Saturday, 31 January 2015

RIP Geraldine McEwan

Another sad loss to the entertainment world has been announced; the actress Geraldine McEwan has passed away at the age of 82.

McEwan had been unwell for some time as a result of a stroke in October last year. It's really sad news especially as for me, and anyone of my generation, she gave two splendid scary performances in 1990 and 1991 respectively; the domineering devoutly religious mother in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit for which she won a BAFTA (pictured below) and the delightfully creepy pantoesque witch and mother to Alan Rickman's Sheriff in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

As I grew older I experienced more of her work including Mapp and Lucia, The Magdalene Sisters, Marple, Mulberry and the TV adaptation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

But its perhaps her performance in Oranges...that has stayed with me the most. I'll just copy and paste my review of the DVD release from Amazon to explain why;

I was about ten or maybe eleven when Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit was broadcast on BBC2. With a Dad that worked nights, my Mum for some reason allowed me to watch it alone with her, despite its (some would say) raunchy subject matter.

Back then BBC Drama was peerless, and there are many programmes of that time that I have had the pleasure of discovering anew, or indeed have remained with me to this day.

Oranges, is one of them.

I recently purchased the DVD to watch it again for the first time in 20 years, the first time since I was 10, and its uncanny how much I can remember from that first viewing. Just the opening bars of that haunting theme tune transported me back to 1989 and sent the hairs up on the back of my neck.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is a story that will stay with you, and a superior drama that once seen is never forgotten. I am proof of that, and I'm glad my Mum would allow me to sample such things even at a young age. I suppose it's made me who I am.

Hilarious (its laced with wonderful North West wit and observation) gripping, poignant and touching, with superb performances all round - in particular the lovely and talented Charlotte Coleman, who died far too young - it deserves your attention.



  1. Dear Geraldine was often referred to as the poor man's Maggie Smith, maybe because she reprised some of Smith's roles like Miss Brodie and in the play Lettuce & Lovage, but Geraldine was a unique talent and sad to see her depart soon after that other great British actress Billie Whtelaw, also 82. I will have to dust down my Mapp & Lucia boxset, as she was Lucia for me - and of course we long remember her in Oranges are Not The Only Fruit, The Magdalene Sisters where she was that terrifying mother superior, and yes, I loved her witch in the Costner Robin Hood. I did not care for her Miss Marple though, they were dreadful versions of the originals, over-stuffed with cameo roles, but McEwan had a long career on stage (playing with the likes of Olivier, Richardson, Gielgud) and television. Au Reservoir indeed!

    1. I must confess I never bothered with the Marple adaptations myself. You can't beat Joan Hickson. I actually think in some respects she was a better Jean Brodie than Maggie Smith