Sadly the actress Geraldine McEwan died on Friday, aged 82. There are some photos from her past here. You can read her Guardian obituary here and an article by the Guardian’s theatre critic here.
She first came to my notice when she played the part of Miss Jean Brodie on TV and as far as I was concerned she got that Edinburgh accent perfectly, although someone from Edinburgh might not agree with me.
Reading those articles about her, I realise that there were so many things which she acted in on TV, but I never saw for some reason, so it looks like I’ll still have a lot of viewing to catch up on.
I’m sure it was her portrayal of Mrs Proudie in Anthony Trollope’s Barchester books which started me off reading Trollope, and I’m grateful to her for that as I love his books.
I had always wondered why Geraldine McEwan’s talents hadn’t been recognised officially, by means of a damehood, but it would seem that she was probably offered one and turned it down. That just makes me admire her even more.
If you’re interested you can watch the whole of the Barchester Chronicles on You Tube – with Spanish subtitles!
It seems like a long time ago now but what did you think of the new version of Mapp and Lucia which was on the BBC at Christmas? I was sort of half dreading watching it as I’m a big fan of E.F. Benson’s books and I adored the Channel 4 series of Mapp and Lucia which starred Geraldine McEwan and Prunella Scales as well as lots of other great actors. In the end of course I did watch the new version, to be honest there wasn’t much on TV over the holidays anyway, it was even worse than usual I think.
There were only three parts in the series and I can see that there is loads of scope for more parts to come, I suppose they were waiting to see how popular it would be. It was definitely entertaining but I couldn’t stop myself from comparing everything with the earlier series.
I suppose you could say that the Geraldine McEwan version was just a wee bit over the top, but I think that that is exactly how Mapp and Lucia should be played. The costumes in the new version weren’t as sumptuous as those of the Channel 4 series, those ones were a real treat for the eyes and the detail was wonderful, not only with the clothes but the handbags, hats and jewellery too, especially Lucia’s. Georgie in the new series is just not dapper enough, nor finicky and camp enough. ‘Quaint’ Irene has been turned into a make-up wearing masculine woman whereas she should be a tomboy of a girl who has somehow got stuck at the schoolgirl crush stage of life which some females seem to have experienced.
You can read about the making of the recent series here.
There’s a snippet from the McEwan series below and you can see some complete episodes on You Tube if you’re interested.