Brief Thoughts on the Great, Soon-to-Be-Late Poirot

Next week, after nearly 25 years, ITV’s Agatha Christie-based Poirot draws to an end. Now just in […]

Sarah Condon / 11.4.13

article-2479338-190E932800000578-472_634x861Next week, after nearly 25 years, ITV’s Agatha Christie-based Poirot draws to an end. Now just in case you start to think I’m more cultured than I actually am, I want to be clear that I have never watched a single episode of Poirot. It falls under the category of “shows my Dad tells me I should be watching that are usually British.” However, a recent article in the Telegraph has moved me to catch at least the end of this well-loved Agatha Christie series and perhaps to then start from the beginning.

On November 13th actor David Suchet will put the eccentric, sincere detective to his final rest. Quite literally, viewers will witness the decline of Poirot as Suchet portrays him at the end of his life:

Clumsy, arthritic fingers scrabble at the bedclothes, reaching uncertainly for something to alleviate the crushing heart pains. In a moment of deliberate ambiguity, it is not his amyl nitrate ampoules that Hercule Poirot grasps from the bedside table but a rosary. The master-sleuth has never seemed more vulnerable.

Suchet’s great affection to his character of 25 years is obvious in his description of Poirot, ““He wasn’t aware of his own silliness,” he says. “He is a pure eccentric and total eccentrics are unaware of their eccentricity.” And yet despite the character’s eccentricity (or precisely because of it), Suchet notes that Poirot has garnered a devoted fan base:

“People write to me from all over the world telling me how Poirot has seen them through bereavements and illnesses; how he has comforted them because they feel safe with him.”

I don’t need much more than this description to sell me on watching, but the Telegraph article also spoke to the religiosity of David Suchet himself:

Suchet has also spent 200 hours in the past year recording the entire Bible – 752,702 words – in his sonorous, antique voice. The recording will be released next Easter. It was a labour of love, indirectly linked to his own late conversion to the Church of England. He was brought up a non-orthodox Jew but had been dabbling in new age philosophies. At the end of a day’s filming, Suchet picked up the Bible in his hotel room and started to read St Paul’s Letter to the Romans. (He has since made a television documentary about St Paul.) “I read it as a letter than had just been sent to me through the post”, he says. “ By the time I got to the end, I found a world view I had been looking for all my life; something I could hang onto. I don’t have blind faith. If I were ever to write a book about my journey to faith the title would be ‘Dragged Kicking and Screaming’.