Au Reservoir, Lucia

Christopher Fowler
Lucia The press said 'Geraldine McEwan, known for playing Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, has died at Charing Cross Hospital, aged 82'. There's mention of the awards she won for the TV production of 'Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit', Sheridan's 'The Rivals' and Congreve's 'The Way Of The World'. But to me her most inhabited role was as Lucia in EF Benson's acidulous 'Mapp and Lucia'. As Michael Coveney put in in her obituary; 'She
could purr like a kitten, snap like a viper and, like Shakespeare's Bottom, roar you as gently as any sucking dove. She was a brilliant, distinctive and decisive performer'. She was also the definitive Lucia in the Granada version of 'Mapp & Lucia', in which she proved she could tease more vowels out of a couple of syllables than anyone else in the world. She always struck me as warmer and kinder than Maggie Smith. Here she is as Lucia, the epitome of rural 1920s theatricality.    


Agatha Hamilton (not verified) Sat, 31/01/2015 - 23:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Nice memorial, admin. And what a lovely clip from Mapp and Lucia. She had great style.

Terenzio (not verified) Sun, 01/02/2015 - 03:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Perhaps, given Lucia's propensity for using (I would never say she actually spoke the language) Italian words Arrivederci would be more fitting. However, this is sad news indeed. I liked her a lot. She really did make a marvelous Lucia Lucas along with Nigel Hawthorne whose performance of Georgie is priceless. I also thought her Miss. Marple had a certain je ne sais quoi, as the French would say. I adore Joan Hickson's take on the nosy old dame, but there is such a quality of fun and enjoyment in McEwan's portrayal that you don't find in the series from the 1980s. I'm not comparing them. Like abstaining from sex, alcohol, foie gras, or some other delicious delectable... it is something I don't believe in doing. I enjoy both series for very different reasons. I'm happy McEwan decided to take on the role, just
like Joan Hickson before her and that great and wonderful Margaret Rutherford before her. Still I'm happy she didn't suffer from a long and debilitating disease. She seems to have had a long and happy life with some wonderful performances for all of us to remember her by. And fortunately with technology we can watch them over and over again.

I shall now retire to the boudoir with a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (and toast a wonderful actress) and perhaps watch an episode Mapp & Lucia or even Marple.

À bientôt...the one in the gorgeous purple dressing gown and lovely velvet slippers.

Helen Martin (not verified) Sun, 01/02/2015 - 21:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I loved Mapp & Lucia and was given a copy of the complete work, together with a map of Rye showing the locations of the various buildings. My husband, on the other hand, said the accent cut right through his head and found the gestures more than slightly over the top so he had a bath and read while it was on. I enjoyed her closeups in which she broadcast what the character was thinking so clearly it was almost as if she was speaking. When she pursed her eyelids you knew there was an extremely acid comment straining to get out. A wonderful actress. And weren't the costumes in that series stunning? I have a friend with whom I will have to share this. One of the few people who could have the name Geraldine and not shrivel under it.

Brian Evans (not verified) Mon, 02/02/2015 - 10:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

.... and let's not forget her brilliant portrayal of Jean Brodie, in Scottish TV's 7 part series of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" in 1978

William (not verified) Mon, 02/02/2015 - 20:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

For me she IS Lucia (and Jean Brodie!). Re-reading the books I always picture her. The recent adaptation feels like a soap opera filtered through pantomime in comparison. But we'll always have Prunella Scales as Mapp, Nigel Hawthorne as Georgie and the magnificent Geraldine McEwan as Lucia

Peter, The Hague (not verified) Tue, 03/02/2015 - 08:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Nobody mentions McEwan's bone chilling performance as the sadistic and cruel Sister Bridget in THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (2002). You can't believe it is a same actress who gave us the haughty Lucia and the dotty Miss Marple. It was really a character you hate. Most terrifying was the velvety voice McEwan used before getting into her many sadistic rages.

Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 03/02/2015 - 22:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Our newspaper had the obit today and _did_ mention the Magdalene Sisters. The picture they used was taken within the last few years and could sit nicely over the one here. They used the word "pixie-like" which describes her haircut and certain aspects of her work but certainly not her character I think.