1990. Virgin Books. ISBN   1-85227-273-2
  5. "No. 50948". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1987. p. 9.
  6. Deacon, Michael (22 September 2007). "Checking in to murder". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  7. Alexandra Younger and Tom Vallance. "Obituary: Joan Hickson | Culture". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 July 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  8. Essex – December 2016, retrieved 2 February 2017
  9. England & Wales, Birth Index 1916–2005
  10. England & Wales, Death Index, 1967
  11. "Miss Marple actress dies at 92". BBC. 18 October 1998. Archived from the original on 12 October 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  12. Lyall, Sarah (20 October 1998). "Joan Hickson, Miss Marple on TV, Dies at 92". The New York Times . Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2010.