Here’s why the BBC is wrong in their current portrayal of Jane Marple. (For those who haven’t watched the new Miss Marple series, imagine a skinny Margaret Rutherford. No, I take that back; it’s a slander against Dame Margaret.)
Their new actress has her loving murder mystery stories.
Yes, that’s what turned me off about her. Jane Marple, as she reminded me in Nemesis, hates reading about murders. She really doesn’t like them, and further, isn’t really interested in crime at all. Not one bit. But why then does she seem to be in the middle of crime so often? She considers herself to be one of those people murder just happens around. Rather like one of her relatives, who had been in so many accidents (by both taxi and railway) that no one else in the family would travel with her. Murders just seemed to happen in her vicinity, and so she would get drawn in. Not by choice, but by circumstance.
I really can’t take any portrayal of Jane Marple seriously that involves her actually being interested in solving crimes. No, Joan Hickson’s portrayal may not have been perfect, but she’s miles ahead of anyone else I’ve ever seen in the role. Aunt Jane is one of my favorites, and I simply won’t watch the new series at all. To this point I had been impressed with the casting choices the BBC had made with the heroes of my youth (Suchet as Poirot and Davidson as Campion were both nothing short of inspired selections — I danced with joy when I first saw them — Petherbridge as Wimsey and Bret as Holmes took some getting used to but were brilliant, at least while Bret’s health held up, and Warwick and Annis as Tommy and Tuppence were simply wonderful) but this Jane Marple has been a serious mistake; they’ve slipped up horribly with her. It’s an even worse choice than Simon Williams as Roderick Alleyn, which they immediately rectified with Patrick Malahide, who while nowhere near perfect was a definite improvement. (OK, since my eldest daughter’s middle name is Ngaio, perhaps I can be considered a bit hard to please when it comes to Alleyn.)