Glenda Jackson — Oscar winning actress and former MP of the United Kingdom has died at 87

Glenda Jackson returned to the small screen to play Maud in Elizabeth Is Missing CREDIT: Mark Mainz/BBC

Sadly, each of these announcements gets more and more difficult each time they pop up in ‘Breaking News’. Glenda Jackson, Oscar winning actress and former Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has died and the all-too-young age of 87. Jackson died peacefully at her home in Blackheath, London Thursday morning after a brief illness with her family at her side.

She recently completed a film with Sir Michael Caine, The Great Escaper, that will release in UK cinemas in October 2023. Based on a true story that made national news about pensioner Bernard Jordan who in 2014, absconded from his care home in Hove, Sussex UK to attend an event in France marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. After the local Police were notified the care home got a call that evening to say Mr Jordan had been found safe and well in France. He returned a few days later having made his way to the event.

While Jackson gave up acting to join the House of Commons as a Labour MP in north London from 1992 to 2015, she returned to television after a 27-year absence in Elizabeth is Missing, which first aired in January 2021 kicking off Masterpiece‘s 50th anniversary season. Jackson, two-time Academy Award® winner and two-time Emmy Award winner (and a Tony!), won the BAFTA TV award in the leading actress category, starring as 80-year-old Maud, a funny, loyal and endearing woman determined to find her missing best friend, Elizabeth. 

When Elizabeth fails to turn up for a shopping trip, Maud is certain something terrible has happened. Turning detective, she sets about trying to solve the mystery of her friend’s disappearance. Armed with a strong stubborn streak, Maud tries to solve the mystery but as the dementia begins to play havoc with her memory threatening to erase all the clues, her search take on a heightened sense of poignant urgency.

Despite Maud’s meticulous system of recording her discoveries on post-it notes, which she increasingly relies on to get through the day, she can’t shake the feeling that she has lost a crucial clue that would unlock the mystery of Elizabeth’s fate. There’s also a mystery within a mystery as flashbacks are cleverly woven into the plot that detail another unsolved mystery – what happened to Maud’s sister, who went missing when she was a teenager.

Photo: BBC

Based on the novel of the same name by Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing also stars Liv Hill (Three Girls), Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders, Bodyguard, Bletchley Circle, Jamestown, Episodes) and Mark Stanley (Game of Thrones).

When the one-off special premiered on BBC One in December of 2019, Elizabeth is Missing marked Glenda Jackson’s return to television after a 27 year absence. The two-time Academy Award winner did a significant amount of research before taking on the role of Maud.  She spoke to a doctor who works with UK charity, Alzheimer’s Society.

As Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate beginning in 1992 which later became Hampstead and Kilburn, a seat which she won in the 2010 general election, Jackson championed the issues addressed in the film for decades while in government. She stood down from parliament in 2015, after deciding not to put herself forward for re-election.

After having had the good fortune to be able to screen the full 90+ minute film, it’s clear that you are going to need several boxes of tissues at your side as this is definitely another ‘you do not want to miss’ drama from PBS Masterpiece.

RIP, Glenda Jackson. You will be missed greatly but your brilliant work will live on forever.

In: Actors/Actresses,Drama