Great British Character Actors No.2: Margaret Rutherford

The Arts


Whether she was playing Miss Marple, Madame Arcati, a professor or a nurse, Dame Margaret Rutherford brought a unique energy to her roles, chasing baddies, climbing ladders and generally behaving like someone a fraction of her age. She didn’t appear in a West End acting role until she was in her forties. But her greatest role may have been the one they never filmed.

‘Miss Hargreaves’ by Frank Baker is about an old lady conjured from the imagination of two young men who need an alibi – until she becomes flesh and blood. It’s a funny, sinister novel recently republished by Ray Russell’s Tartarus Press, and Rutherford played the role on stage. She was due to make the film version, but sadly it didn’t happen.

6 comments on “Great British Character Actors No.2: Margaret Rutherford”

  1. Simon T says:

    They did, however, make a TV version for BBC Sunday-Night Theatre: – how I’d love to be able to see this!

  2. Anne Hill Fernie says:

    I liked M.Rutherford but she always seemed to be the same in everything she appeared in. Unlike (drum roll)…….the incomparable ROBERT NEWTON (‘Odd Man Out’; ‘Obsession’). I can see this particular thread going on forever really, I mean where do you start with great British character actors……

  3. BangBang!! says:

    Not the first person to play Miss Marple on the screen. That honour goes to Gracie Fields apparently. Can’t remember where I heard that – possibly on “Eggheads”.

  4. Fiona says:

    Yes great character actor and a hard act to follow. I just can’t get on with the latest Marple TV series. Mind you I haven’t read the books, I wonder who Agatha would have liked?

  5. Kevin Wilson says:

    One of the greats. ‘Happiest Days of Your Life’ is matched only by ‘School for Scoundrels’ in the perfection of it’s casting. Watching Sim and Rutherford together is sublime, and when you’ve got Joyce Grenfell playing the Games Mistress – one of the funniest films ever, as far as I am concerned.

  6. old West Londoner says:

    Fiona, Agatha always wanted Joan Hickson to play Miss Marple so it’s no wonder she did such a good job.

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