Elizabeth Is Missing is a television drama film directed by Aisling Walsh, adapted by Andrea Gibb from the novel of the same name by Emma Healey. It was broadcast on 08 December 2019 on BBC One. It stars Glenda Jackson as Maud, an elderly woman living with dementia who struggles to piece together a double mystery.
It premiered on PBS on 03 January 2021 as part of its Masterpiece anthology series.
Maud, a grandmother in her 80s living with Alzheimer’s disease, relies on sticky notes to get through the day as her memory slowly deteriorates. One day her best friend, another elderly woman named Elizabeth, fails to meet her as promised. Maud begins to believe something sinister has happened to Elizabeth, but her attempts to raise the alarm are dismissed by those around her. She is forced to investigate on her own as her memory flashes back to the mystery of another disappearance: that of her elder sister, Sukey, 70 years earlier.
Ultimately, Maud’s daughter Helen learns that Elizabeth is not missing, she is in the hospital having become sick following gardening with Maud. Prompted by Maud, Helen digs in the garden of Maud’s home and uncovers the skeletal remains of Sukey. Sukey’s body had been buried there by Frank, Sukey’s husband, when the neighbourhood was first being constructed 70 years earlier after he had killed her.
- Glenda Jackson as Maud Horsham, a widowed grandmother living with Alzheimer’s disease who lives alone.
- Liv Hill as Young Maud Palmer.
- Sophie Rundle as Susan “Sukey” Jefford, Maud’s sister who went missing seventy years earlier.
- Helen Behan as Helen, Maud’s daughter.
- Nell Williams as Katy, Helen’s daughter and Maud’s granddaughter.
- Mark Stanley as Frank Jefford, Sukey’s husband.
- Neil Pendleton as Douglas, a lodger who stays with Sukey, Maud and their parents.
- Sam Hazeldine as Tom Horsham, Maud’s son who lives in Germany.
- Maggie Steed as Elizabeth, Maud’s friend.
- John-Paul Hurley as Mr Palmer, Maud and Sukey’s father.
- Michelle Duncan as Mrs Palmer, Maud and Sukey’s mother.
- Linda Hargreaves as Carla, Maud’s carer.
- Tom Urie as a desk sergeant.
- Anna-Maria Nabirye as Detective Sergeant Grainger.
- Rachel Mcphail as PC Pam.
- Stuart McQuarrie as Peter, Elizabeth’s son.
Elizabeth Is Missing is based on the novel of the same name by Emma Healey, published in 2014. Glenda Jackson, who left acting in 1992 to begin a 23-year career as a Labour Party MP, returned to the stage in 2015. She stated that she was inspired after director Aisling Walsh approached her about the role in New York. “I read the script and the book, and they concern issues I have been banging on about for a decade. We are living in a society where no political party, at least in my country, has addressed the issue of how we provide the money to provide the care that an elderly population needs,” Jackson told The New York Times. To prepare for the role, Jackson met with a doctor from Dementia UK, who she said “explained that the anger that many patients with dementia express was frustration.”
STV Studios were responsible for Elizabeth Is Missing, which was filmed in July and August 2019 in Scotland. Paisley, Renfrewshire, stood in for an English town in flashbacks to the 1940s.
Elizabeth Is Missing was well received by critics, who praised the outstanding performance by Glenda Jackson, who returned to television after a 27-year absence.
On 31 July 2020, Jackson won the BAFTA TV award in the leading actress category.
Production & Filming Details
- Aisling Walsh.
- Sarah Brown … executive producer.
- Victoria Dabbs … line producer.
- Andrea Gibb … executive producer.
- Gaynor Holmes … executive producer: BBC.
- Chrissy Skinns … producer (produced by).
- Mark Thomas … executive producer: Creative Scotland.
- Andrea Gibb … (written by).
- Emma Healey … (based on the novel by).
- Dominik Scherrer.
- Lukas Strebel … director of photography.
- Alex Mackie.
- STV Productions.
- BBC One (for).
- British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (2019) (UK) (TV) (BBC One).
- BBC One (UK) (TV).
- Canal+ Polska (2021) (Poland) (TV).
- HBO Latin America (2020) (Argentina) (TV).
- KRO-NCRV (2021) (Netherlands) (TV) (NPO2).
- Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) (2021) (USA) (TV).
- Yleisradio (YLE) (2021) (Finland) (TV).
- Release Date: 08 December 2019 (UK).
- Running Time: 87 minutes.
- Rating: 12.
- Country: UK.
- Language: English.