Glenda Jackson Stars in Elizabeth is Missing
Two-time Academy Award®–winner Glenda Jackson (A Touch of Class, Women in Love) stars as a woman desperately trying to solve two mysteries as she declines ever deeper into dementia, in Elizabeth Is Missing, an adaptation of Emma Healey’s acclaimed novel, airing on MASTERPIECE in one 90-minute presentation, Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 9/8c on PBS.
Returning to television for the first time in nearly three decades, Jackson astounded critics during the UK broadcast of Elizabeth Is Missing in late 2019. “Glenda Jackson shines in this heartrending whodunnit” (The Guardian); “Jackson gave one of the performances of her lifetime” (The Daily Telegraph); “Jackson is remarkable” (The Independent); “a devastatingly real performance” (The Times); “brilliant” (Radio Times).
Playing feisty grandmother Maud Horsham, who lives alone despite early-stage Alzheimer’s, Jackson is joined by Maggie Steed (Paddington 2) as Maud’s only friend, Elizabeth, who ominously goes missing, leading to one of the mysteries at the heart of the drama. Helen Behan (The Virtues) plays Maud’s dutiful daughter, Helen, and Nell Williams (Blinded by the Light) is Maud’s doting granddaughter, Katy.
The other mystery in Maud’s mind is a puzzle from her past, kindled when she unearths the top of an old cosmetics compact while gardening with Elizabeth. The discovery takes Maud back to her teenaged self (played by Liv Hill, The Little Stranger). Like many younger siblings, Maud looked up to her big sister, Sukey (Sophie Rundle, Gentleman Jack), considering her the height of glamour; plus she had a crush on her sister’s husband, Frank (Mark Stanley, Sanditon). This childhood idyll ended with Sukey’s failure to come home one night in 1949, never to be seen again.
As Maud thinks back on it, she wonders if the family’s lodger at the time, Douglas (Neil Pendleton, In Plain Sight), had anything to do with Sukey’s vanishing. And the cryptic warnings from the long-ago mad woman with the umbrella (Cara Kelly, Trust Me) only deepen the riddle.
In her increasingly disoriented perception, the disappearances of Sukey and now Elizabeth get mixed up—like the jigsaw puzzle that Maud flings to the floor. She attacks the problem with a system she uses around the house: sticky notes, posted everywhere, documenting daily reminders to herself—mostly about locking the door or turning off the stove, but also recording her meetings with Elizabeth and chance observations. Maud’s granddaughter, Katy, helps her arrange the notes. “Imagine you’re like a detective looking at clues,” Katy says helpfully. “You have to start at the beginning, and you have to be logical.”
And she is logical—by her own standards. As memories, clues, and deductions pile up, viewers come to see the world as Maud does, and to solve the mystery as this tenacious, vision-haunted sleuth does.