WCW: Geraldine McEwan


Geraldine McEwan was one of those dozen or so British actors that seemed to be in every historical film I watched growing up. I will always remember her best as Alice, the lady-in-waiting in Kenneth Brannagh’s Henry V who teaches Princess Catherine a few choice English words (“de fangres, d’elboh, de hahnds…”), but her career spanned almost 60 years of film, television, and stage, encompassing a wide range of roles from serious to comedic. She passed away in 2015, leaving behind a rich legacy on film.


Dance of Death (1969)

Check out that Madame X gown…


The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (1976)

This movie is a whole thing … I’ve tried sitting through it more than once. I think you had to have been there in the 1970s to really appreciate the over-the-top levels of camp.


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1978)


The Barchester Chronicles (1982)

This actually looks like something I’d seriously watch, what with Alan Rickman in the cast.

The Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope – BBC TV series Geraldine McEwan as Mrs. Proudie.


Mapp & Lucia (1985-1986)

Trystan beat me to the review on this one, but this classic British series was remade a few years ago, so there may still be a chance…

Mapp & Lucia (1985)


Henry V (1989)

The film that altered a huge chunk of my adolescence and inspired me to become the crazy-pants historical costume critic I am today.


Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

The other film that inspired me to become the inveterate snark that I am when it comes to crap medieval flicks, though I’ve mellowed a lot on this one over the intervening decades.

In large part due to Alan Rickman being such a fucking stud.


Moses (1995)


Love’s Labour Lost (2000)

Shakespeare retold as a 1930s musical, I mean, ok, sure, why not.


The Magdalene Sisters (2002)

Evil nun is evil. Really, truly evil.



Vanity Fair (2004)

We were kind of mixed in our opinion of this remake, if I recall correctly. It does, however, stand out in my mind for being one of the only films featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers in it that doesn’t make me want to punch him in his smarmy face.


Marple (2004-2007)



What’s your favorite historical costume movie or TV role of Geraldine McEwan’s?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

18 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Mrs. Prouty wife of the bishop in Barcester Chronicles alongside Susan Hampshire, Alan Rickman, Donald Pleasance, Nigel Hawthorne.

  2. Mary

    Do watch Barchester! I loved it when it was first aired, so I hope a repeat viewing will hold up. The show inspired me to read all the Barchester books, so that’s a plus.

  3. Cheryl from Maryland

    Mrs. Proudie for the win! Alan Rickman in his breakout TV role. Aso full episodes for free on Youtube (resolution not great, so watch on a small screen).

    • Constance

      I have watched the whole Palliser/Barchester on Youtube…bless those who upload them. I loved her as Mrs. P, one of the best fictional characters ever.

  4. Roxana

    I adore Geraldine McEwan, those eyes of hers were pure mischief. But my favorite role wasn’t a costume drama but as Miss Farnaby in ‘Mulberry’.

  5. Kelly

    Drop everything and watch Barchester Chronicles! She’s hilarious, the gowns are gorgeous, Alan Rickman is loathsome (!), and the dialogue is terrific. Go now!

  6. M.E. Lawrence

    “The Magdalene Laundries” (despite the lack of gorgeous costumes). Mad, bad and dangerous to know.

  7. Bea

    Another vote for the Barchester Chronicles! The utter SMARM is delightful.

  8. MrsC (Maryanne)

    I bloody HEART Geraldine McEwan but she was a TEEERIBLE Miss Marple. Mapp and Lucia is one of my all time favourite watches in fact we just finished watching it through again, but I also have to shout out the TV series of Miss Jean Brodie, it is fabulous. Pretty much every one of the students has become a regular too, showing what talent was found. Love it. She is fabulous.

        • Roxana

          She was very good too. McEwan was tall and thin like Miss Marple is described over and over, but there’s no way that mischievous face of hers can look innocent! Her Miss Marple often looks completely dotty, which was fun.

  9. kt

    Definitely the Barchester Chronicles. I absolutely loved it when it came out and she is completely loathsome as Mrs Proudie! and Donald Pleasance playing the imaginary cello at times of agitation!

  10. Constance

    Mrs. Prowdie was the best. Just finished reading a great bio on Trollope. His takes on clerics caused some uproar at the time but Barcester became the all time favorite of most of England. When he killed her off, there was outrage. I loved watching all of this series and Barcester, luckily all on Youtube.

  11. Constance

    I hope you have seen The Barchester Chronicles by now…it is on Youtube. Well worth watching, especially for her character.