Jean Marsh is one of those quintessentially English actors to me, because, of course, I first saw her in the original Upstairs, Downstairs as the proper but feisty maid. Later, I learned she co-created the series with Eileen Atkins. The pair also created The House of Eliott (1991-4), and while neither acted in that series, Marsh did write for it. She’s performed in plenty of TV over the years — alas, the early U.K. serials are often lost completely and the later U.S. miniseries are impossible to find pix from. But here are some highlights of her varied career in frock flicks, perhaps with a fantasy tinge.
Octavia in Cleopatra (1963)
Mrs. Rochester aka Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre (1970)
Rose in Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975)
Joanna Grey in The Eagle Has Landed (1976)
Hilary von Kleist in The Waltons, “The Hiding Place” (1977)
Nurse Wilson / Mombi in Return to Oz (1985)
Morgaine in Doctor Who, “Battlefield” (1989)
The Queens in Monarch (2000)
Furmity Woman in The Mayor of Casterbridge (2003)
Mrs. Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility (2008)
Lady Constance de Momery in Crooked House (2008)
Mrs. Rose Buck in Upstairs Downstairs (2010-2012)
What’s your favorite frock flick role of Jean Marsh’s?
I’ve only seen her in Cleopatra and Return to Oz. She was properly scary in Oz. I’m more intrigued by how she looks like a number of other actresses (Deborah Kerr, Vanessa Redgrave, even Diana Rigg a bit) but still looks like exactly herself. That fluidity is interesting, and I think would help in acting. Tangent endeth here.
I loved her as Morgaine. She also played a short lived companion, Sarah Kingdom back in the First Doctor’s era and was, I believe, married to John Pertwee at one time.
I had no idea that was her Cleopatra. She looks so very beautiful there!
Return to Oz still scares the shit out of me, and she’s no small part of that.
However, and this is not a frock flick, but she will ever had pride of place in my heart as the MAGNIFICENT Witch Queen Bavmorda in Willow with the most excellent goth metal wimple and crown ever designed by man.
That’s where else I seen her. Thank you! Seconding the goth wimple.
I assume Demon Nun was the look they were going for.
well, mission accomplished :) She divine in all her scenery-chewing glory!
You’re not warriors–you’re all pigs!
Return to Oz. I enjoyed it quite a bit when I was the target age.
Wasn’t she is Grantchester? I could be confusing her with another actress.
Yep, that was her. :)
I loved her so much in Upstairs, Downstairs, but did not know about all these other roles, especially Sense & Sensibility!
I have adored Jean Marsh since childhood! She is such a barnstorming and multifaceted character. I think my first sight of her was in Willow and Return to Oz but I then came to love her in Upstairs Downstairs and then… Monarch!!! Whoooo, I adored it and Jean Marsh was fabulous. She really is an incredible actor, writer, producer and director – a real star, who looks fantastic in Victorian garb.
You forgot Jean Marsh’s first Doctor Who appearance as Princess Joanna, sister of RIchard the Lion Heart, in 1965 story The Crusade. Unfortunately, only very few pictures of her in costume survive.
She will always be my beloved Rose
I didn’t realize that was her as Mrs. Ferrars! She is excellent in that! Loved her in Upstairs, Downstairs, too.
NOT a Frock Flick, but she’s one of the few female Classic Who actors with more than one part, with her own face (not alien-ed up).
She was futuristic companion Sara Kingdom, where she worked with Nick Courtney (who played her brother), in the Dalek Master Plan. Seeing Marsh in Battlefield was like seeing Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright) back as the Priestess in Meglos… that little warm glow of “hi, old friend” even when they weren’t a hero at all.
I watched Monarch on a whim tonight. I am posting this immediately after watching it, in the hopes that by doing so I can warn Trystan before it’s too late. This is dreadful. The plot is dull, and it’s 90 minutes of dudes wandering around a manor house either delivering modern sounding speeches on the nature of the monarchy or referring vaguely to dark and mysterious plottings and goings on. The costuming is a solid C. Everyone except for Henry is dressed for the 1550s at the earliest, and Henry’s clothing is ok. Just ok. Jean Marsh’s costuming and performance (which is really just a extended cameo, it lasts for 3 minutes) is the high point, since she wears a very nice gable hood, and a plausible, although plain, shift.
Since Henry VIII dies in 1547, 1550s costuming is a problem. There were all sorts of goings on around Henry’s deathbed. The plotting and counter plotting could make a good show. But it doesn’t sound like it did.
“Battlefield” isn’t set in the Arthurian era, it’s set in the UK a few years later than broadcast date, which is invaded by techno-medieval Arthurian characters from a parallel universe.