Credit: Shutterstock/Joan Hickson

I wasn’t beautiful, so there were lots of character roles

A prolific stage and screen star, TV’s original Miss Marple Joan Hickson made her acting debut in 1927, but wasn’t until almost 50 years later that she landed the role she became most famous for.

Joan’s first film appearance was in 1934 and by the end of her life, she had over 80 films to her name, including as crotchety housekeeper Mrs Kidder alongside Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple in Ealing comedy Murder She Said

Joan had already been spotted by Miss Marple’s creator, Agatha Christie in 1940s who wrote to her to ask to play the sleuth one day. When Joan finally took the role four decades later, she was the oldest lead actress ever given a major TV series lead. She was 78. However, her age was no bar to her providing a sparkling performance. This earned her two BAFTA nominations. Her straw hat and handbag became a trademark, as did her piercing blue gaze.

She was so lauded for her role that even Queen Elizabeth II is said to have remarked, “You play the part just as one envisages it,” as she awarded her an OBE in 1987.

Joan lies at rest in Sidbury in Devon, where fans still leave flowers for her today.