New Miss Marple actress gets fresh start at 68

Tue Sep 1, 2009 12:27pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Not many actresses get a career-changing chance at 68.

For Julia McKenzie, already a successful stage and TV performer, it came when she was chosen as British television's new Miss Marple, Agatha Christie's famous amateur detective.

The new series, to be broadcast on the commercial ITV channel from September 6, has already been shown in the United States, Canada and Ireland, underlining the international appeal of one of Christie's best-loved creations.

At home, though, critical attention is likely to be at its most intense, with McKenzie seeking to fill the shoes of previous popular interpreters like Margaret Rutherford, Joan Hickson and, most recently, Geraldine McEwan.

"It's the prize," McKenzie said of her high-profile role.

"And to come at this time in my career, which normally is tailing off," she said in a recent interview. "I would have retired, I think, because I don't want to end up saying 'The carriage awaits'.

"It's a funny thing about acting, you know, when you get the part and you're my age, you drop 10 years like that. Acting makes you feel young again."

McKenzie learned she had got the part while on holiday in New Zealand.   Continued...